One Last Curtain Call for New York Philharmonic Concertmaster

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The moment had the valedictory air of a basketball player's jersey retirement ceremony.

Glenn Dicterow, wearing his black tuxedo and holding his loaner 1727 Guarneri del Gesù violin for the last time on the stage of Avery Fisher Hall, was honored Saturday night for his 34 years as concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic.

Dicterow didn't speak during the 15-minute event, which took place before intermission, but he showed his gratitude with several graceful bows and blown kisses to the audience, which gave a respectful and prolonged standing ovation.

The retirement ceremony is an annual part of the Philharmonic's last subscription concert of every season but this year's was considerably more notable than usual. In addition to Dicterow, four other retiring players were acknowledged by music director Alan Gilbert: principal trumpeter Philip Smith; principal second violinist Marc Ginsberg; violinist Judith Ginsberg (Marc Ginsberg's wife); and violinist Yoko Takebe (who Gilbert noted, also happens to be his mother).

Concertmaster Glenn Dicterow, violinist Marc Ginsberg and trumpeter Philip Smith are honored at Avery Fisher Hall
Concertmaster Glenn Dicterow, violinist Marc Ginsberg and trumpeter Philip Smith are honored at Avery Fisher Hall (Jennifer Taylor/New York Philharmonic)

Dicterow was the longest-serving concertmaster in the history of the Philharmonic, and fittingly, his retirement has been somewhat of a drawn-out affair this season, with various star billings and a commemorative CD. But he hardly coasted through his final concerts: Saturday night marked the fifth consecutive performance last week of Beethoven's Triple Concerto with the cellist Carter Brey and the pianist Yefim Bronfman.

As Dicterow gave his final bows in the sold-out concert, some audience members cheered, snapped pictures or presented bouquets. "We've been trying to hold it together backstage," Gilbert said in his brief remarks, adding that he promised Dicterow there wouldn't be any ponderous speeches.

Concertmaster Glenn Dicterow, violinist Marc Ginsberg and trumpeter Philip Smith are honored at Avery Fisher Hall
Concertmaster Glenn Dicterow, violinist Marc Ginsberg and trumpeter Philip Smith are honored at Avery Fisher Hall (Jennifer Taylor/New York Philharmonic)

After 6,033 performances and 219 solo appearances with the Philharmonic, Dicterow is moving back to his native California, where he has taken up a faculty position at the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music. He'll also continue to play chamber music and teach master classes. He recently spoke with WNYC's Soundcheck about those future plans:

Also listen to this recent profile on Dicterow on WNYC's Fishko Files: