Gordonisms - Compiled by Dorli McWayne
Gordon could conduct Mahler as if he were channeling the Maestro himself. He found added musical inspiration at the concerts far beyond anything we produced at a rehearsal. Playing in the pit orchestra for FLOT (Fairbanks Light Opera Theater) he jotted down a new name for the group in German: Fairbanks Leicht Oper Gesellschaft : FLOG. We shared many a wonderful potluck dinner with him at his cabin when a visiting soloist was treated to a special night in the Alaskan woods. This always included a bit of a nighttime trek through the spruce forest, as there was no road right to Gordon's door. Even in that rustic setting he had his generator-operated stereo and extensive record collection (and TV!!). A history buff, Gordon told the most wonderful stories about composers' lives and deaths. Every time I'm walking my dog, I'm reminded that the composer Wallingford Rieger met an untimely end when his dog wrapped the leash around his master's legs, tripped him and he hit his head on the ground (a sidewalk, presumably). The tale of Anton Webern's demise obviously impressed others in the ACO as well. On a tour to Kenai, two members of the wind section who were not playing in a particular Webern piece, proceeded to don theater costumes they found backstage and act out his accidental shooting death as he lit a cigarette at night on his porch during a blackout in Europe during the war. His favorite line at the end of every fall ACO tour (especially the airborne ones): We walk away from another one. Gordon's dedication to the orchestras was all-consuming. In addition to the conducting and musical concerns, he spent huge amounts of time considering personnel matters, fundraising and publicity. A detail and list kind of guy, he also compiled the ACO roommate list every fall, and would never divulge his rational behind the assignments. As the founder of the ACO and staunch supporter of the FSO, Gordon returned from time to time to hear the orchestra and visit with friends. We all thought his visits would continue indefinitely, I guess.