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Mark Brandfonbrener: About Us
Mark Brandfonbrener: Mission

Mark Brandfonbrener, Cello

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois

Joined Lyric Orchestra in 1990

Education: The University of Michigan and The Juilliard School

  • What is your most memorable Lyric experience?

My most memorable Lyric Opera experience was playing my first Wagner Ring Cycle with Mehta. The piece had not been done at Lyric in many years so Maestro Mehta was given plenty of rehearsal. The orchestra grew into a much better ensemble through that experience, and we continue to benefit today from those performances and rehearsals. When we all stood on stage at the end of the last cycle, I felt like we had really accomplished something monumental.

  • What was the scariest thing that ever happened to you in the pit?

Once during a matinee of La Boheme, my tailpiece suddenly broke. It sounded like a bomb had gone off in the pit. The personnel manager heard it over the intercom and came running to the pit. I was left stunned: sitting with an unstrung cello while the music played on. The orchestra never stops during a show. I picked up the pieces, crept out of the pit, and went to see my repairman. After the repair, the cello was good as new.

  • Why did you choose you instrument?

I chose the cello when my mother wouldn't let me play the bass. She said that she didn't want to drive it around for the next 8 years. When I was 10 or eleven, I took cello lessons on the top floor of the old music school at Northwestern University, a 4-story walk-up. Once, while catching my breath while carrying my hard cello case up the stairs, a woman encouraged me by saying not to worry, that one day I would be bigger than my cello.

  • Outside the pit:

I am a soccer, Cub Scout, Girl Scout, basketball and youth orchestra dad. I also play golf and bridge and practice Yoga.

Mark Brandfonbrener: About
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