Topic: Sylvia Kushner/Wrestling with Angels...

I had the great pleasure last night of seeing the new documentary film (here at the Film Forum, NYC - soon to be released to "art" theaters around the USA and internationally, I assume) "Wrestling with Angels" - all about the playwright Tony Kushner ("Angels in America," "Homebody Kabal," "Caroline or Change," etc.)

All through the movie a clarinetist and _bassoonist_ provided a wonderful background - excellent players; unfortunately, didn't have a credit for them at the end of the film. It's appropriate that these 2 instruments were prominent, since Tony's parents were both professional musicians - Sylvia was principal bassoonist with the NYC Opera and Bill Kushner was principal clarinetist for the NYC Ballet. The entire family moved to Lake Charles, LA, when Bill inherited his father's lumber business, some years ago.

I had the great opportunity to study bassoon with Sylvia for a couple of years, while I was a student at Lamar University in Beaumont, TX. I commuted once a week to Lake Charles (was usually met at the door by a very young Tony!). She had one of the most magnificent tones I've heard - before or since - on our esteemed bassoon. I also played some with the Lake Charles Symphony, conducted by Bill Kushner (who still conducts the Alexandria Symphony in his 80's!). The Kushners were instrumental in encouraging me to go to Juilliard and get more "entrenched" in meeting lots of fellow bassoon/oboe students, as well as the contacts in NYC that have helped me through the years professionally. It was also a great treat to sit next to Sylvia when she periodically performed principal bassoon with the Beaumont Symphony. (I remember one Beethoven Violin Concerto performance in particular - her sound and musicianship were exemplary, and Werner Torkanowsky, the conductor, made a real point of publicly acknowledging her great artistry.)

The film is quite inspiring in that it shows some of the creative process that Tony goes through with his art, as well as showcasing his entire family's major creative talents. (In addition to Sylvia and Bill, Tony's brother was French hornist in the Vienna Philharmonic - now he's in the Munich Philharmonic and performs in the movie. (Sylvia passed away a few years ago, and her Heckel (I believe) still resides with one of Eric's colleagues in the Vienna Phil!) When things got slow for her in Louisiana, bassoon-wise, she became quite a good actor in the local community theaters in the state!.

This film is truly a gift - hope everyone on the forum list gets a chance to see it for yourself in the future. The Kushners are a real American artistic "treasure" - be their performances in Louisiana, Munich or NYC!

Peace, Jim

James Jeter, D.M.A., NYC Bassoonist
"To love human beings is still the only thing worth living for; without that love, you really do not live." Soren Kierkegaard
"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." Mahatma Gandhi  "Mach' es kurz! Am Juengsten Tag ist's nur ein Furz!" Goethe

Re: Sylvia Kushner/Wrestling with Angels...

Correction: I just spoke with Bill Kushner - it turns out my info about Eric was incorrect - Eric Kushner is not in the Munich Phil, nor was he a member of the Vienna Phil, but has been and continues to be principal horn for the Vienna Symphony for the last 20 years! Also, Sylvia's Heckel was sold to a bassoonist in Italy and is still being played. Peace, Jim

James Jeter, D.M.A., NYC Bassoonist
"To love human beings is still the only thing worth living for; without that love, you really do not live." Soren Kierkegaard
"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." Mahatma Gandhi  "Mach' es kurz! Am Juengsten Tag ist's nur ein Furz!" Goethe