Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
Oboe Player Who Collapsed Mid-Performance Remains Hospitalized
Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 01:59 PM
San Francisco Symphony principal oboist William Bennett, who collapsed in mid-performance of Strauss's Oboe Concerto, remains in a hospital in "guarded" condition Tuesday.
Bennett, 56, suffered a brain hemorrhage at Davies Symphony Hall on Saturday night while performing the famously difficult concerto. He lay on the stage unconscious for several minutes, according to some witness reports. Others noted that a doctor in the audience climbed on stage to provide assistance until paramedics arrived and took him to the hospital.
Witnesses told the San Francisco Chronicle that Bennett began to sway as he was performing and eventually passed out. He held his oboe aloft long enough for a nearby violinist to grab it out of his hand.
The orchestra released a statement Tuesday that reads, in part, "Michael Tilson Thomas and the entire Symphony family send their best thoughts and well wishes to Bill and his family. He is a remarkable musician and wonderful friend, and we all hope for better news soon."
Oboe playing is known to put pressure on the cardiovascular system, as the performer must push a great deal of air through a small double reed. But while the profession is littered with stories of dizzy spells or fainting, evidence of any deeper medical effects is spotty and inconclusive.
Bennett joined the symphony in 1979 and has been its principal oboe since 1987.