Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter (Who, What, Why?)

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  Since this is a long post, if you are seeing it through an e-mail, please visit the blog to see all of the photos by clicking on the title above so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

Followers of Thebeerchaser blog know that generally, each quarter I try to convey the story of an interesting individual or group – a departure from my usual reviews of bars and breweries. Originally, I posted a Beerchaser-of-the-Month, but that schedule precluded doing justice to each story, so I moved to a Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (BOQ).

Who are these people and why do I devote space in my blog to the thirty-five individual  “honorees” named during the nine + years I have been authoring Thebeerchaser. The answer is pretty simple. 

Throughout my earlier years, during my career and in retirement, I have met (or read about) many fascinating and wonderful people with compelling stories and both notable exploits and accomplishments.  Those I’ve featured may or may not have anything to do with bars or beer. Exploring how to chronicle the BOQ tales has been fun and gratifying.

The late author and humorist, Brian Doyle

I’ve known almost all the BOQ’s personally – and in a few cases, such as the late Brian Doyle – a noted NW author, I met them after writing and asking to meet them over a beer – asserting that adding the BOQ entry to their resume would pack the same punch as having a notary-of-the public designation. 

One of my early “honorees”, Princeton Emeritus Professor, Dr. Harry Frankfurt – author of the magnificent treatise, On Bullshitsurprisingly responded to the missive I sent him at the University informing him of this new accolade with the following e-mail:

Dear Mr. Williams,   First of all, thank you for the honor of naming me the January 12, 2012 Beerchaser of the Quarter.  I have looked at the blog in which you announced my receipt of this distinction, and I was impressed by its wit, its charm, and its erudition. 

Emeritus Professor Harry Frankfurt

Also, I enjoyed the pictures.  I intend to follow your blog regularly.  Anyhow, thanks very much for writing.  Sincerely,  Harry Frankfurt”

Beerchaser followers have sometimes asked for a list of all those I’ve written about.  Although you can access the posts, by clicking on the category at the left side of the blog header above, I haven’t to this point published a complete roster of this disparate group comprising academicians, athletes, authors, clerics, consultants, developers, environmentalists, friends/family, media personalities, military veterans, musicians…..well you get the idea.

Coach Dee Andros – celebrates the Giant Killer 3 to 0 victory over top-rated USC in 1967

And joining these individuals listed below, are four groupsthe 1967 Oregon State Giant Killer Football Team, the 1798-99 Crew of the USS Constitution (Unfortunately, none of whom I’ve met!), OSU Football Coach Mike Riley and his 2012 Team and Lawyers, – the latter based on the respect and admiration I gained – for at least most of them – working with these professionals for almost forty years.

Drinking a Sam Adams IPA at Dirty Nelly’s in Boston

Oh yes.  And there is, appropriately, one Beerchaser-of-the-Year (well, actually it should be 40 years).  She has been my life partner since March 29, 1980, but also supported me in the pursuit of this idiosyncratic hobby over the last nine years.  Janet even went so far as switching from her favorite vintage of wine to IPAs on our road trips exploring new watering holes.

Janet on Alaska Cruise

The BOQ’s are listed by year below in reverse chronological order ending with Harold Schlumberg – one of the few I have not met, but the first person, I named in 2011 shortly after starting Thebeerchaser.   Yes, in some years, there aren’t four but let’s not get too formal. – this is a hobby!  Before enumerating them below, I thought I’d give you an idea of their memorable exploits by this simple quiz.   The answers are at the end of the post after the list:

  1. Who are the father and daughter who both garnered this title in separate posts?
  2. What BOQ has the nickname “Godfather?”
  3. What BOQ is known as Oregon’s “Beer Goddess?”
  4. What family member of Thebeerchaser took a deep dive?
  5. Who is the only BOQ whose existence is questionable – not that that’s a bad thing!
  6. Vandelay —– Latex  – Really?

    What 2012 BOQ was recently inducted into the State of Oregon Sports Hall of Fame for two sports and what other BOQ did he join in that organization?
  7. What two persons are the only married couple named as co-BOQ for their outstanding long-term environmental work?
  8. Sam Holloway with Guinness Master Brewer, Fergal Murray

    Which BOQ is a tenured professor and internationally recognized micro-brewery industry consultant? 
  9. Which BOQ was named because of his heroic military service and is also not only an author, but served two terms as Mayor of an historic Oregon City?
  10. Which BOQ authored a book known as “the most influential crime novel of the last 50 years” and had an opening line that one author/reviewer described as “….probably the greatest opening line of any book I’ve ever read.” 
  11. Which Portland lawyer was named BOQ not only for his legal skills, but helping put Portland State College in the national spotlight during the 1960’s?
  12. Who is the BOQ who designed the memorable logo for Thebeerchaser?

You can click on the link over the name of each BOG below if you want to see the narrative and pictures in the original post.  And if you want to suggest an individual worthy of this esteemed title in the future, please leave a comment or e-mail me.

2020

Fr. Chuck Wood Catholic Priest 12/4/2020
Billy Main Football player – entrepreneur 5/25/20 – 5/11/20
Lawyers Lawyers 8/31/2020
Jack and Jan McGowan Environmentalist – non profit leaders 2/19/2020

No 22 – Billy “Rabbit” Main

2019

John Runkle Owner – The Dirty Shame Saloon  8/13/2019
Col. Terry “Spike McKinsey – USMC Marine Aviator and Base Commander 3/26/2019

Marine Aviator Terry “Spike” McKinsey

2018

The 1967 Oregon State Giant Killers Collegiate Football Team 5/20/2018
Mark Edlen Developer and Philanthropist 2/7/2018

Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, Mark Edlen

2017

Fr. Martin Grassel Benedictine Monk and Benedictine Brewer 7/1/2617
Brain Doyle – Beerchaser Eternal Author and Humorist 6/9/2017
Amy Faust Media Personality and Writer 4/11/2017

Amy Faust – now on Classical 89.9

2016

Dwight Jaynes Media Personality, Journalist and Writer 13/13/16
Kelly Gronli Symphonic Musician – Oboist 6/29/2016
Jay Waldron Attorney, Athlete, Adventurer 3/29/2016

The Godfather – Dwight Jaynes

2015

Capt. Rick Williams USN Retired Military Veteran and Energy Consultant 10/22/2015
Sam Holloway University Professor and Micro-brew Industry Consultant 8/25/2015
Lisa Morrison Bar owner, Author, Media Personality 4/9/2015

First a hardhat diver, then submarine rescue vehicle then skipper of a nuclear sub

2014

Jack Faust Lawyer and Media Personality 9/2/2014
Steve Lawrence Veteran, Lawyer, Author, Mayor 5/29/2014
Brian Doyle Author and Humorist 2/24/2014
Art Vandelay Latex??!! 1/31/2014
Janet Williams Wife and Outstanding Human Being 1/19/2014

Jack Faust and son, Charlie, at Bailey’s Taproom

2013

Johnny Brose Winemaker, Brewer, College Instructor 11/14/2013
Jud Blakely Veteran, Consultant and Writer 9/16/2013
Doug Bomarito Veteran and Lawyer 9/16/2013
Jim Westwood Attorney and Civic Leader 3/28/2013

Lt. Jud Blakely in Than Thrah Viet Nam – July 1966

2012

Forrest Green Musician, Environmentalist and Counselor 11/4/2012
Mike Riley and the OSU Football Team Coach and Players 10/23/2012
Craig “The Dude”  Hanneman Athlete, Executive, Elected Official and Mountain Climber 8/27/2012
John Terry Historian and Journalist 5/29/2012
Dr. Harry Frankfurt University Professor and Author 1/6/2012

 

The Dude on Mt. Everest Climb

2011

Four Bartenders Portland Area Mixologists 11/9/2011
James Crumley Author 9/27/2011
Harold Schlumberg Retired Chemical Engineer and Philosopher 8/29/2011

Phoebe – Bartender at the Brooklyn Park Pub – my first bar visited

Answers to the BOQ Quiz Above

  1. Jack and Amy Faust
  2. Dwight Jaynes
  3. Lisa Morrison
  4. Rick Williams – my youngest brother
  5. Art Vandelay who has a remarkable resemblance to lawyer, Carson Bowler
  6. Craig Hanneman and Dwight Jaynes
  7. Jack and Jan McGowan 
  8. Dr. Sam Holloway
  9. Steve Lawrence
  10. James Crumley
  11. Jim Westwood
  12. Jud Blakely

Cheers and Have a Safe and Joyful Christmas and Holiday Season

 

 

June 2016 Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter — Oboist Kelly Gronli

Kelly Gronli

Kelly Gronli is a wonderful mom and a professional musician who has assiduously worked on her craft since she was ten – she’s also a superb music teacher and the newest Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.  See her remarkable story below.

800px-Oboe_modernI was privileged to first meet her four years ago – about one year after I retired.   I played the oboe for three years in junior high, but gave it up because of the conflict with high school athletics.   At the Marylhurst University Annual Dinner in 2012, I asked Dr. John Paul, Director of Music, if they had any adjunct faculty members who were oboe instructors.

Thus began my relationship with this extraordinary musician who is the Principal Oboe for the Portland Opera, Oregon Ballet Theatre and the Eugene Symphony and frequently plays in Oregon Symphony appearances.

After Kelly switched from piano to oboe

After Kelly switched from piano to oboe

Her musical talents first surfaced when she was three and asserted, “Mom, it’s about time we girls started playing the piano!”  Those lessons started the musical journey that saw her Advanced Band instructor relent after he initially said, “No you didn’t!” Kelly showed him that she had, in fact, memorized the complete major and minor scales.  

Kelly’s mom was her mentor and manager and found both the orchestras and bands in which Kelly played through junior high and high school.  She started going to summer music camp at age 11 at the Sewanee Music Festival on the campus of University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee – her summer routine for five years.

I have learned in my lessons when Kelly hums or sings an excerpt in dulcet tones from a piece I am trying to learn, that she also has a strong and beautiful singing voice.  Perhaps this was honed by her youthful roles in such productions as “The Music Man” when she was in grade school as illustrated below.

A leading role in "The Music Man" while in middle school.

A leading role in “The Music Man” while in grade school.

Her music instructors opened doors and she graduated from high school one year early so she could go to music conservatory at Harid Conservatory – at age 16.  Tuition was by scholarship and the only cost was for housing.

She was the youngest of about 60 students of which about 80% were gifted foreign students.  She lived on campus in Boca Raton, Florida, a distance from her home in Vienna, Virginia. (Harid is now a school of ballet.)  She majored in Music Performance and during the summers she performed at embassies in the Washington DC area.

A "young" Kelly at a recital while at Hared Conservatory

A “young” Kelly at a recital while at Sewanee – University of the South

Next came graduate school in the Chicago area (Evanston) at Northwestern University where she worked on her Master’s Degree in Music:

“The woodwinds program of Northwestern University has a long and distinguished history – it combines the study of performance, pedagogy, music theory, music history, and scholarly research and writing.”

She achieved this goal in one year when she was just over twenty (while part-time waitressing) and her Master’s recital featured the challenging Oboe Concerto by Richard Strauss (Concerto in D major for Oboe and Small Orchestra).  The video below is the First Movement in Saint Saen’s Oboe Sonata – one of the other pieces played in that recital.  (You may have to turn your volume up slightly for this first video. The videos below are YouTube and you may have to left-click on the square to engage the video)

Another example of her ability to make beautiful music with the oboe is exemplified by one of my favorite hymns I asked her to play spontaneously at one of my lessons:

A weekend trip with a friend to the University of Wisconsin at Madison is where she first laid eyes on Patrick, the guy who would become her future spouse (now of twelve years).  

Kelly and Patrick (he also plays the drums)

Kelly and Patrick (he also plays the drums)

While living in Evanston, she decided to audition for Second Oboe in the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra – a part-time position in which she competed with nineteen other people to win the chair.

I was curious about what constitutes an audition for such a position so I asked Kelly about the typical audition experience she labels as “expensive, stressful and difficult.”

“An audition is run in rounds. The first round or preliminary round is always blind or behind a curtain. Each candidate is assigned a number and everyone plays the same pieces usually comprised of a portion of a solo work (almost always the exposition of the Mozart oboe concerto, for an oboe audition) and a few excerpts from orchestral works.

People usually play for about 10 minutes. The audition committee will then make cuts and decide who they want to hear again. If there aren’t many candidates to begin with the second round could end up being the final round or the committee can decide to hear just a couple of candidates again. Sometimes candidates will be asked questions during the finals, usually inquiring about moving to a new city or something on their resume. An audition can last 1 day or a few days depending on the number of candidates.  

Tacoma Symphony Orchestra

Tacoma Symphony Orchestra

Well, she was awarded the position and she and Patrick moved to Tacoma where Kelly also became the Principal Oboe in the Bellvue Philharmonic Orchestra.  Waitressing duties at  a Ruby Tuesday restaurant  also were on the agenda and meant she was able to spend time around people besides musicians….

A move to Portland came next to balance the distance between Tacoma and Eugene after Kelly, in a competition with twenty-five people, became  Principal Oboe in the Eugene Symphony.  By that time she was giving oboe lessons to about fifteen adult and younger students.  While in Portland, Kelly soon began to sub in the Oregon Ballet under Director and Conductor, Neil De Pointe.

The English Horn - larger than an oboe but still double reed

The English Horn – neither English nor a horn….

Adding to her resume were some appearances as a sub in the Oregon Symphony under new Musical Director Karlos Calmar, playing the English Horn – another instrument in the Kelly Gronli arsenal……(You will hear her play it in two of the duets below.)  She also became a good friend with Oregon Symphony Assistant Principal Oboe, Karen Wagner.

Meanwhile, Patrick graduated magna cum laude in Geography from Portland State University and the couple got married in 2004 – five years and one day after they met in Madison.  He now works for Northwest Natural Gas Co.

Another successful audition and Kelly’s resume now included Principal Oboe for the Portland Opera in addition to continuing similar positions with the Eugene Symphony and the Oregon Ballet – while still teaching.  In her “spare time” she was elected as a Director on the Executive Board of Musician’s Union Local 99.

12313527_10153164283550658_365572813242749224_nIn 2011, Kelly and Patrick welcomed their first child, Dane, who I know from my interactions with him during the last four years as a delightful and personable five-year old, who loves his new sister, Piper, their daughter who just turned one-year old in May.

Piper - one year old

Piper – one year old

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Kelly with Yitzhak Perlman

It is a privilege to have an instructor, who is not only a gifted communicator, but also has such extensive experience ranging from playing under Director John Williams on multiple occasions, but has also appeared with such luminaries as the world’s pre-eminent violinist, Yitzhak Perlman (three times); cellist, Yo Yo Ma, Marvin Hamlisch in addition to playing in the orchestra during appearances by Roberta Flack, Ray Charles and Debbie Reynolds.

Another highlight was playing with Phish’s  (Patrick’s favorite rock band) guitarist, composer and vocalist, Trey Anastasio, when he played at the Oregon Symphony.  Patrick also plays the drums in his own band.

Phisch

Kelly with Trey Anastasio of Phish

And while Kelly’s musical career has been noteworthy, balancing her part-time positions in different cities, motivating her students with continued admonitions – if I’m typical…… (“sit up straight, breathe from your diaphragm, look ahead at the notes in the music, fix your embouchure, sit up straight…..”) and being a good parent is a continuing balancing act.

Asked to identify her most stressful moments, she immediately offered two – Playing a concert with the Eugene Symphony while suffering from pneumonia and pleurisy.  After the performance she burst into tears and went to the Emergency Room.

  • Playing a concert in Eugene while she was nine-months pregnant because there was no back-up oboe in the Eugene Symphony at that time (the baby was delivered the next day).

The most traumatic occurrence dates back to Feburary 11, 2007 when she and two Eugene Symphony colleagues (Kjersten Oquist and Angela Svendsen) were commuting back to Portland late one Sunday evening after a rehearsal in Eugene.  A woman, who was later convicted of manslaughter, DUI and assault, collided head-on with their vehicle near Albany after the woman drove the wrong direction in the northbound lane of I-5.   Kelly’s two colleagues were both killed in the resulting collision. The driver received a sixteen-year prison sentence.

Kelly the craftsperson at work on a reed..

Kelly the craftsperson at work on a reed..

Kelly also is a craftsperson, of sorts, since she makes oboe reeds for her own use and that of her students.  The oboe is one of the few woodwinds (besides the bassoon and the English horn) that employs a double reed.

This idiosyncratic mouthpiece “consists of two pieces of cane fastened together with an opening at the tip (which are) fastened to a metal tube, the lower half of which is normally surrounded by a piece of piece of cork.”   (The tube is inserted into small opening at the top of the instrument.)  WikipediaOboe_Reed

Oboe reeds are only 7 millimeters in width and very fragile and temperamental leading to the joke: “How may oboists does it take to screw in a light bulb?  Twenty, because they will have to try that many to find one that works for them.” 

How many oboists to screw in a light-bulb...?

How many oboists to screw in a light-bulb…?

The “temperament” of the oboe reed and the very specific structure of the “embouchure” (the way in which a player holds the reed in his or her mouth) may be one reason why learning to play an oboe is so difficult and the sound emanating can range from “horrific to hand sculpted by an angelwith no middle ground whatsoever.”

While at times Thebeerchaser has reflected that trying to re-learn the oboe in retirement is a fool’s errand, it has been a worthwhile experience.  After all, I met an inspirational instructor, friend and superb professional musician in Kelly Gronli.

The highlights were appearances in the last two years at the Pittock Mansion during the Christmas holidays, when at Kelly’s urging, four of us (Pianist, Faith Carter; Flutist, Sarah Rose and Kelly and I on oboe) played one of the two-hour gigs the Mansion offers to volunteer musicians while visitors are touring the impressive dwelling.

From l to r - Sarah Rose, Santa, Don Williams, Faith Carter and Kelly Gronli

From l to r – Sarah Rose, Santa, Don Williams, Faith Carter and Kelly Gronli

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Before the first appearance in 2014, Kelly advised me that eating a banana would help with nerves.  She was correct although I have to admit to supplementing that fruit with a shot of vodka before I left the house (I wanted a vegetable extract too…..)

To listen to one of the lighter numbers we played at the Pittock during our last practice session, click on the video below:

And finally, two short duets (oboe and English horn) with Kelly and one of her students………..whose motivation to re-learn the oboe has significantly increased his affinity to drink beer!

You will see and hear more from Kelly Gronli as she continues to teach and entertain classical musical fans throughout the Northwest in the coming years.  Raise a mug to the newest Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter!

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