Catching up… again!

at Realgrey

‘Bring Your Song’ at Realgrey Records

It has been way too long since I last posted. And as expected, so much has happened that I don’t know where to start. Just to name a few things since my last post, I started marching band, I got 3rd chair in my school’s top concert band, I became part of the Canton Youth Symphony Advanced Orchestra, I started taking trombone lessons with Dr. James Albrecht, and I got to perform as the 1st chair trombonist in the OBDC (Ohio Band Directors Conference) Honor Band at The University of Akron. This year has probably been the most eventful year of my life so far. I have written most of a number of blog posts, but I never had a chance to finish and post them because I’ve been so busy. I also unfortunately have not even been able to attend some of the Canton Symphony concerts so far this season due to conflicts. My sister Maggie has gone to them instead, and even took notes to help write blog posts, but also never got around to posting. I have gone to some of the rehearsals though, and taken notes, but that isn’t what I am going to write about today. I want to focus more on updating you on what I have done in the past year, in more detail than just listing things off.

Taking notes at a Canton Symphony rehearsal for one of those posts I never finished. Principal Trumpet Scott Johnston invited me to sit next to him. He’s awesome.
CSO rehearsal

Sitting on stage again at a different CSO rehearsal. I love watching Maestro Zimmermann work.

So first I am going to talk about marching band, and an awesome friend I made. If you have ever been in marching band, you know that we have squads within sections. And there is always a squad leader and a right guide. My squad leader was senior Jacob Prokop, and I couldn’t have asked for anybody better. He is an excellent trombonist, and an amazing musician. He is part of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, which is outstanding. My dad and I went to see them perform at Severance Hall. They are amazing. Jacob has also gone to Interlochen. I really look up to him, and I am very grateful for his kindness in helping me improve as a trombonist, and for putting up with my endless stream of questions. He is the reason that I wanted to improve so much on trombone and join the Canton Youth Symphony. So I asked my band director Mr. Kibler if I could borrow an f-attachment trombone from the school, and he so kindly said yes. I took it home and started working on my audition music.

In front of Zimmermann Symphony Center after my audition, and outside Lake Performing Arts Hall before our first CYSAO concert:
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The audition went well and I got 2nd chair, although I got to play first chair in our first concert because the 1st-chair trombonist wasn’t able to start until marching band was over. My friend Derek from school also joined. So the three of us have a lot of fun playing in the orchestra. I did get my own trombone right after my audition, so I took the school’s back. In our first concert, we performed Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2. In our upcoming concert, we are going to be playing parts from both of Bizet’s Carmen Suites and Danzon No. 2 by Márquez alongside the Canton Symphony Orchestra members! So that is going to be really fun, and an amazing experience. It’s already been awesome getting to work with the Canton Symphony’s principal trombonist, Tom Pylinski. He’s an amazing musician and a super nice guy, too. I can’t believe I’m going to get to play right alongside him and the rest of the Canton Symphony.

 Jacob, Derek, & me in the Blue Streak News for COYO & CYSAO:

Next, I want to talk about my lessons with Dr. Albrecht, the trombone professor at the University of Akron, and playing in the OBDC Honor Band. I started taking lessons with Dr. Albrecht also because of Jacob, as he is Jacob’s teacher as well. He is a really good teacher and an amazing musician, and I am blessed to be able to take lessons with him. I’m also of course still taking piano lessons (and guitar lessons, too) with Matt Riddle, so along with my tennis lessons, they’re part of why I’ve been so busy.

I played my guitar while I walked my sisters around for trick ‘r treat. That was a blast.

During the summer, our band directors handed out forms about the Honor Band to people they thought should do it. Dr. Albrecht told my dad that I should audition for it. Mr. Kibler gave me permission to audition, and I was accepted. Here’s the recording I made for the audition. Then we had to audition again for chair placement when we got to the university for the OBDC conference. I got first chair, which was a pleasant surprise (since I’m a freshman and the other trombonists were a senior, a junior and a sophomore), and it really motivated me.

Here’s the photo I texted my dad to let him know I’d gotten 1st chair:

We were directed by Lt. Gregory Fritz, who directs one of the US Navy bands. We played a lot of great music, but my favorite out of all of them was Festivity by James Curnow. He is a very well-known band composer. But the most awesome thing was, he conducted us on that piece, and it was a really cool experience to work under him. Someone took a video of the whole concert, and you can even hear a short solo I had starting at around 10:50.  It was such an amazing opportunity, and I’ll never forget it.

Now about another amazing experience I’ve had. As you know, I have a passion for writing my own music, and I enjoy playing what I write for other musicians when I get the chance. There is this awesome thing called “Bring Your Song” hosted at a really nice recording studio in Canton called Realgrey Records. You just show up with an instrument, and when you feel like it, go up and perform, and fellow musicians give you feedback and their thoughts and opinions on what you’re working on. They only get together on the first Monday of every month. It is a really fun thing to do, and it is a great time to socialize and connect with other local musicians. I have heard all kinds of things like rap, pop, country, rock, pop-rock, country-rock, jazz, blues, and even some just acapella. I usually just play some of my jazz ideas and chord progressions I put together to improvise on top of. Here’s a recording of me playing there last July (photo is at the top of this post). But the first time I went, I played my 7th grade talent show piece (here’s the actual recording of it). The only reason I knew about it was because of John Yany (my youth pastor and worship team leader). He is a really awesome guy, and a great musical and spiritual inspiration. He is also an outstanding guitarist and a great pianist. I am really happy that God has brought him into my life.

While playing in our church praise band, I’ve even gotten to play with members of the Canton Symphony for Christmas and Easter services:

Another thing I want to mention, I have gone to (and am going to see) some pretty awesome concerts. In October, my mom and I went to Pittsburgh to see Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits. That concert was amazing and I really enjoyed it. My dad and I have also gone to an awesome jazz club in Akron called BLU Jazz+ where I saw the Huntertones and the Sam Blakeslee Large Group (a big band), and they were both phenomenal. The Huntertones also came to our school and worked with us in the jazz band, which was awesome. Coming up in April, I am going to Chicago with my mom and dad to see David Gilmour from Pink Floyd! It is going to be extremely fun! Since we only got two tickets, my mom and I are going to see him while my dad goes to see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra directed by the one and only Riccardo Muti. I am really looking forward to that. Also in April, the Canton Youth Symphony Advanced Orchestra is traveling to Columbus to play with the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra. That is going to amazing as well.

Sam Blakeslee Large Group & the Huntertones at BLU Jazz+
Blakeslee LG  HtonesBLU2

Well I have so much more I want to talk about, like especially the Canton Symphony concerts, but unfortunately that will have to wait until next time. I hope that will be soon!

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