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“A shattered-mirror insight into the bizarre world of hitting things with sticks.





Patti Niemi has been a member of the percussion section of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra since 1992. Prior to joining the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Patti was a member of the New World Symphony from 1988-1992, under music director Michael Tilson Thomas. She recently recorded chamber music for composer Howard Hersh, including the premiere of "Night for Clarinet and Marimba" with opera colleague Jose Gonzalez Granero. Patti earned a Bachelor of Music degree from The Juilliard School in 1987. Her two favorite things to do are play music and write, so naturally, writing about music is also high on the list. Her first book, a memoir entitled Sticking It Out, is available in the San Francisco Opera Gift Shop, and here.


By turns reflective and dramatic, poignant and hilarious, Sticking It Out offers an irresistible portrait of the artist as a young percussionist. In deft and swiftly drawn narrative strokes, Patti Niemi charts the formation of a career in music — the endless hours in the practice room, the stomach-churning anxiety of auditions, the blend of competitiveness and camaraderie that shapes relations among up-and-coming musicians — and she does it with wit and personality to burn. She’s as adept at writing as she is at standing in a corner and banging on things.

Joshua Kosman,


Patti Niemi’s oft-hilarious memoir shatters images of percussionists as fearless aggressors who drive and pound their way through life. Instead, it presents the image of an emerging artist pounded by fear and insecurity.

As she tells her tale with disarming candor, Niemi opens the door on the mental and artistic challenges facing all aspiring classical musicians in an era of shrinking avenues for professional practice. After she takes us through the wringer, as it were, she enables us to breathe a huge sigh of relief, if not make a joyful racket, as she lands her gig with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. Brava!

Jason Victor Serinus,


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