In this time of strife for orchestral musicians, it is refreshing to remember just how dedicated many have been throughout their careers. Norman Lebrecht posted on his blog a “near-definitive” list of the longest serving orchestral musicians. While it will surely continue to be updated and changed as more information comes forth, it is significant to note that women performers hold the top two positions.
Frances Darger, a violinist at the Utah Symphony holds the honor of being the longest serving orchestral performer. She joined the symphony in 1942 and is still performing actively – 69 years later. (In that time she did take one year off, but has performed with the symphony continuously since then.)
The woman in second place is Jane Little, Assistant Principal Bass Emeritus for the Atlanta Symphony. She joined the symphony in 1945, when it was still the Atlanta Youth Symphony, and has performed with the group through the official change of name and over the decades, and is still a current member 66 years later.
Congratulations to Mrs. Darger and Ms. Little, and all of the women who have been dedicated musicians in orchestras throughout the United States, and the world, and whose dedication is probably more often than not overlooked.