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Pacific Names Sheryl Staples to Concertmaster Post : Music: Carl St.Clair cites a strong connection with the 25-year-old L.A. violinist, a 10-year veteran who hopes to 'put a mark' on PSO.

August 17, 1994|CHRIS PASLES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — Sheryl Staples, a 25-year-old violinist from Los Angeles, will take over as concertmaster of the Pacific Symphony on Oct. 1. Her appointment, announced today, fills a critical position left vacant when Endre( Granat resigned last year after 10 seasons.

While not unprecedented, the appointment of someone of Staples' age is unusual.

"Even though she is relatively very young, she has been playing concertmaster roughly half her life in various orchestras," PSO music director Carl St.Clair, who chose Staples, said this week from New Zealand, where he is conducting two programs with the Auckland Philharmonic.

St.Clair said Staples' 10 years of experience as a concertmaster most recently has included 4 1/2 seasons with the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra and two seasons with the Japan America Symphony in Los Angeles. Staples said she plans to step down from both positions to concentrate on her work with the Pacific.

Orchestra administrators would not reveal the length or other terms of her contract.

St.Clair said he picked Staples from nine finalists after a yearlong international search. Each finalist had been a guest concertmaster with the orchestra last season at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa.

"I really felt a very strong musical connection with her," St.Clair said. "She has an uncanny ability to read the gestures of a conductor in a nonverbal way and communicate them to other musicians."

"I'm really looking forward to the opportunity of working with the musicians and with Carl," Staples said from La Jolla, where she was playing in the Summerfest Chamber Music Festival.

"A concertmaster or a section leader can put a mark on that section of the orchestra. That's something I hope to contribute to the violin section in particular."

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A student of Robert Lipsett from the age of 9, Staples teaches violin at USC, where she received the first and, so far, the only Artist Diploma, a specialized performance degree, in 1991. Until a year ago, she was a member of the Southwest Chamber Music Society.

In addition to playing with the Pacific in Costa Mesa last season, she joined the orchestra as concertmaster for one of its concerts at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre last summer and played in a Pacific chamber music program in February at the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art in Santa Ana.

She since has formed a trio with her colleagues for the museum program, pianist John Novacek and Pacific Symphony principal cellist Timothy Landauer, an association she plans to continue.

She will be the 15-year-old orchestra's fifth concertmaster, having been preceded by Madeleine Schatz, John Sambuco, Israel Baker and Granat.

Staples plays a 1720 Guarnerius "del Gesu" violin, on loan from a private owner through an arrangement with the Stradivari Society of Bein and Fushi Inc. in Chicago.

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