Chicago star: Why I quit the orchestra for the academy

Chicago star: Why I quit the orchestra for the academy


norman lebrecht

May 30, 2014

David McGill, who is stepping down after 17 years as principal bassoon of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, has explained why he’s walking away from one of the best seats in the musical world. It’s his duty, he says.

“I was very lucky to have studied with what might be considered the very last of the old guard of music teachers in Philadelphia. So I feel like it’s on my shoulders to carry on what they gave to me, and after 30 years of performing in an orchestra, I felt like, well, it’s time.”

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david mcgill



  • NYMike says:

    McGill’s teachers – Sol Schoenbach, John de Lancie, and John Minsker – all Curtis instructors and former principal woodwinds of the Philadelphia Orchestra, were part of the American school of woodwind playing that came out of Curtis/Philly Orch. in the 1920s. Today, most woodwind principals in American orchestras are descendants from that lineage.

  • MacroV says:

    I don’t see why he couldn’t have continued as a CSO principal and part-time professor at Northwestern, which is the usual practice (and I assume what he has been doing all these years). But it’s his call. And he opens a spot at the top for some other terrific player.