Bonnie is an active cellist, teacher, writer, reader, kayaker, nature lover, dog lover, pickleball player, citizen activist, free spirit and spiritual thinker. To the Utah Symphony, she is a devoted and high-energy performer who devoted 38 years to the orchestra from 1969-2007. Her experience under the baton of the legendary Maurice Abravanel in the 1970s forever impacted and influenced her career, and she immediately felt a kindred spirit connection with him. His energy, passion, and commitment to musical integrity were passed on through Bonnie and other long-time symphony members. Subsequently, Bonnie never ceased to give every performance her all, bringing her full emotional and physical energy to the table with each performance.
I called Bonnie at her Teasdale home in scenic, rural Southern Utah to see if she would be available for an interview. She was working on a book she is writing on “finding the soul in music,” as she says. Bonnie composes for the cello and plans on including a set of fifteen cello pieces within the book. She also has a second book in its initial planning stages– a manual for citizen activists. She imparted one big idea to me on a topic that she has learned over the years: being passionate for something is much more advantageous than being passionate against something. I cannot help but think this positive attitude stems from the joyousness that Bonnie described in Maurice Abravanel, or at least that this joyousness is a mutual link between the two of them.
It’s no wonder Bonnie is thriving, for as she puts it, she lives in an oasis of inspiration. “It’s just about the most beautiful place on the planet,” she says. “It’s extraordinarily quiet, just the sound of wind and humming birds. It’s rural.” She shares her space with her rescue border collie, Mari, a true runner. Her reminiscences of Salt Lake are happy ones, recalling her home on Capitol Hill, her activism in the city, and of course, the Symphony. She recalls kayaking until midnight on the Great Salt Lake, as well as vocally acknowledging her ‘religion’ as the Church of the Great Salt Lake. (Bonnie is spiritual, but claims no religion.)
I’ve never met Bonnie personally, but her way of speaking conveys intelligence and authority. She was modest and patient, waiting for me to ask questions rather than offering her own. She was just as eager to learn about me as I was about her, often reciprocating my questions with, “What do you think?” I look forward to meeting her this summer when the Utah Symphony embarks on its Mighty Five tour of the state’s five national parks, since Teasdale will be the performance location of our Capitol Reef visit. Bonnie looks forward to many more performances to come of her own, including joint concerts with her sister, pianist Marilyn Garst, to be held in Durango, CO. Bonnie is delighted that she now plays cello more than ever before.