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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: Chester Schmitz

Canadian Brass, Boston Symphony and New York Philharmonic: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

In 1989, the Canadian Brass were joined by the principal players of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic for a series of legendary concerts.

I was lucky enough to see this concert when it came to Tanglewood in July of 1989. It was a day that changed my life.

I had recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts. As a part of becoming an Eagle Scout, you get to spend the day with someone who is working in the field you hope to pursue. Upon receiving the request, Chester Schmitz, the tuba player of the BSO, agreed to let me tag along for a day.

Imagine my elation as a 14-year-old when the day he suggested was the Brass Spectacular concert at Tanglewood that would involve the likes of Phil Smith, Joe Alessi, Chuck Dallenbach, Fred Mills, etc! I can still remember getting the phone call from him. I almost dropped the phone.

He very graciously introduced me to almost every one of the players in this video as if he had known me for years. It really was one of those experiences for a young boy that vaulted me forward with enthusiasm for music.

Chester and I have remained friends to this day. I could never repay him for how kind he was to me that day over 25 years ago.

I didn't know this video existed and am ecstatic to be able to witness this lineup again. This is as good as it gets.


The 5 Tuba Players Who've Influenced Me Most: Chester Schmitz (1 0f 5)

Andrew Hitz

There have been enough tuba players who have inspired and influenced me that to recount them all would fill this blog for a full year. But I have whittled the list down to the five players who have had the biggest impact on me as both a teacher and a performer. There is absolutely no possible way that I could ever rank them in order of importance. Each of these men has had an incredible impact on me as both a musician and as a person. I will simply put the posts in the order in which I was introduced to them. One common thread among all five is that I was introduced to each one of them before the age of 18. I was very fortunate to have my path cross with so many great musical role models at such a very early age. I also owe my parents an incredible amount of gratitude for being so supportive of me and facilitating, both financially and logistically, my contact with these men.


Chester Schmitz

I have simply never heard a better orchestral tuba player than Chester Schmitz. For 35 years he was, for my money, the most consistent orchestral player in the world. Chester was the first person I ever heard play a tuba, either live or recorded. I must admit I don't remember it though. My parents took me to my first Boston Symphony concert when I was two weeks old in the summer of 1975 at Tanglewood. As I mentioned above, my folks made sure that I was exposed to great music from a very early age. But this was not because of any plans they had for me as a musician. My father is simply a huge fan of classical music and my parents have enjoyed attending concerts at Tanglewood for decades.

By the time I had graduated from high school, I had the privilege of attending about 200 BSO concerts both in Boston and at Tanglewood. There was not a single instance of me going to hear that orchestra and being disappointed by Chester's playing. Not once. And for almost all of them I was hanging on his every note.

The thing that amazed me about his playing is that it always seemed just right. The loud and bombastic parts were just that but never even a little bit too much. He could also make more music with a two note phrase in Brahms 2 than most musicians I've encountered could with a full melody. I got to hear him perform so many different programs with the symphony that I ended up getting a rather full education on the huge orchestral repertoire of the tuba.

I will also never forget the kindness that he showed me each and every time I snuck backstage to say hello.  There were countless times that I would elude security and make my way to his locker.  He made time for me in every instance without exception and never seemed in a hurry to be somewhere else.  That left quite an impression on me as a young man.

For hearing tuba for the first time ever, you can do a lot worse than having it played by Chester Schmitz.