Courtesy of Niel Deponte, OSO principal percussionist
Martha Herby, 1951 – 2007
by Niel dePonte, Principal Percussion, Oregon Symphony
Martha Herby, 55, became the Second Flutist of the Oregon Symphony in
1981 and also served as the Acting Principal Flute of the symphony on
many occasions. She was a graduate of the Eastman School of Music,
where she earned a Master of Music degree and the Performer’s
Certificate, before being named to the school’s faculty in 1976. She
also held the position of Principal Flute in both the Bloch Music
Festival orchestra in Newport, OR, and the Cascade Music Festival in Bend.
Martha appeared as a concerto soloist with the Oregon Symphony, the
Brockport Symphony, the Rainier Symphony, the Chautauqua Festival
Orchestra and the West Coast Chamber Orchestra, where she played
Principal Flute from 1980-1990. She taught on the faculties of The
Eastman School of Music, The National Music Camp at Interlochen, MI,
and Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR.
After making her Portland solo debut with the West Coast Chamber
Orchestra, Willamette Week wrote, “in spite of visits by Jean-Pierre
Rampal and Ransom Wilson, Herby provided the best flute playing in
Portland this year.”
Martha can be heard as both principal and second flute on most of the
Oregon Symphony’s compact disc recordings with James DePreist
conducting. She also recorded two CD’s with the Third Angle New Music Ensemble.
Martha was born in Jamestown, N.Y. and received her Bachelor’s degree
from the State University of New York college at Fredonia, where she
majored in Music Education. She studied with and was coached by some
of the world’s outstanding flutists including soloist James Galway,
Walfrid Kujala of the Chicago Symphony, James Walker of the Los
Angeles Philharmonic, Bonita Boyd of the Rochester Philharmonic and
Eastman school, and master pedagogue and soloist Keith Underwood.
Among her many extra-musical activities, Martha was an avid gardener
and member of the Oregon Symphony’s garden club, where she enjoyed
her honorary title “Queen of Dirt.” She was a collector of “Christmas
in the Village” ceramic pieces and each year built a new Christmas
Village in her home, taking up most of her living room. This served
as an excuse to invite her friends over during the holidays to see
the village and eat some of her legendary cheesecakes.
Martha is survived by her parents, Norman and Violet Herby, and her
brother and sister-in-law Paul and Sue Herby, as well as her nephews
Chris and Tim, and niece Catelin of Chanhassen, Minnesota. Her last
public performance was as a member of the Oregon Ballet Theatre
Orchestra flute section during performances of Sleeping Beauty in
June of 2007, where she performed with many of her musical colleagues
in Portland who knew and loved her, especially principal flutist
Georgeanne Ries and conductor Niel DePonte.
Martha passed away due to complications stemming from gall bladder
cancer that was diagnosed in July of 2007. Martha loved the Oregon
Symphony with all her heart and was a devoted member, participating
on many committees. At the time of her death she was one of two
orchestra members appointed to the board of directors. A memorial
service is being planned for Saturday November 10 at 2 PM.
Contributions can be made in her name to the Oregon Symphony Annual Fund Drive.