Thursday, January 8, 2009
Attorney Gary S. Greene: Conducts Depositions, Conducts Orchestras
Is Forming ‘Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic’
Music is as much a part of Los Angeles litigation attorney Gary S. Greene’s daily routine as breakfast.
His whole life, he says, he would eat breakfast, then take out his violin. “I never really thought about it,” he recalls. “It was just normal.”
Greene began playing the violin at the age of 11 while a student at Bancroft Middle School near Hollywood. Back then, he remembers, the Los Angeles Unified School District offered music lessons to students, and “it was expected for students to learn an instrument.”
He bemoans the loss of music classes in the public schools, claiming music is “an integral part of education and society” and “one of the best gifts you can give a child.”
Such a belief in the importance of music for children led his uncle, Dr. Ernest Katz, to found the Los Angeles Jr. Philharmonic Orchestra in 1937, Greene says. Katz, a former concert pianist, conductor and composer, accepted any musician, based on musical ability, regardless of gender, which was “revolutionary” at the time, Greene says. Katz also refused to solicit contributions or charge membership or audition fees, Greene adds.
More than 10,000 musicians have passed through the orchestra’s seats, including Greene. He joined the orchestra at the age of 13, as a violinist, but admits he chose the violin because the first violinist is the concert master, who is next in authority to the conductor.
“I always felt like conducting,” he says. “It’s like leading an army out there.”
Orchestra members are all between the ages of 12 through 25, but Greene says proudly, “it’s as good as any professional orchestra.”
Although he discloses that there are pictures of him when he was 4 or 5 waving a baton around, he insists those pictures will never be shown to the public. He started conducting the orchestra at 15, learning the art from observation and experience.
A major performance takes place once a year at such venues as the Music Center, the Shrine Auditorium, or Disney Concert Hall. For the past three years, Greene has been sole conductor, his uncle now being 94.
During his tenure, he says he has led the orchestra through most of the major classical works, and he has wielded the baton for contemporary pieces featuring performers such as Debby Boone, Pat Boone, Kevin Early, Richard Fredricks, Robert Goulet, Peter Graves, Florence Henderson, Dale Kristin, Carol Lawrence, Brock Peters, Stefanie Powers, Debbie Reynolds, Jan and Mickey Rooney, Sha Na Na, Dick Van Dyke and Michael York.
The attorney also serves as the orchestra’s director, manager and producer.
“I wear a lot of hats,” Greene says. But fortunately for him, auditions for the orchestra are held on the first floor of the building that houses Greene’s law office, as well as his family’s hat manufacturing business.
Greene says that the interruption of an audition or a rehearsal is a welcome break when he is tired or under stress from a trial. “It’s a great change of pace to be able to go back and forth,” he says.
While the law practice is “where I make my living,” Greene maintains “music is my relaxation.”
Lawyers ‘Burning Out’
He expresses concern that “too many attorneys are burning out,” and opines “unless somebody has outlets to relax and get a change of pace, [law] can really have its toll.”
One potential outlet that Greene has been developing is the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic Orchestra, a full sized, non-profit symphony orchestra comprised of judges and lawyers.
An initial group of about 28 musicians will present the Lawyers Philharmonic’s premier performance Jan. 30 at the Metropolitan News-Enterprise’s “Person of the Year” dinner, performing selected popular works, Greene says. Actress June Lockhart is scheduled to introduce the orchestra.
Despite having received “a very enthusiastic response,” the conductor notes that he still needs a couple of cellists, additional bassoonists, and a harpist.
After the initial performance, Greene says he hopes to expand the orchestra to about 65 members and increase its repertoire. At that time, he says, the orchestra will also be seeking more string instrument players.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company