It’s a whole different world than it was in 1975. Los Angeles County has grown by 3 million people, there’s been seven Presidents, and we’ve flocked to the multiplex to see 15 different James Bond films (not including the 10 that were released before 1975). One constant in this sea of change, though, is David Shostac. David was named LACO’s principal flute in 1975, and he’s held that position ever since. David is celebrating his 40th anniversary with LACO this year, and will be a featured soloist at the Mozart & Prokofiev concert on March 14 & 15 (get your tickets here). We asked David to take a little trip down memory lane, and, in this interview, he shares how he came to join LACO, recalls some favorite memories, and reveals the advice he gives to the next generation of concert musicians.
LACO: When did you start playing the flute, and why did you pick that particular instrument? Shostac: In 2nd grade, the music teacher announced that there were two trombones available. I asked my parents (both musicians) if I could have one of them, and somehow I ended up with a flute. So I started playing the flute at 8 years old.
Do you have a favorite piece to play? I have lots of favorite pieces, including the Mozart Flute Concerto [that’s on the program for this weekend’s concerts].
Do you have a favorite venue to perform in? Why? Royce Hall and Ambassador Auditorium have lush sounds, and the Alex Theater has lots of clarity. Both have their advantages, but performers tend to prefer live acoustics. However, dry and clear is preferable to overly live sound which gets muddy and mushy.
You’ve been with LACO for 40 years. How did you end up joining LACO? What do you remember from your initial audition? I owe that to Paul Shure, LACO concertmaster at the time, for setting up an audition with Neville Mariner at a private home. I was extremely happy to be given the position, having decided upon hearing the orchestra that I belonged there.
How have you witnessed LACO, as an organization, grow or evolve since your early days with the orchestra? With each director and management, the orchestra has evolved in its own way. The level has always been extremely high, but I’d say that it has become much more than an outlet for outstanding studio musicians. It still is that, but from both an artistic and a financial viewpoint, it has reached new heights.
Do you have any favorite memories from LACO concerts or events? Too many to count! Our European tour was certainly a highlight, and an opportunity for bonding among both musicians and staff while away from everyday life in L.A.
How about any embarrassing or water-cooler moments? My worst moment was on an East Coast tour, when I didn’t hear the announcement about a change in the bus schedule heading to a concert. I was in the lobby of the hotel in New York, thinking I was extra early because nobody else was around. They were all on the bus, waiting for me! Or the time I forgot my music and realized it on the bus halfway to Pomona. That’s another story…
Has the LACO audience changed during the past few decades? We are playing more new music, and I think our audience has come a long way in accepting and enjoying that aspect of programming. New commissions, Meet the Music, and a greater scope in both education and contacts with the musical world at large have contributed to a heightened awareness in general (not to mention new challenges to the orchestra and its director).
As one of the most-established musicians on the LACO stage, what advice would you give musicians just starting out with LACO? I think we all know that one must be on one’s toes and well-prepared to step on stage with this orchestra, but the rewards are beyond description as long as those needs are met.
You’re a faculty member at CSUN and have taught at many other schools, including USC and UCLA. What advice do you give your students and aspiring musicians? I have always felt that my job is to bring out the best in each student, and it is up to each individual to discover what kind of life in music to aspire to. I try to forward information to my students about opportunities which may come their way.
You’ve performed on the soundtracks of hundreds of movies. Which stand out as your favorite scores? Which stand out as your favorite movies? Hard to say! Historically speaking, Somewhere in Time, The Little Mermaid, Avatar; and the soon-to-be-released Tomorrowland, with score by Michael Giacchino. Working with composers like John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, John Barry, Andre Desplat, Giacchino, and others has been a great experience.
What’s on your bucket list? I’m always trying to push the boundaries, reach out to audiences and fellow musicians, and spread the flow of music everywhere.
What’s one thing about you that no one would know by looking at you or attending a LACO concert? I spend lots of time with my wife Alexes (married 45 years), son Galen, and granddaughter Sierra, as well as being the Pied Piper of our neighborhood, because of the doggie treats I always have for our two guys (Snookie and Frankie) and all their canine friends. I also have arranged a lot of music for chamber music groups and also flute orchestras (Song of the Angels, Ensemble 10, etc.), with which I perform frequently as soloist. I’m also an improviser, and play as much jazz and Latin jazz music as possible. I like to jog with the dogs as well!