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Symphony President Makes a Case for Her Music

December 04, 1988|BARBARA KOH | Times Staff Writer

Being the first woman president of the orchestra association is no big deal, but rather a natural transition after years as its first vice president, Bergman said. She is also president-elect of Shomrim ("the watchers") Society of Southern California, a Jewish fraternal law enforcement organization whose previous presidents have all been male police officers. That, Bergman says, makes her "feel a little more pressure to do a good job. But I feel that they're behind me. They nominated me and asked if I would do it."

Could Be Professional

All this, plus supervising the plea negotiations, discovery motions and trial schedules of four deputy district attorneys, doesn't leave time for clarinet practice other than the Monday night rehearsals. Bergman, who plays second clarinet, could be a professional if she practiced six hours a day, Mills said.

Bergman, though, said, "I never thought of myself as making my living at music. I have a real good sound and tone, but my technique was never fabulous. . . . I could be a better player (with more time to practice). My tone is still there. It's just, the fingers won't work as fast as they used to."

She acknowledges that she could also be better if she gave up her quarter-inch-long fingernails, manicured and painted magenta to match her lipstick. At a recent rehearsal, practicing Mendelssohn's Symphony No.3, her nails clacked against her clarinet. The bassoonist has kidded her "for years, saying, 'How can you play with those nails!'. . . But I like to have my nails long. And they're mine--they're not porcelain."

Long nails or no, extra practice time or no, Bergman said she would feel "something was missing" if she weren't performing. "I'll be in the car, driving on the freeway, and I'll hear pieces (on the radio) and I'll say, 'I played that!' I can remember what it felt like to play those parts."

At dress rehearsals the day before the concerts, the orchestra plays with the hired professionals and "it all comes together," she said.

"I've never taken drugs, so I don't know what it means to be on a high, but to me, that's a high. I just get this incredible feeling that, my god, I'm part of this group that's making this beautiful sound."

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