It is with great sadness that I pass on the news from the San Francisco Symphony this morning that William Bennett, Principal Oboist, has passed away. Mr Bennett suffered a brain hemorrhage during his performance of the Strauss Oboe Concerto with the Symphony last Saturday evening, February 23, at Davies Symphony Hall.
Music Director, Michael Tilson Thomas, says: “I am heartbroken by the tragic death of Bill Bennett, which has left a terrible, sad emptiness in the hearts of the whole San Francisco Symphony family. Bill was a great artist, an original thinker, and a wonderful man. He was very generous with his attention and affection for his friends, colleagues, students, and audience members. We all experienced his sunny enthusiasm for music and life. I am saddened to have lost such a true friend.”
Brent Assink, Executive Director of the SF Symphony, added: “How fortunate we all were that Bill Bennett was our Principal Oboe. His artistry transported us. He touched audiences around the world with his music and the warmth of his personality. We are all stunned at his sudden passing. His legacy will continue to be felt through his countless students and in the performances of the San Francisco Symphony for many years to come. While all of us here, the musicians, board and staff of the San Francisco Symphony, grieve with the entire Bay Area community, we also extend our love and support to Bill’s family.“
Mr Bennett was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1956, and joined the San Francisco Symphony in 1979. He became Principal Oboist in 1987, and in the words of the press announcement, “During his many years as a mainstay of the Orchestra, he attracted the esteem and admiration not just of colleagues, but of listeners”.
I am sure that all readers will join me in sending sincerest condolences to Mr Bennett’s family and to all at the San Francisco Symphony. The Symphony is accepting condolences on behalf of the family at 201 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102, and messages can be posted at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/williambennett1.