Postcard Thursday

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Piccolo and flute player for the St. Louis Symphony, Ann Choomack has some very cool parts to play this season, including in just about anything by Prokofiev. This season is a mini-Prokofiev greatest hits: Cinderella, Symphony No. 3 and the “Classical” Symphony, Peter and the Wolf and Romeo and Juliet, with Choomack’s piccolo putting its own signature on each performance.

Choomack is also an avid bicyclist and has toured much of the world on two wheels. She was slowed down recently after she “flew over the handlebars,” she told me, and cracked her collarbone.

Ann Choomack at Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Ann Choomack at Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina, resting before her pretty solos.

She writes: “Summer music camp at Eastern Music Festival has been fun. Even playing Mahler 2 with a broken collarbone is a good challenge. I get to play the pretty solos while my awesome trusty assistant, Gabe Fridkis, plays the entire rest of the part. It’s such a gift to be able to relax and take in such amazing music while the other flutes work so hard [Choomack placed a smiley face here]! I hope I heal in time for my trek in Peru in a few weeks.”

Next Postcard Thursday: trombonist Jonathan Reycraft.

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.