Blithe Spirit

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I asked St. Louis Symphony piccolo player Ann Choomack about the level of piccolo anxiety that Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 8 induces in her. The whole Symphony No. 8 is a music of extremes, but the dual piccolos (the other played by Associate Principal Flute Andrea Kaplan) are especially noticeable since they play high above the other instruments cries and shouts, shrieks and murmurs. The piccolos are definitely heard. They are exposed.

Left to right: Ann Choomack and Andrea Kaplan are done with their day of Shostakovich piccolo duties.
Left to right: Ann Choomack and Andrea Kaplan are done with their day of Shostakovich piccolo duties.

Choomack was remarkably blithe about her role in the Eighth. “The solos really aren’t that difficult,” she told me at a break in Wednesday morning rehearsal. “Other Shostakovich symphonies are much harder. The tutti, however,” when she and Kaplan play in unison, “is another story. It is all so high.” Just then, Kaplan let out one of those high high notes. “Like that,” Choomack laughed.