I’m so sorry to have to tell you that Jim Matheson passed away yesterday. He had been in ill health for a while, but news like this is still sad.
Jim was in the San Francisco Symphony and Opera and moved completely to opera when the two split into two groups (I THINK that’s how that worked, anyway). He was, to me, a fearless player. I was always in awe that he seemed so relaxed and just went for it! He taught at Stanford and San Francisco State, and played in the Stanford Woodwind Quintet. I went to hear the quintet once and he was astounding when he had an incredibly fast passage of thirds. I talked to him about it after and he said one of his teachers told him to practice them a LOT because they appear so frequently in things. My students can thank him for my making them learn them! He was also the one who encouraged me to stick with my Marigaux despite its age, when so many were saying we should dump our oboes after a certain amount of time. “Do you like it?” he asked. “Yes!” “Does it still play well?” “Oh yes!” “Then why get rid of it?” He was a kind, kind man.
When he subbed for us in San Jose Symphony, which he did graciously and with no attitude of “moving down” to our group, he was a joy. He also would grab my oboe or English horn and start fiddling with it if he heard I was having difficulty. He loved to adjust instruments and I remember a friend saying that he did this to hers just minutes before a concert was to begin. She was terrified … but of course he knew what he was doing!
Rest in peace, Jim.
I have borrowed this photo from a website. I do hope that’s okay.