PBO: Board of Directors

Ross Armstrong

Ross Armstrong
Chair: Education Committee

Board member since: 2005

Bio: Ross grew up in Avoca, a small town in western New York State. He studied piano from the time he was eight years old, and later played the organ at local churches and the cornet in school bands. He continued to develop his interest in music through his early college years, but eventually decided to pursue a career in medicine.

Following studies in Stony Brook and Syracuse, New York, he moved to California in 1980 to continue his medical training with the US Air Force at Travis AFB. Since 1987, he has been living in Oakland and working with the Kaiser Permanente medical group in Walnut Creek, where he served as Chief of the Medicine Department from 1994 until the end of 2001. He continues to work full time at Kaiser Walnut Creek.

Other volunteer activities: He has worked with the Kaiser Permanente hospice in the Walnut Creek and Martinez areas, both as a paid physician, and on a volunteer basis.

Hometown: Avoca, New York, a very small town (1,000 people) sixty miles south of Rochester. It was a great place in which to develop an interest in music, since there were very few other distractions.

Special Interests: Ross has developed a special liking for vocal music, enjoying the interaction between text and music. The Music Library at UC Berkeley and its resources provide a great source of information and pleasure. Ross enjoys traveling to music festivals and events. In recent years he visited Scarlatti's grave in Naples, and played on Verdi's 1830 piano in Busseto, Italy.

Instruments: Ross plays piano, and recently paid a visit to his former teacher in Livonia, New York to play a piece for her. His cornet resides in the attic, unplayed for many years.

Favorite composer: For long-term consistent enjoyment, his favorite composer is Handel. While he admires and enjoys Bach as well, he believes that there is so much more emotional content to Handel's music.

Favorite composition: Handel's L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato. The combination of great poetry by Milton, a secular nondramatic text, a large musical format traditionally associated with dramatic works, and a universal deeply spiritual (if not strictly religious) message all makes for a wonderful work. If he had to pick just one single piece, he probably would choose "Ombra mai fu" from Serse, the famous "Largo,& quot."