At what age and how did you choose your instrument?

I was twelve at Walter Reed middle school in Studio City, enrolled in beginning winds class. I was attracted to the low instruments, bassoon being my second choice after baritone sax (if Flip Ruskin hadn't chosen bari, life would have turned out quite differently!) and my second instrument after drum set, which I also played through middle school. But with such an unusual choice, I hardly knew what I was getting myself into! 

What is your full-time profession and how do you balance it with other commitments?

Music is my main profession, which I balance with filmmaking. I find they complement each other well - both involve flexible assortments of gigs and projects, and there are many practical and creative ways I like to combine them. I took this summer's off-season to focus on a larger film project in Europe, and I'm grateful I had the time to do so! (will it have a live chamber music score??) 

What does chamber music mean to you?

I think musical genres and ensemble types are closely related; it's great in orchestra to have a chamber music feeling and conversely in chamber music to have a sense of conducting. Perhaps all musicians can feel somehow that they are conducting while playing (even with a separate conductor), so that there is a directed form of communication between one another and the audience. The intimate scale of chamber music can allow for this type of interaction in a very exciting way, and I like its risk and fragility, including the nearness of the audience. When these types of moments appear on the orchestral scale (with its challenges of size and distance) it is exhilarating!

What motivated you to join the VCO?

I like the idea of having colleagues from other professions with unique perspectives simply playing for their love of music! And I'm always happy to see a new ensemble forming and thriving in my hometown, which I think has plenty of room to grow. An added bonus - my grandparents live in Santa Monica, and I can walk to the ocean ;) 

Do you have any advice for young musicians?

Let your creative instincts guide you, rather than career goals or the ways you're "supposed" to play. There's no right or wrong role for music in your life, just find your own healthy balance, and be kind and respectful to yourself, your colleagues and music. 

For more information, see Daniel's website: 

Updated July 2019