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.

Break Breath Decay Coffee

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Members of the St. Louis Symphony trumpet section, Karin Bliznik, Mike Walk and Carrie Schafer, are giving a master class at the International Trumpet Guild Conference in Columbus, Ohio on Friday morning. That means they hit the road Thursday and get right back on it after the master class for Opera Theatre pit duties Friday night. All part of the glamorous life of the orchestral musician.

Left to right: Mike Walk, Carrie Schafer and Karin Bliznik
Left to right: Mike Walk, Carrie Schafer and Karin Bliznik

Karin invited me to sit with the trio on stage and take a few photos as they prepared. They told me that they are the only current orchestra section featured at the conference, “Which is a big deal for us,” Karin said. They are playing excerpts from music they’ve performed this season, as well as some pieces for next season. The Symphony trumpets received the invitation last summer, with the St. Louis Symphony, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and the musicians themselves supporting the activity–they’re giving the master class for free. All three have attended a conference master class earlier in their careers. “It’s exciting,” Carrie said. “Lots of ideas fly around.”

Karin makes her point about the sound of a note.
Karin makes her point about the sound of a note.

On the Powell stage they played some John Williams, some Strauss. Karin emphasized the “slight decay” that needed to be heard in one note. They talked about the need to define the differences between “break” and “breath.” (A break is to allow for more sounds to come out; a breath is to allow for the body to make more sounds.) They talked about lots of coffee over the next couple days.

Playing in unison.
Playing in unison.

Third Trumpet

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Mike Walk provides insights in the workings of the Third Trumpet in Sibelius’ Symphony No. 1, part of the Mendelssohn Violin weekend at Powell Hall.