An Interview with K Philarmonia French Horn Player Ron Chase

By Viola Brown, Staff Writer

Ron Chase in Dalton Theater after rehearsal (Photo by Viola Brown)

Retired geology professor at Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo Philharmonia French horn player Ron Chase discussed with The Index his love of music, how he finds time to play his instrument with such a busy schedule, and his feelings about the Philharmonia’s upcoming performance “Regeneration”.

The Index: How long have you been playing the French horn? When did you really start to enjoy playing it?

Ron Chase: I have loved music since I was born. I grew up in a family that was very much into classical music and so I just sort of learned it and loved it. I started playing the horn in the seventh grade and I played through high school. And then when I went to college, I took a geology class and fell in love with it, and there went my music career. Then I played for a couple of years when I was a doctoral student at graduate school, and then I put it away for another eight years, and then played for another four years, and then put it away for 35 years, and I started again at 72.

The Index: How long have you been in the orchestra and what changes have you observed over the years?

Ron Chase: This is my sixth year. The orchestra has gotten better; it’s basically delving into deeper and more difficult literature and doing well, and I quite honestly feel that with our conductor [Andrew Koehler] we can’t help but do well.

The Index: How was it juggling both playing in the orchestra and teaching?

Ron Chase: I played for four years while I was teaching and it was okay; it was fine. The actual rehearsals weren’t difficult for me to schedule in – it was the practice time. When I came into the orchestra, I wasn’t too far along in my recovery from all the years of layoff and so I felt I had to do a lot of practicing.

The Index: What about the upcoming performance are you most excited about?

Ron Chase: Well this coming concert is wonderful. It’s got two very excellent compositions in it both of which are quite challenging and I’m looking forward to that.

The Index: How has being a member of the orchestra helped you grow as a musician?

Ron Chase: It has deepened my sense of music. I have been exposed to compositions that I didn’t know existed before and that has really broadened my perspective on how to play. It hasn’t increased my love of music any because that, no doubt, is a very high love to start with. 

This is the third profile in a series of interviews with K Philharmonia members and faculty. Their performance “Regeneration” is on November 16th at 8p.m. in Dalton Theatre.