Bassoonist retires after 42 years with Phoenix Symphony

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Principal bassoonist Bonnie Wolfgang plays during her final rehearsal with the Phoenix Symphony. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Principal bassoonist Bonnie Wolfgang plays during her final rehearsal with the Phoenix Symphony. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

The Phoenix Symphony is honoring one of its longest-tenured musicians. Principal bassoon player Bonnie Wolfgang is retiring this weekend after 42 years with the orchestra.

Friday morning she finished up her final rehearsal with the symphony.

“Forty-two years, I absolutely cannot believe that that much time has gone by so quickly," Wolfgang said.

She landed the job as principal bassoonist in 1976 and has played under the direction of six music directors since then. Current director Tito Munoz says Wolfgang has been an inspiration to the entire orchestra and they’re going to miss her influence week-in and week-out.

"We’re all very sad that she’s leaving," he said. "Bonnie, I think, is still one of the best bassoon players in the country. And I’m not just saying that just because we’re celebrating this. I really mean that.”

Though Wolfgang admits the bassoon doesn’t usually get to play the main melody -- some of her career highlights include being featured in Mozart’s bassoon concerto and once playing under the direction of Igor Stravinsky after graduating from high school.

Despite her success and acclaim, Wolfgang pats her fellow musicians on the back for everything they do.

“I’m sitting right in the middle of the orchestra, so I get to hear everyone up close and personal, all these beautiful solos," she said. "It’s hard to give up the joy of making music."

It took Wolfgang about four years to finally decide it was time to move away from 6-day work weeks with the symphony, but she already has retirement plans. She’ll probably add more private lesson students to her schedule and she’ll devote more time to her other instrument, the piano.

"I told everyone I’m gonna come back and I’m sitting in the audience and I’m going to enjoy listening, and this time I don’t have to be counting measures for when I come in. I can just listen and enjoy,” she said.

You can get tickets to hear Bonnie Wolfgang play in the symphony's concert before she takes her final bow on June 2.

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Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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