Offstage: Maria Harding

Tuesday, September 15

Get to know the musicians of the Omaha Symphony from their front porches.

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Not up close but still personal: Maria Harding, Principal Flute

Our musicians have been away from the concert hall since March, and they can't wait to get back to doing what they do best—performing live orchestral music for our community! They'll be able to do that soon, as the music returns safely to the stage this October for the Centennial Overtures fall festival.

While we eagerly await our swift return to in-person concerts, we're giving you a glimpse into the lives of our musicians—off the stage. We visited with Principal Flute Maria Harding from her front porch to get a glimpse into life as a musician in these times.

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Maria lives in Midtown with her husband, flutist and educator Nestor Herszbaum, and their son and daughter. She loves to spend time in her sunroom and in her garden, where she grows a variety of flowers and vegetables.

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Maria happens to have many talents you may not expect a professional flutist to have—we asked her about those, and she gave advice for first time symphony-goers.

What do you like to do when you’re not playing music?

I write for Women’s Edition magazine, and serve as contributor and special editor for Fine Lines Quarterly. Through my work with the League of Women Voters, I volunteer as Deputy Registrar, registering voters at public events and naturalization ceremonies. I also frequent Fontenelle Forest, Henry Doorly Zoo, Lauritzen Gardens, and Joslyn Art Museum. So much to do in this great city!

If you could choose another instrument of the orchestra to play instead of the flute, what would it be?

I love the cello! It looks so comfortable to play—no lopsided contortions. And for heaven’s sake, bring on that bass clef!

What would you be doing if you weren’t a professional musician?

Before getting serious about music, I was drawn to pursue a career in advertising as a copywriter. Wouldn’t it be fun to generate ideas for those ad campaigns?

What would you tell someone who has never been to the symphony but is interested in attending a performance?

Pick two performances—one that you’re pretty sure you’ll enjoy, and a second program that you know nothing about, maybe even selected from a different series. In each instance, do a little research before going to the performance. Knowing something about the composers, the inspiration behind the works, the historical period represented, the guest artist, or even one of the orchestral instruments can make attending a live performance even more fulfilling.

What’s your favorite “physical distancing trend”?

Our children are young adults, and by necessity, they have been spending a lot more time with us at home. Most evenings we watch Star Trek or Rick and Morty, and we play poker. I’m not the chip leader by any means, but I’m loving every minute of this time with them.

What have you been reading?

My reading these past couple of months has run the gamut. I’m (re)reading classics like The Picture of Dorian Gray, Heidi, and Old Jules, covering some middle-ground with crazy Kurt Vonnegut, and basking in some shameless, saccharine young adult fiction like Harry Potter and Twilight. Yes, I’ll admit it. These are crazy times, indeed.

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Meet the rest of the orchestra here.

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