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Malan: Hanging Up His Symbolic Pointe Shoes

April 29, 2014

Roy MalanViolinist Roy Malan continues as concertmaster of the California Symphony and Opera Parallèle (above), remains with the S.F. Contemporary Music Players, and on the faculty of UC Santa Cruz, but he is retiring as concertmaster of the San Francisco Ballet.

Malan is the Ballet Orchestra's first and only concertmaster, coming on board 39 years ago when the permanent orchestra was formed, after years of employing musicians temporarily. When Davies Symphony Hall opened in 1980, separating orchestras for the symphony and opera, the autonomy of the Ballet Orchestra became even more delineated, sharing some musicians with the Opera Orchestra (whose season is in a different period from the Ballet), but none with San Francisco Symphony.

Through it all, Malan was concertmaster, playing hundreds of solo parts ballet scores specify for the first violin: "During my years with the S.F. Ballet I have seen plenty of memorable moments on stage and have collaborated with some wonderful colleagues in the pit, but for me the time has come to enjoy music making for its own sake, unencumbered by the often capricious fancies of our dear choreographers."

In addition to his remaining orchestral work, Malan says, "To fill in the gaps, I have a string quartet, a piano trio, and several music festivals, concertos and recording dates. I am also building an art gallery on my property in the Santa Cruz Mountains."

From SFB Orchestra Music Director Martin West:

"Roy's tenure as concert master is unlikely to be surpassed not only in the SFB Orchestra but in the entire musical world. He played an integral part in bringing me to the Ballet and I've enjoyed working with him for the past 10 years. I want to thank him for everything he's contributed to SFB and wish him a very well deserved rest."

One of Malan's longest-serving colleagues, double bassist Shinji Eshima, said:

Roy was a student and protege of Efrem Zimbalist and also the fine author of his biography. Roy is among the last of the Romantic Era violinists, those whose sound alone could identify the performer. He was also the former roommate of another member of the ballet orchestra, former principal cellist David Kadarauch, while they were students at Curtis.

Uniquely qualified to meet the special demands of a ballet concertmaster, Roy would be asked to perform several different concertos and orchestra solos within any given week. He managed this while maintaining a full teaching load, performing chamber music constantly, founder of the Telluride Chamber Music series.

Always a gentleman and stylish, true violinist, his is a life of music to be celebrated and remembered.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].