July 18th, 2024

Symphony celebrates longtime concertmaster on 50 years with orchestra

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on May 8, 2024.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Norbert Boehm reacts as he receives a standing ovation during the intermission of Monday's concert at Southminster United Church as he was recognized for his 50th season with the Lethbridge Symphony.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

The Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra celebrated one of its members who reached a special milestone during their final concert of the season this week at Southminster United Church.

Concertmaster and principal first violin Norbert Boehm marked 50 years with the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra while playing the Series VI – Mozart’s Grand Mass, with the symphony, accompanied by Vox Musica and the Lethbridge Collegiate Institute Chamber Choir performing on Monday evening for a sold-out crowd.

During the intermission a slideshow showcased Boehm through the years and his many hairstyles. He laughed and seemed to enjoy it. He was presented with an award for his 50 years that resembled a glass violin and a standing ovation.

Previous to the concert, on Friday Boehm spoke to the Herald and shared some of his fondest memories with the symphony.

“It’s always a special concert with singers, with the choir. The string instrument is very much like a voice, it has vocal cords or like our strings that vibrate. There’s a close connection there,” said Boehm.

He said it is hard to believe it has been 50 years. Boehm said he applied to a position with the symphony after finishing his Bachelor of Music program at the University of Alberta in 1974.

“I had a few options to decide what was I going to do. I came down the summer that year, met with people and after the option to be with the Edmonton Symphony at that time, I decided to come to Lethbridge and it’s been a wonderful ride,” said Boehm.

Some the highlights for him involve the times that he had the opportunity to play solo, whether with the orchestra or with other people, he said solos are important events for him.

“Terrifying and exciting at the same time to do that because every time is a new experience and each time is a one time event,” said Boehm.

He said another highlight involves playing with his son, who plays the cello, and even if it is repeat performances, every time they play together is a highlight for him.

“With Musaeus, we were invited in 1991 to be part of the Minsk Spring Festival in Belarus and that was certainly a highlight to be able to play chamber music in Europe,” said Boehm.

He said that trip was especially meaningful because it allowed him to reconnect with relatives on his father’s side of the family, with whom he had lost contact since his father passed away in 1973.

“They were ethnic Germans living in the Ukraine and of course of the Second World War and its aftermath, they were stuck back there and my dad managed to immigrate to Canada and he kept in touch with him when he was alive but we lost contact with them,” said Boehm.

 He said coincidentally, shortly before his trip his mother received a letter from one of his cousins from Russia.

 “My first cousins and they actually came from there where they were living in Europe to Minsk and met with us for about a week. My mom came on the trip as well,” said Boehm.

 He said she not only came with them to meet up with family, but she acted as translator as she was able to speak Russian, while they all collectively could speak German.

When it comes to being able to stay with the symphony for this long, Boehm said it is a collaborative effort and recognizes it is not just him who has made this possible.

“It’s not all me, it’s been all these people that I get to work with and boards of directors who managed to make sure that the money is there and the other things that we as musicians don’t do but absolutely require,” said Boehm.

He said this was evident during the pandemic, when they were able to continue paying musicians during that season and how the symphony itself survived, making it possible for him to continue.

“It’s never been dull. I have a lot of lot of people to thank because this is not something I’ve done alone, it’s in collaboration with many. They say it takes a village,” said Boehm.

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He is the best!!!