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Frank Donaruma is Principal French Horn of American Ballet orchestra at Lincoln Center, New York. His stellar career as a French horn player covers every facet of the music industry – symphony, opera, chamber, soloist, ballet, and pops – in concert halls, Broadway theaters, television, radio, recordings and film soundtracks. He has decades of involvement and experience in musicians’ unions’ governance and contract negotiations.
Donaruma has been Principal Horn of the Kansas City Philharmonic, The Royal Ballet, New Jersey Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Queens Symphony, and as substitute Principal in the Indianapolis Symphony, New York Pops Orchestra, The Brooklyn Philharmonic and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. He presently continues as Principal Horn in Queens and The American Ballet Theatre in New York. Besides his Principal Horn work, his orchestral experience includes the Metropolitan Opera and various ballet tours.
As a soloist Donaruma has performed concertos with many of these orchestras. He has also had a distinguished career as a chamber musician, touring the world with the Phoenix Woodwind Quintet for seven years, and with the American Brass Quintet for the 1963 tour.
Television and Radio and Recordings and Films and Broadway
Among his television appearances are several with American Ballet Theatre, including performances of Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo & Juliet, Petroushka and Firebird. Other TV broadcasts include the New York City Ballet, the New York Philharmonic with Leonard Bernstein and Zubin Mehta, the New Jersey Symphony in a worldwide United Nations Day broadcast, and other TV staples such as Rosie O’Donnell and David Letterman. During his tenure at the Metropolitan Opera, he made many live radio broadcasts for Texaco.
Donaruma’s recording credits are extensive: from the Baltimore Symphony and the Metropolitan Opera to the Charlie Mingus Big Band, Peter Nero, Lee Konitz, and the New York Neophonic Orchestra. He has made many film soundtracks, including Reds (Warren Beatty), Garbo Talks, Billy Bathgate, Cape Fear, and Swamp Thing.
He has opened many Broadway shows, including: Oliver, Hyman Kaplan, A Dolls Life, My Fair Lady, The Boy and The Aviator, Sho-Gun, and 1776.
Donaruma has always participated in union governance activities, often being on the negotiating committees or representing the union and the musicians. He has spent much time as a rank and file negotiator on contracts with Broadway theaters, New Jersey Symphony, NJPAC, American Ballet Theater, The Omni Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic, and the Queens Symphony, and on the Audio Visual agreement dealing with international re-use and market distribution.
He has worked for decades for improved working conditions and fairness in theatres and orchestras. His concept of a "short-fall fund" helps to keep the musicians of ten orchestras in the musicians’ Health Insurance Fund.
Research work at New York University involved Donamura in a project with economist Robert Lindsey, studying the work patterns and economic status of freelance musicians.
Teaching Music and Musicians
Throughout his performing career, Donaruma has taught extensively, focusing on professional-level horn players and musicians who have gone on to top-flight jobs in the orchestra field. In addition to private teaching, he has been affiliated with Westchester College and the Bennington Composers Conference. He also developed school programs for students grades 1–12 in conjunction with his work for the Phoenix Woodwind Quintet under grants from the Rockefeller, Victoria and Levintritt Foundations.
Donaruma is intent on developing his skills as a professional mediator. He has completed basic mediation training at the New York City Bar Association, and basic divorce mediation training at the Center for Mediation and Training in New York City. He has also completed the New Jersey State Foreclosure Mediation training program, and presently serves as a mediator for the Bergen County (NJ) Superior Court.
Donaruma is a collector of fine string instruments, and is respected for his knowledge in that field.
For relaxation, he embraces cooking, and particularly, cooking for a crowd. He has catered weddings and family functions, and with his wife, enjoys nothing more than having 20 friends over for a holiday dinner, featuring Italian, Lebanese, and Japanese food. He is an experienced vintner, and his reds, roses and white wines (as well as his limoncello) have been enjoyed by friends and colleagues for years. Forever a gardener, he is constantly working to improve the quality and yield of his summer produce, including many vegetables and herbs.
A Family of Professionals
Donaruma’s wife, Atsuko Sato, was born in Yokohama, Japan. She is the Bassoonist in the 20+-year Broadway hit Phantom of the Opera, as well as Queens Symphony Orchestra, New Philharmonic of New Jersey, The Discovery Orchestra, and Englewinds. She was a former member of the Detroit Symphony and Rutgers University faculty.
His daughter Lila is in the restaurant business in California, while son Enrico is an artist and designer of kitchens, and daughter Erika is an interior designer for HOK, a global architectural firm that specializes in planning, design and delivery of solutions for sustainable buildings and communities.
The Donarumas have an apartment in Torre del Orso Italy, overlooking the Adriatic Sea.
Donaruma attended the Eastman School of Music, the Manhattan School of Music and New York University.
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