57-year-old Frank Almond, concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO), has played his final concert in the role. Almond spent a quarter of a century sitting at the front of the MSO and has had a storied career.
In 2014, he featured in many a headline, owing to the high-profile theft of his violin, the "Lipinski" Stradivarius of 1715. The thief, Milwaukee man Salah Jones, attacked Almond with a stun gun in order to gain possession of the instrument. Jones was eventually apprehended, found guilty, and sentenced to seven years in prison. A documentary detailing the incident, entitled "Plucked," premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2019.
However, it was personal circumstances that forced Almond to resign from his post as concertmaster. His wife Kate sadly passed away in 2017 after a lengthy struggle with breast cancer, leaving Almond a single father to two teenage children. At that point, it became clear to him that he could no longer balance the demands of his personal life with the demands of his role in the MSO.
"For four to five years I had ideas I couldn’t do for either professional reasons or Kate’s illness," Almond said of the decision to resign. "[During the 2019 season] it became untenable. Ken-David Masur and I get along great, but I think he should have the opportunity to find someone to take the strings section in a different direction."
"I want to build the Frankly Music chamber music series and continue to grow my teaching at Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra," said Almond of his plans for the future. "I hope to change the chamber music landscape, and get the arts more out into under-served communities, like schools and prisons, on a regular basis."