Postcard Thursday

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Jeffrey Strong of the St. Louis Symphony trumpet section takes us on a hiking trip in California mountain country.

Jeff, Maggie & Archer
Jeff, Maggie & Archer

“My wife Maggie and I took a 20-day road trip with our dog, Archer, to California this summer and spent about a week hiking in Mammoth Lakes. We had stops in Santa Fe, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and Denver. It was great to see so much of our beautiful country, and we met some great people along the way.

Jeff with mountain beard
Jeff with mountain beard & Archer
Archer
Archer
By the lake
Maggie by the lake
Maggie by a creek
Maggie & Archer by a high-mountain creek

“I’m currently spending my time training for the upcoming MO Cowbell Half Marathon, which takes place in St. Charles, and getting my music ready for the orchestra season to come.

Shoes in training for MO Marathon
Shoes in training for MO Half Marathon

“We are playing a lot of Beethoven this year, so I’ve been re-reading Lockwood’s books,¬†Beethoven Symphonies: An Artistic Vision and Beethoven: The Music and the Life. I include a picture of our new kitten, Tiger, checking out the September repertoire on my white board.

Tiger checks Jeff's practice scheudle
Tiger checks Jeff’s music schedule

“I’m very excited for this season, especially the September¬†23 concert when Karin Bliznik and I get to play Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Trumpets in C major. This season should be a blast! (Pun definitely intended.)”

Next Postcard Thursday: violist Chris Tantillo.

399th Army Band

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The St. Louis Symphony was proud and honored to host the 399th Army Band from Ft. Leonard Wood on Friday. A group of 40+ soldiers arrived for an open rehearsal of the Music You Know: Storytelling concert, so were treated to David Robertson taking the orchestra through Bernstein’s Candide Overture,¬† Vitali’s Chaconne in G minor with STL Symphony violinist Celeste Golden Boyer, Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries and other popular works.

Before the show a group met with flutist Jennifer Nitchman, who is a veteran of the U.S. Army Field Band. She told them she was more the Private Benjamin type of soldier, a cultural reference that was lost on them. Maybe it streams on Netflix.

After the rehearsal there was lunch from Pappy’s, and then master class with the Symphony’s Will James, percussion, Ann Choomack, flute, and Jeffrey Strong, trumpet, making use of the stage at KDHX and a practice room at Jazz at the Bistro.

Director of Community Programs Maureen Byrne put it all together. Here are some pics.

399th Army Band
399th Army Band
STL Symphony flutist Jennifer Nitchman meets members of 399th.
STL Symphony flutist Jennifer Nitchman meets members of 399th.
STL Symphony Associate Principal Horn Thomas Jostlein meets a former student, Jeff Spenner. Spenner told me he drives from Ft. Leonard Wood to Powell Hall almost every weekend for a Symphony concert.
STL Symphony Associate Principal Horn Thomas Jostlein meets a former student, Jeff Spenner. Spenner told me he drives from Ft. Leonard Wood to Powell Hall almost every weekend for a Symphony concert.
In the foyer
In the foyer
Soldiers arrive for lunch and master class at the Stage @ KDHX.
Soldiers arrive for lunch and master class at the Stage @ KDHX.
Jazz on the stage
Jazz on the stage
Band members listen to colleagues.
Band members listen to colleagues.
STL Symphony trumpet player Jeffrey Strong gives some instruction.
STL Symphony trumpet player Jeffrey Strong gives some instruction.
Jeffrey Strong and STL Symphony piccolo player Ann Choomack with members of the 399th.
Jeffrey Strong and STL Symphony piccolo player Ann Choomack with members of the 399th.
Principal Percussion Will James talks with 399th drummers.
Principal Percussion Will James talks with 399th drummers.
Hats and sticks
Hats and sticks

 

A Trip to Affton

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Members of the St. Louis Symphony brass made a visit to Bayless School in Affton, Missouri, to sit in with young musicians and to play a concert. Video intern Nicola Muscroft and Symphony staff member Zach Schimpf made the trip down with Director of Community Programs Maureen Byrne and the Symphony musicians. Nicola created this mini-documentary out of the experience. The musicians are Principal Trumpet Karin Bliznik, Associate Principal Trombone Amanda Stewart, Julie Thayer on horn, Jeffrey Strong on trumpet, and Gerry Pagano on bass trombone.

Awesomeness

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The Symphony’s performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 was an awesome experience last weekend. Awesome in the true meaning of the word–to inspire awe, and, if you go further down the list of meanings, to inspire fear. There is a power both fierce and fearsome in the presence of such art. For some of us, it’s why we keep returning to it

It is somewhat hard to imagine that the musicians making such art are just getting on with their lives like everyone else. During the present St. Louis Symphony baby boom there are infants to be comforted, fed and changed. There are the everyday challenges large and small, plus social media to keep tabs with. Somehow, amidst all that, the Ravel shimmers, Vivier’s Lonely Child delivers a melancholy lullaby, and Mahler’s heaven bursts forth.

But the musicians aren’t just at home practicing one weekend’s concert. There is the next weekend and the one after that. And there are the Community and Education programs the musicians take part in, bringing more intimate forms of awe to smaller venues.

For example, the St. Louis Symphony & St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra side-by-side rehearsal, in which the two best orchestras in the region join for one big rehearsal. David Robertson conducting. The YO musicians sit right next to their heroes and make music with them:

David Robertson conducts the side-by-side rehearsal.
David Robertson conducts the side-by-side rehearsal.
Side-by-side rehearsal
Side-by-side rehearsal

Cortango Orquesta and Principal Harp Allegra Lilly played a Symphony Where You Worship concert at Second Presbyterian Church.

Principal Harp Allegra Lilly gives a tour of the strings.
Principal Harp Allegra Lilly gives a tour of the strings.

The Creative Music Making concert combined St. Louis Arc, the Maryville University Music Therapy program, musicians from the St. Louis Symphony and more than 30 volunteer entertainers from the St. Louis Arc community.

St. Louis trumpet player Jeffrey Strong proudly wears his Community Music Making T-shirt.
St. Louis trumpet player Jeffrey Strong proudly wears his Community Music Making T-shirt.

And musicians gave master classes and a concert at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

Principal Horn Roger Kaza gives instruction that brings smiles at SIUE.
Principal Horn Roger Kaza gives instruction that brings smiles at SIUE.

In a word: awesome.

Before Mahler, During Mahler

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During the rehearsal break for Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 I strolled the stage and took notice of the elegant device holding a double bass together:

Bass bungee
Bass bungee

I also saw David Halen’s violin set on a table with Vivaldi music near his chair:

Table and violin
Table, Vivaldi, and violin

And before the Mahler 4 began, on Wednesday members of the St. Louis Symphony brass visited Brittany Woods Middle School. Even with a David Robertson program to practice this week, the brass took time out to share some musical knowledge with young people:

Left to right: Lucy Mosier, Orchestra Director @ University City High; Gerard Pagano, bass trombone; Amanda Stewart, Associate Principal Trombone; Jeffrey Stone, trumpet; Roger Kaza, Principal Horn; Karin Bliznik, Principal Trumpet; Rob Giles, Band Director @ Brittany Woods Middle School
Left to right: Lucy Mosier, Orchestra Director @ University City High; Gerard Pagano, bass trombone; Amanda Stewart, Associate Principal Trombone; Jeffrey Strong, trumpet; Roger Kaza, Principal Horn; Karin Bliznik, Principal Trumpet; Rob Giles, Band Director @ Brittany Woods Middle School

New Trumpet, New Symphony

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Jeffrey Strong joined the St. Louis Symphony trumpet section in September. This week he plays a Prokofiev symphony that is new to him and new to the orchestra. He talks about the intense Symphony No. 3 in the video blog.

Trumpet Call

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Associate Principal Trumpet Tom Drake, in answer to a request for his “hot picks” for 1516, informed me that this a very “trumpet interesting” season coming up at Powell Hall. He suggested I poll the trumpet section. So I did.

Karin Bliznik opens Mahler's Symphony No. 5 with her trumpet solo, a highlight of this "trumpet interesting" season.
Karin Bliznik opens Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 with her trumpet solo, a highlight of this “trumpet interesting” season.

1) Mahler 5. Unanimous. (Principal Karin Bliznik, Associate Tom Drake, Jeffrey Strong, who joins the section in 1516, and Mike Walk). The Symphony opens with Bliznik playing a transcendent solo.

2-Tie) Richard Strauss’ Don Quixote. Flutter-tonguing may enter your vocabulary.

2-Tie) The Planets. Jupiter the Bringer of Jollity. Sweet trumpet dreams were made of these.

Other top picks among the section: Selections from Prokofiev’s Cinderella & Romeo & Juliet, and his Symphony No. 3; Selections from Wagner’s Parsifal; Gershwin’s An American in Paris; Messiaen’s From the Canyons to the Stars; Mahler 4; and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, orchestrated by Ravel.