Last week, an old friend of mine contacted me to let me know that Bud Herseth was doing poorly and that I should give him a call. Bud, as you may know, is the legendary former principal trumpet for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. “Legendary” is a word that can be thrown around lightly, but in this case it’s an apt term. Bud, arguably more than anyone else, helped define the very sound of the CSO — a sound that still endures.
I became friendly with Bud when I became obsessed for a few years with learning to replay the trumpet (after not playing since high school.) I interviewed him for Artbeat Chicago and one thing led to another and my wife and I socialized with him a handful of memorable times. I would call him on his birthday, but had not seen him in recent years as his health declined.
I got the heads-up about Bud at 6:30 pm, while I was getting ready to go on the air but something made me call him immediately. Bud’s wife, Avis, picked up the phone and handed me off to him. I knew it might be the last conversation we would ever have, so I did my best to make the words count–not idle chit-chat, but something of substance and appreciation. I did not want to ever think, “I wish I had told Bud…”
I am so grateful to have had that conversation — and that I didn’t put it off. It’s a gift, isn’t it? As I think of the families of the bombing victims in Boston, I’m reminded of how we hardly ever know when a conversation with someone we care about will be the last one.
Last night, we aired a clip of my interview with Bud. You can watch the entire conversation below.