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

 

Say Yes

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My gala experience began by photographing Lang Lang’s conversation with the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. External Affairs VP Adam Crane served as moderator at the theater in the new KDHX studios a block from Powell. The YO musicians were a rapt audience, with Lang Lang talking about his career–when an orchestra calls and asks if you can play a certain concerto, the answer is always yes, at least in the early years–and the importance of being an ambassador of the art form. He also talked about performing with the Gangnam Style guy.

Lang Lang and Adam Crane with Youth Orchestra
Lang Lang and Adam Crane with Youth Orchestra

In the evening was the big show, with dinner before and dancing after. Symphony Principal Flute Mark Sparks played some revelatory Bach, and Lang Lang did his phenomenal thing.

I must say of the entire organization, we did well. And when it was time to let loose, we partied like it was 1999.