Orchestra shuffles off two 50-year veterans

Roger Ruggeri has played double bass in the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra for 52 years, writing its program notes for much of that time. He’s a former conducting student of Pierre Monteux.

roger ruggieri

Shirley Rosin has played in the MSO second violins for exactly half a century. Her mother used to commute up from Chicago to fill in the freelance gaps, and was her roommate on tour.

Both vets retire this month, graduating instantly to the Slipped Disc hall of fame of longest-serving players.

We wish them a long and contented retirement.

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  • 50 years is too long. Like driving past a certain age in the U.S. when one must pass a test on the road each successive year, musicians in orchestras should have to pass a similar test beyond a 40 year career. I’m in a top orchestra and not only would I like to see this rule implemented but I would also welcome that challenge when and if the time comes for me. It simply is not fair to all the young talent out there to stay this duration. I think you will agree the bell curve is at its lowest ebb by this point in the artist’s career, especially if practicing became optional years before.

    • There need to be better retirement plans in place for orchestra players, then, so that they don’t have to keep working so long. It’s all well and good to “make room” for new talent, but it’s a PROFESSION not a talent show. People earn their livelihoods doing this. Many older players keep working because they have to. Retirement pensions for orch. players are a relatively new concept.

      You can’t expect older musicians to just leave with no pension so that young people can have a place.On top of everything else, what does that teach the young people? That when they get old they will be discarded? Who wants to enter a profession like that?

  • Surely this is not just about money. These musicians have, presumably, loved music and their profession all their lives and don’t deserve to be thrown on the scrap heap. While it is true that older musicians need to make room for the younger ones, can it not be done gradually, allowing the older musician/teacher to go part-time, thus making room and also allowing some possibility for them to retain something of their lives?

  • In most cases vibrato becomes wobbly, sound becomes embarrassing to those close by or even worse hiding within the section’s sound is perfected to a tee. These players collect their paychecks and social security checks each and every week. Without the intervention of an alert music director, the other section players become resentful, angry and the feeling of helplessness a burden night in and night out. An age restriction must be put into place if orchestras would like to have continuous youthful energy – a point smart managements address, don’t you think?

  • Mr.Ruggeri also is a fine composer.And,age restriction is bullshit,as long as a player is up to his job.There are many great examples of orchestra musicians being great after many decades of service.I heard Jules Eskin(BSO principal cello) playing the solo in Brahms second piano concerto heartrendingly beautiful and absolutely flawless two years ago,when he was 82 or so.

  • Not a big deal Norman, but when I posed, next to my name a photo popped up – rather like yours. However, it’s a photo of my son, not me!! How or why it got there, I have no idea!!!

  • I’m all for retaining players with experience and expertise. After 40 years on the job, I’m proposing that players should have to play in front of the music director and select committee to prove their worth in order to maintain their jobs. It’s in the best interest of the symphony orchestra. I have seen it go in the opposite direction too many times in my 30 plus year career. It’s absolutely disheartening.

  • Mr.Ruggieri is also a fine composer.Age restrictment is rubbish,as long as a player is up to the demands of his job.I heard Mr.Eskin(BSO principal cello) play the solo in Brahms second piano concerto 2 years ago,serenly beautiful and absolutely flawless.He gave many of his younger colleagues a run for their money.

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