Meet the Musicians: Andy Radford

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Creating Good Karma and Paying it Forward

Dividing his time between Los Angeles and the Santa Barbara Riviera, Andy Radford enjoys the best of Southern California’s scenery, cuisine, art, and culture.

Having played principal bassoon in the California Philharmonic since its inception, Andy has now taken on a new position as Cover Conductor for the orchestra. (It’s a little like being understudy for the star.)

As a full-time instrumentalist and educator, Mr. Radford was always drawn to conducting; in fact, he conducted the Stanford Marching Band at a PBS auction in San Francisco when he was just thirteen. He grew up around Oakland and Berkeley, playing piano and trumpet but then he found the one instrument "no one else was playing" - bassoon.

Mr. Radford received a scholarship to the California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts) where he "played basketball, watched movies, studied West African Music and practiced bassoon" for four years.

He was accepted right out of college into the ranks of the YMFA Debut Orchestra for young professionals, as well as the Pasadena Symphony Orchestra. He then moved to Hof, Germany, a small town on the border of Czechoslovakia, playing for several years with the Hof Symphony. He left just before The Wall came down.

It wasn’t the only time Andy found himself playing bassoon in the midst of revolution; he was working at a recording session at FOX Studios for "The Last of the Mohicans" when the LA Riots broke out.

The recording work stopped abruptly and the musicians were informed that the rest of the buildings had been evacuated and the National Guard was coming to use the studio as their base.

Mr. Radford has since played on hundreds of movie soundtracks (fortunately with none of them disrupted by civil upheaval), including "Forrest Gump," "The Incredibles," "Jurassic World," "Zootopia," and "Star Trek."

At present he serves as the Event Producer of the Ojai Music Festival and is the Principal Bassoonist of the Santa Barbara Symphony and the California Philharmonic. He loves the family feeling Maestro Vener creates with the Cal Phil as well as the "beautiful, diverse venues" where they perform. Attuned to the ambiance of his environs, Mr. Radford appreciates that "each venue has its own identity," as well as its own vantage point for the performers.

He recalls looking out at 3,000 peacocks at the Arboretum where the Cal Phil used to play and at the vibrant moon so clearly visible from the bowl at the Santa Anita Race Track. And now, he enjoys the experience of peering down the "prow of a Viking Ship" at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

His mother was a music teacher and Andy carries on the tradition, serving on the faculty of the UCSB and Westmont College Music Departments, as well as being very involved with the Music Education Programs of the Santa Barbara Symphony and conducting the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony. He and his wife, violinist and educator Amy Hagen, also co-founded the Ojai Youth Symphony. "If you can help somebody, you should," is his motto. "Karma is good. It pays onward exponentially."

Together, Andy Radford and the Cal Phil are paying it forward, inspiring new generations with the gift of classical music.

California Philharmonic