- Odd News
By Daily Mail Reporter
PUBLISHED: 08:19 EST, 1 March 2013 | UPDATED: 08:23 EST, 1 March 2013
The lead oboist of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra died on Thursday morning after he collapsed onstage during a weekend performance at the Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco.
William Bennett, 56, was in the middle of a Richard Strauss' Oboe Concerto on Saturday when he fell from his chair in front of a packed audience and lay unconscious for 20 minutes before the paramedics arrived.
The musician, who had been treated for tonsil cancer in 2004, suffered a brain hemorrhage.
Collapse: William Bennett, the San Francisco Symphony's principal oboist, had a cerebral hemorrhage on Saturday night while playing in front of a packed orchestra
'I am heartbroken by the tragic death of Bill Bennett, which has left a terrible, sad emptiness in the hearts of the whole San Francisco Symphony family,' Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas said in a statement.
'Bill was a great artist, an original thinker, and a wonderful man. I am saddened to have lost such a true friend.'
According to accounts of the incident on Saturday, Mr Bennett reportedly held his oboe above his head long enough for a violinist to grab it, according to the SF Gate.
A doctor who was sitting in the front row, jumped on stage to help the musician until paramedics arrived, according to the Arts Journal.
There was a longer than scheduled intermission but the orchestra completed its evening's performance.
Mr Bennett had previously undergone radiation and chemotherapy treatments for cancer but was given the all clear and returned to performing in 2005.
The classically-trained musician had studied oboe at Yale and the Juilliard School. He joined the San Francisco symphony in 1979 and served as the principal oboist since 1987.
He is survived by his wife Peggy and two sons Daniel and Michael.
Star: The oboist (pictured right) joined the San Francisco symphony in 1979 and has been lead chair since 1987
The show must go on: The musician collapsed on Saturday evening during a Strauss performance at Davies Symphony Hall but the orchestra completed the concert following an extended intermission