TBJ113: Rebecca Cherian


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TBJ113: Rebecca Cherian on encouraging young women players, the importance of allies and the Bernstein Bounce. Rebecca Cherian is Co-Principal Trombone of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

From her bio:

Rebecca Cherian was awarded the position of co-principal trombone of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra by Lorin Maazel in 1989. She has been trombone instructor at Carnegie Mellon University since 1993. Cherian was a founding member of the International Women’s Brass Conference in 1994 and served as the IWBC Newsletter Editor for five years. 

As a California native, Cherian began her professional career at the age of 16 as trombonist with the San Jose Symphony under the direction of George Cleve. At the age of 17, she appeared as a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony as a result of winning First Prize in their Young Musicians’ Awards. Cherian earned her Bachelor of Music Degree from the California Institute of the Arts and her Master of Music Degree from the Yale School of Music. While in school she was awarded First Place in the Atwater Kent Brass Competition and Outstanding Chamber Music Performer at Yale. She studied with Miles Anderson, Robert Szabo, and John Swallow.

Before becoming a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Cherian held positions of principal trombone with the Springfield Symphony in Massachusetts and the Rhode Island Philharmonic. She was trombone instructor at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, the Hartt School of Music and Wesleyan University. As a freelance artist, she toured with the Israel Philharmonic under the Direction of Leonard Bernstein, performed with the Boston Opera, New York City Ballet, Hartford, New Haven, and Vermont Symphonies and Goodspeed Opera House.

In September 1993, Cherian enjoyed the honor of performing at the White House in Washington, D.C. as part of a 15-woman ensemble of brass and percussion players for the opening reception of the Annual International Women’s Forum. The group performed the world premiere of Joan Tower’s fanfare, Celebration, which was dedicated to Hillary Clinton. Cherian appears regularly as a soloist and master class Clinician at the IWBC.

Cherian released her second solo CD, “L’Invitation au Voyage,” in 2015. Both her first CD, “Water Awakening,” and “L’Invitation au Voyage.” are available through cdbaby.com or amazon.com. She can also be heard on “From the Back Row,” a recording on Albany Records of the Low Brass Section of the Pittsburgh Symphony and numerous recordings of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Lorin Maazel, Mariss Jansons and Manfred Honeck.

In this fun and lively discussion, we cover:

  • The dramatic Rebecca/Becky controversy

  • Playing with the PSO

  • The recent PSO concert at Lincoln Center in NYC

  • Technical difficulties

  • Becky still has a home phone (thankfully!)!

  • The state of the PSO

  • How social media played a part in getting the word out about the PSO player's positions

  • Her first gig was in San Antonio Symphony at 16 years of age

  • Losing her slide story

  • Women in the career field, how things have changed and what work there still is to do

  • The importance of building allies in a group

  • How to coach and encourage young women players (and the men too!)

  • Diversity issues in general

  • Picking the instrument in school, despite trombone not being a "girl's" instrument

  • Soloing with the San Francisco Symphony at 17

  • Lance's monumental frack 

  • Playing under Bernstein with the Isreal Philharmonic on tour in Mexico and Texas (and learning Rite of Spring and bass trumpet in one day)

  • Meeting Bernstein

  • Bernstein falling off the podium (and bouncing back), AKA the "Bernstein Bounce"

  • Herp Alpert

  • Playing at the White House


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Expertly produced by Will Houchin with love, care, and enthusiasm.