A Passion for Music

Monday, December 11, 2006 at 12:18 PM

Posted by Mark Dalrymple, Member of Technical Staff, Mac Team

After an orchestra rehearsal last month, some of us went to the local Eat-n-Park, a family restaurant chain here in western Pennsylvania. I was decked out in a traditional black Google T-shirt. After chatting with the waitress a bit, she asked about the shirt, and I said that I worked at Google. She said "Wow! It never occurred to me that people actually worked there."

Yes, indeed, real live people work here. And because we're real people, we have real interests. The most interesting programmers I've come across have also had serious passions outside the world of bits and bytes. Among the Googlers I know are a triathlete, an expert wordsmith, a rescue dog trainer, and an incredible black-and-white photographer.

My particular passion is music. I've been playing music of one kind or another since fourth grade, having floated into and out of dozens of groups, and I have played hundreds of performances over the years. I met my wife Sharlotte in a community orchestra in Northern Virginia. Since moving to the Pittsburgh area in 2000, we've joined two concert bands, one community orchestra, an on-again off-again woodwind quintet, and we sing in a church choir.

I started out my music career on trombone in elementary school and got to be a fairly decent player. In junior high school, my folks sent me to The Summer Arts Camp at Interlochen, an 8-week musical immersion experience where you perform 7 complete concerts. That's a fresh batch of music nearly every week! At Interlochen, I met the bassoon while I was counting hundreds of bars of rest during orchestra rehearsals. One week the group was doing the Berceuse and Finale from Stravinski's Firebird suite, which has an amazing bassoon part. At that point, I decided I wanted to play that thing. I had to play that thing. Luckily, my school had an instrument no one was using, so I glommed onto it and took some lessons. I've kept up with both instruments over the years, becoming a "doubler": that is, I play each of them well enough to not embarrass myself in public.

Sharlotte and I are very busy musically, especially during the holiday times. This month, we're slated to play a three-night run of a hometown Christmas musical, one orchestra concert, three community band benefit concerts, background music at a grocery store, background music for a dinner banquet, two church services, and we'll be demonstrating the double-reed family to the local middle school's seventh grade band. It's a crazy schedule, but we love it.

I'll leave you with two recordings. In the first, I'm performing "Bye Bye Blues", a bass trombone solo with the Westmoreland Symphonic Winds Jazz band. The other is Zephyrs (The West Winds), a quintet I'm in, playing the second movement of the woodwind quintet by Muczynski, which includes Sharlotte on oboe and me on bassoon. I hope you enjoy the music -- played by people!