Search form

Holly Blake - Behind the Scenes

April 04, 2013

Holly Blake Contrabassoon

Each month in the Orchestra’s Playbill, we feature one musician in a question-and-answer segment. Below is that feature in its entirety.

Where were you born? Philadelphia, PA.

What piece of music could you play over and over again? Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances.

What is your most treasured possession? My possessions are expendable or replaceable. I treasure my family above all.

What’s your favorite Philadelphia restaurant? We always have a great meal at Fiorino in East Falls.

Tell us about your instrument. My contrabassoon is a Heckel from the 1930s. It was originally owned by the New York Philharmonic, then the Cincinnati Symphony. I purchased it from the retired contrabassoonist there in 1993 and have played it here ever since. The Philadelphia Orchestra also owns a wonderful historic Heckel contrabassoon from the early 20th century.

What’s in your instrument case? My Heckel bassoon, two bocals [mouthpieces], two swabs, a seat strap, a water bottle, three reed boxes, 15 reeds, a pouch of reed-making tools, magnifiers, a tuner, a pencil, and a silk scarf to protect the instrument.


If you could ask one composer one question what would it be? I would ask Brahms to write a concerto for bassoon.

What piece of music never fails to move you? Mozart’s Requiem.

When did you join the Orchestra? 1992.

Do you play any other instruments? I play piano for my own relaxation and enjoyment.

What’s your favorite type of food? My husband (Mark Gigliotti) is Italian. Simple red sauce and pasta with a little Reggiano cheese. The best around!  

What books are on your nightstand? Hard copy or e-reader? The pile is too big! But subjects are yoga, religion, and politics. Hard copies! 

Do you speak any other languages? Unfortunately not. But I can get by with a little Spanish and French.

Do you follow any blogs? No.

Do you have any hobbies? Yoga (more of a lifestyle than a hobby), gardening, skiing, running, and swimming.

Do you have a favorite movie? I really enjoyed the current movie Lincoln.

Is there a piece of music that isn’t in the standard orchestral repertoire that should be? Perhaps there is an undiscovered contrabassoon concerto written by Ravel?

What’s the last recording you purchased? CD or Download? A set of CDs featuring the original Philadelphia Woodwind Quintet.

What’s on your iPod? Nothing classical! Some popular music of my generation: the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, and Cat Stevens to name a few.

When was the first time you heard The Philadelphia Orchestra? As a young student in the early 1970s. One of the most memorable early performances I heard was of Rudolph Serkin playing Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto.

Other than Verizon Hall, where is your favorite place to perform? I love playing at the Musikverein in Vienna.

Photo by Chris Lee

Read other "Musicians Behind the Scenes" Playbill features.