Impromptu - March 2009
photo by Kirsten Beckerman
NOSE AROUND THE MUSICIANS’ CORNER on the BSO’s website BSOmusic.org and you’ll learn
all sorts of stuff. Like the fact that Bruce Moore didn’t take his first horn lesson until two months before his 20th
birthday. Or that associate concertmaster Madeline Adkins is a thrill-seeking bungee jumper. Or that if Christian Colberg
hadn’t become a violist, he might have become a photographer for National Geographic.
The site, which features everything from artsy portraits and quirky interviews to listings of BSO musicians’ upcoming
chamber music concerts, comes to readers courtesy of contrabassoonist and self-taught webmaster David Coombs. Coombs spends
10 to 20 hours a week working on the Musicians’ Corner and on other parts of the BSO site, improving the photo galleries,
updating information and figuring out how to make the site work more smoothly. “Some people play solitaire or do Sudoku.
I find writing computer programs the equivalent of doing puzzles,” says Coombs, who is also a webmaster for the BSO
Musicians web site.
Readers of the Musicians’ Corner can learn from Coombs’ profile on the site that his interest in computer
programming dates back to a time when computers were behemoths that filled entire rooms and used punch cards. “My master’s
thesis in music theory was a computerized analysis of Bach’s cello suites,” he says. Then when he was fresh out
of the Eastman School of Music and working as a freelance musician, he took a day job working as a computer programmer for
a tiny Manhattan software company. Two-and-a-half years later when he joined the BSO in 1982, programming went from a job
to a hobby. It’s not an easy hobby to master, but Coombs enjoys the challenge. “One of the good things about programming
is there are always new things to learn,” he says. — Maria Blackburn
Read more about David