After forty-eight years serving as Concertmaster for the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra (BSO), Rebecca Brooks has decided to retire, passing the torch to Julia Haney. Julia Haney has been Mrs. Brooks’ trusted Associate Concertmaster since 2010, and now it is her time to shine. Haney describes Rebecca Brooks as a “terrific mediator” who possesses “consummate leadership” — qualities of an effective Concertmaster. The Concertmaster’s primary devoir is to direct the violin section and to “help translate the conductor’s vision” to the orchestra, according to Haney. She knows that Brooks has left incredibly big shoes to fill but is up for the challenge.
Haney spent most of her childhood living in small, rural communities in Iowa. She started playing violin at age eight and took group classes and private lessons at her school. Because her father was a pastor, she was given the opportunity to play in church services and further develop her talent. Haney also participated in her school orchestra and in youth symphonies, where her dream initiated. She described playing in the community as “a really magical experience.”
When asked who has inspired Haney the most over the span of her musical career, her first answer was Itzhak Perlman, one of the most skilled violinists of the twentieth century. She remembers watching him on her parents’ small television set and “being mesmerized by his big hands and big fingers.” Haney was also bewildered by his “sensitive” style of playing. “That was a moment I will never forget.”
Various violin instructors and colleagues have also inspired Haney over the years. When she felt she could not practice any longer, her teachers and colleagues consistently encouraged her to strive for improvement. She asked herself, “How much are you willing to sacrifice for your dreams?” Haney then realized that the only way to reach her dreams was through sacrifice. Haney believes that sacrifice is an obstacle, but also believes “overcoming obstacles is a smaller matter than one thinks.” This realization strengthened her ardor for music. Now she understands that every additional focused hour of practice, however tedious, brings improvement.
In her career to date, Ms. Haney has performed with several orchestras, including the Des Moines Symphony of Iowa, the Greater Bridgeport Symphony of Connecticut, and the Minnesota Opera Orchestra. She has also played in the BSO since 2006. Furthermore, she has played in 150 student orchestral performances and over 250 professional orchestral performances. That is over 400 orchestral performances in total! She has many, many more to come. These performances were just a warm-up as she moves into the role as Concertmaster.
When Julia Haney is not spending hours practicing or performing, she enjoys being a mom to her eight-year-old son and her five-year-old daughter. She also teaches private violin lessons at CSU Bakersfield, where her husband is a music history professor. Haney is also involved in a local string quartet that meets weekly to practice and occasionally perform. In Haney’s spare time, she enjoys cooking, reading, and listening to all genres of music, including Pop, Jazz, Opera, Chamber music, and of course, Orchestral music. She is open to different styles and sounds of music and is convinced that “music is like people: the more you know, the more interesting it is.”
Julia Haney, champion of orchestral music, has now received the torch as she steps into her role as the new BSO Concertmaster. After years of hard work and dedication, she will see her musical dream become a reality during the 2013-2014 season. Julia Haney, Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra’s newest Concertmaster, will make history.
By: Ivory Parker, BSO Intern