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Frank Portone, Principal Horn

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What was your musical upbringing like?
Started singing in the third grade. Joined the All Philadelphia Boys Choir in Fourth grade. (Never stopped singing!) I started playing the accordion in fourth grade as well. In seventh grade I started playing cello but didn't like carrying it. 

What drew you to your instrument?
After I decided I didn't want to play the cello, the orchestra director showed me a brand new French Horn. It was shiny and all curly and beautiful! He needed another horn player, so I started playing it and never stopped!

What are the challenges and opportunities unique to your instrument?
Well, everyone knows the horn is very difficult. The notes are squirrelly and uncentered, but it is also such a beautiful sounding instrument that it is 

worth the trouble and effort to play as flawlessly as one is able. Some nights are better than others, but you have to learn to live with that or drive yourself crazy pursuing perfection. 

Do you teach?
Yes! Both privately and at Davidson College as Adjunct Instructor of Horn.

How were you inspired to be a professional musician?
My high school choir director took me to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra. I could not believe my ears that night. It was so unbelievably beautiful! I knew I wanted to be a professional horn player from that night on. 

Have you always been in the Charlotte Symphony, or have you worked elsewhere professionally?
I was a freelance musician in Philadelphia from 1974 until 1977. I was performing both on the horn and vocally. In 1977 I won the Principal Horn position in the Hong Kong Philharmonic and stayed in that job for three seasons. In 1980, We left Hong Kong and returned to Philadelphia. Five days later, I flew to Charlotte to audition for the principal horn position here. We've been here ever since. Thirty six seasons now.

What’s the most memorable thing that’s happened on stage?
Performing with Dame Joan Sutherland about twenty eight years ago! She was unbelievable! We also played "Pines of Rome" that night and the huge crowd went wild at the end. Unforgettable!

What are some of your non-musical interests, or passions?
Interests - Fishing (fresh and salt water), golfing, cooking and eating, traveling! Passions - my wife Maria, our children and our grandchildren!

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