CSO Piccolo Player Joan Voorhees
"My father used to say that he made dollar bills by day and music by night," says CSO piccolo player Joan Voorhees as she talks about her childhood in Maryland. Her father worked at The Bureau of Engraving and Printing and was also an accomplished jazz guitarist.
"Yet, my mom played only the radio, and my grandmother always said that Mom married Dad because he played the guitar, and he married her because she had a job!"
JoJo, as Joan is known to her friends and colleagues, inherited her parents' love of music, as well as her father's skill. The first song she learned to play on was "Never on Sunday." At 16, she was the principal flutist in the University of Maryland Orchestra, and she would continue in that role until her college graduation in 1978.
A regular substitute for the National Symphony, JoJo auditioned five times for the orchestra, each time making the finals. "One of my best memories while living in Maryland was performing a series of concerts with Pete Seger," she shares.
JoJo brought her piccolo to Cincinnati in 1991, as she was hired on September 23, 1991 and performed in her first concert on November 13. Her parents were so proud and happy that JoJo could play music full-time. It reminded her what her dad used to say, "Let music be your cake, and let something else be your bread and butter." For JoJo, it's both.
As a new member of the Orchestra, she recalls with a laugh that it took her nearly the entire season to figure out who was who among stand partners Conny Kiradjieff and Larrie Howard. "I didn't realize that I had them mixed-up," says JoJo. "Conny was the gentleman among the two, and Larrie, the woman."
Her 23 seasons with the CSO have spanned three music directors, several tours, thousands of concerts and rehearsals and many more memories.
"I love Verdi's Requiem, and any concert I get to play it is a favorite. I am really looking forward to playing it with Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos conducting," she says.
During the CSO's 2008 European tour, she recalls playing a Shostakovich concert in Amsterdam — "The hall was so favorable to the piccolo."
And, it was on a tour of Florida that JoJo last performed in front of her mother. "My mom came to see us in Ft. Myers, and I remember hitting a high D that I was so proud of!"
A New York Times article about Louis Langrée's inaugural is of great pride for JoJo, for a number of reasons. "He's such a genuine man. His sharing the Times article about his inaugural concert with me was so thoughtful — even pointing-out where the reporter mentioned me."
She continues about Louis, "His energy is so infectious. It's hard not to smile when he's on the podium. Watching him is such a joy!"
When asked about what it would be like to have her piccolo chair endowed, she's quick with a response, "Oh my! It would be the greatest honor!"
"The ensemble played with fleet, agility, with particularly eloquent solos from the oboist Dwight Parry and the piccolo player Joan Voorhees, her tone immaculate."
— New York Times, November 11, 2013, discussing Louis Langrée's Inaugural Weekend