Shepherd’s Drosinos: the real Greek life
Have you noticed lately that the authentic Mad Men have tapped into the state of the economy in a most sensitive way. Yup … they’re hawking old fashioned family togetherness; gathering around the dinner table, enjoying loved ones, long walks, camp-outs, game night and, yes, watching TV together. The lead-in subliminally suggests rediscovering the warmth of home and hearth saves you money. Then the pitch promotes something you must buy to recapture that “family feeling.” You gotta love ’em.
There’s truth in the message, but there’s a false assumption that family togetherness is a lost art. Take a stroll down German Street or a trip to Morgan Grove Park on any sunny Sunday and you’ll see them having fun, together. I’m not trying to paint a rosy picture of the state of the economy, I’m just saying families, young and old, are still enjoying time together.
Shepherdstown isn’t alone in this. Cockeysville, Maryland is home to the Drosinos family. Like many other families whose heritage stems from another country, the Drosinos’ life in America is a blend of old and new and life-long loving togetherness.
David Drosinos was the fifth child of Jeannette and John Drosinos. There were four boys – Pete, Mike, Stephen, David, daughter Angie and David was the baby by almost a decade. Jeannette and John were both first generation children of immigrants from the Greek island of Chios “fragrant flower of the Aegean.” When David Drosinos’ grandparents came to the United States and settled in Baltimore they brought their family values of togetherness, pride and loyalty with them and taught their children well. “Did you see ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding?” David asked laughing. “That’s us.”
When David Drosinos was still just a little guy his family moved from Baltimore City to the outskirt town of Cockeysville. The older Drosinos kids were big high school athletes. Mike played football, Steve was on the wrestling team, Angie was into gymnastics and basketball, and baseball was Pete’s sport. Peter Drosinos was scouted by the Orioles. So was little brother into sports? “Nope, I was into music. My Mom’s sister Aunt Jean played the violin and my cousin Peter played a big belly guitar called a Bouzouki. They planted that love of Greek music seed in me.” “My Dad, God rest his soul, love Greek music but not so much classical. I’d say Dad, you can come to my concerts as long as you don’t snore.”
When David was eight it was discovered that he had a real talent for the clarinet. “For seven years I really I liked the clarinet but when I was fifteen I heard (Eugene) Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra play Rhapsody in Blue and that’s when I fell in love with the clarinet.”
At Dulaney High David was in the marching band and those were the years that the Dulaney band was all-county and all-state. He then went on to graduate from the Peabody Conservatory of Music where he studied with Loren Kitt, principal clarinetist with the National Symphony. As with all of his many achievements David Drosonis first gives the credit for his success to his teachers: Kitt, high school band director Jim Wharton, first clarinet teacher Marian Compello and so on.
It was this association with people who lived to nurture young talent that led David to teaching. “I really didn’t start off to teach but when I realized what kind of effect, difference, a good teacher and a mentor has on a student, that’s what I wanted to do.” His take on playing the clarinet – “We’re story tellers.” he said “In your head you create a story of emotions and the instrument is your voice. Every student has a story to tell.”
Today David teaches clarinet at Baltimore School for the Arts, Peabody Preparatory and, at Shepherd University. How did that happen? “I was recommended for a teaching position on the personal recommendation of Shepherd trumpet teacher Wayne Cameron. “I came to talk and met Mark McCoy and that cinched it. I really wanted to work with him.” That was fifteen years ago and since then his teaching and mentoring has sped hundreds of young musicians on to professional success. Of his students he said “I get more from them then they do from me.”
David Drosinos is one of the best clarinetists in the country. He’s played with the National Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, Peabody Symphony, South Florida Symphony, performed with others in Greece, Ireland, Russia, Finland, the Bahamas and throughout the continental United States. He’s a frequent guest artist at the Greek Embassy in Washington and holds the Sidney Jensen Memorial Award for outstanding clarinet performance. The Washington Post praised his playing as “unusually smooth” and the Baltimore Sun accused his music of being “confident and dynamic, spinning the lyrical lines with exceptionally eloquent phrasing and warmth.” David is known for his brilliance with classical pieces, but he equally loves Greek music. Actually, he’s crazy about all ethnic music. “Anything ethnic, I eat it up alive.” When asked what’s constitutes “good music?” he said. “Music transcends all things. It’s creates an out of body experience. Likes and dislikes are a personal choice. I personally think that if you can connect, that’s good music. “
The Two Rivers Chamber Orchestra is coming to the Frank Center next Saturday, March 13. The concert will include a masterpiece by Mozart – Concerto for Clarinet in A – David Drosinos is the soloist. This evening is not to be missed.
And on Sunday, David will perform at the weekly gathering in one of the Drosinos’ kitchens around Cockeysville with his famous lamb chop stew, (a slow-cooked creation of lamb, lemon, secret spices and sweet red wine) and in the living room for a concert of lively, passionate, soulful Greek jazz. “There’s no great love than for family. We’re all friends. ” Sunday’s at Drosonis’ – expect thirty for dinner.