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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: Chicago Symphony Orchestra

The Brass Junkies: Tage Larsen of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Andrew Hitz

Listen via


Tage Larsen, 4th/utility trumpet with The Chicago Symphony sat down with me & Lance for a fascinating look at his highly successful (and highly diverse) career.

I played for one season with Tage in the Dallas Brass and can't even begin to describe how much I learned from him. He is such an efficient player and sounds totally fluent in more styles than I can count.

As I shared in the interview, I remember my third day on the job with Dallas Brass when we had been having intensive rehearsals and my chops were toast. I was a very inefficient player at that age because I could get away with it. I vividly remember Tage playing the intro to Mahler 7 about five minutes into his warmup on that third day and it looking as if he was playing a long tone. My face was toast and his tone was still silk. I learned an awful lot in that moment.

Tage spent time in The Marine Band, Dallas Brass and the St. Louis Symphony before his current position and he explores what he likes about playing 4th/utility. We also get into the role of classical music in society and the notion that we should have sincerity in all that we do. Shockingly, he only uses one mouthpiece. That's what he said anyway.


Tage's DePaul School of Music Page

You can help offset the costs of producing the show by making a small donation at Your support is greatly appreciated!

Produced by Austin Boyer of FredBrass

Words of Wisdom from Bud Herseth

Andrew Hitz

"It is not a matter of being better than anyone else. How can you love trying to be better than anyone else? Play for your own satisfaction, and for other's enjoyment."
—Bud Herseth (Former Principal Trumpet - Chicago Symphony Orchestra)

Mr. Herseth was an incredible player and teacher and his above words are incredibly wise.

There is a byproduct of playing for your own satisfaction: You tend to enjoy the process of getting better a whole lot more and therefor do the work. Bottom line: You get better.

Practice something until you love it and then share it with the world. At that point you'll be dying to share it with us and that will shine through in your performance.

Three Tuba Legends Talk About the Influence, Playing & Teaching of Arnold Jacobs

Andrew Hitz

This is awesome!

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has assembled a number of clips of three tuba legends, Rex Martin, Gene Pokorny, and Floyd Cooley, speaking about their mentor, Arnold Jacobs.

The three of them speak about a wide range of topics including:

  • Teaching
  • Vibrato
  • Sound
  • Legacy
  • The CSO Brass Sound

There are a total of 19 short clips about Arnold Jacobs. These are absolutely priceless. A huge thank you to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for publishing these!

You can here them all here.

Words of Wisdom from Bud Herseth

Andrew Hitz

"Never practice. Always perform."

-Bud Herseth

Mr. Herseth of course practiced all the time.  But from all of the stories I've heard, he even played the most rudimentary of exercises as if he were performing for a large audience.

The biggest difference between good players and great players is intensity in the practice room.


Photo by r  egan76  , available under a   Creative Commons Attribution   2.0 Generic License  .    Ravinia, where Bud Herseth performed for millions of people over the course of his career with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Photo by regan76, available under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

Ravinia, where Bud Herseth performed for millions of people over the course of his career with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Larry Combs and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

Larry Combs was the principal clarinetist for the Chicago Symphony for three decades and is considered one of the all-time greats.  He was appointed principal clarinet by Sir Georg Solti in 1978 and stepped down in 2008.

Here he is a recording of him performing Aaron Copland's "Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra" with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Erich Leinsdorf.  This recording is from 1979, his second year in the orchestra.

The two things that jump out at me about his playing are his sound and his dynamic range.  The consistency of both offer me examples to strive for in my own playing.


Chicago Symphony with Leonard Bernstein/Shostakovich 7: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

This is my absolute favorite orchestral recording of all time.  Leonard Bernstein was known as a virtuosic interpreter of a number of composers and Shostakovich was one of them.  This recording of Shostakovich 7 is as fine an example of the great brass tradition of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as exists. There is something about this piece, this orchestra, this conductor. It's just perfect.

This YouTube clip actually has the score of the symphony scrolling by in real time with the music.  If you've never heard this before, I would encourage you to get a pair of headphones, ignore the score, close your eyes, and prepare to be taken on a journey.

I'm pretty sure Bernstein is smiling somewhere every time someone hears this recording for the first time and does a fist pump.


Bud Herseth: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

As I'm sure you all know, we recently lost arguably the greatest orchestral trumpet player of all time, Bud Herseth. I feel so blessed to have attended Northwestern when Bud was still playing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the mid-90's.  His presence as the leader of that orchestra can't be summed up in a blog post. I am so happy I stumbled upon this radio profile and interview from Australian radio in 1997.  The interview is amazing and there are phenomenal clips from many different eras of the CSO's history throughout the piece which feature Mr. Herseth.

Every time I hear a recording of Bud I feel like it is a masterclass on style.  Everything sounds so thought out, so intentional.  His articulations are too clear to believe without actually hearing it yourself.  This radio piece is absolutely must hear for any musician.  You won't believe how much you learn.

Clips Include:

Also Sprach Zarathustra Pictures at an Exhibition Lt. Kijé Mahler 5 William Tell Overture Scheherezade Firebird Pines of Rome


Best Description of Articulation Ever

Andrew Hitz

I've never heard articulation explained as well as Michael Mulcahy did in the Bud Herseth piece that is tomorrow's Monday YouTube Clip:

Arnold Jacobs had a tremendous vitality of attack, tremendous clarity. Not harsh, but more energy at the beginning of the sound than people associate with symphonic musicians.

More energy at the beginning of the sound is what I've been working 29 years to achieve and that is the best wording of it I've ever heard. Thank you Mr. Mulcahy!

Monday YouTube Fix: Mahler 7 - Chicago Symphony with Pierre Boulez (Live)

Andrew Hitz

This is taken from the Great Performances series on PBS so both the audio and the video are top quality.  The Chicago Symphony brass section really leaves me in awe every time I hear them these days. Gene Pokorny is of course one of my heroes and sounds really great as always on this recording.  But it really is the trumpet section that keeps grabbing my attention.  There is not a first trumpet in any orchestra in the world that I am currently more fond of than Chris Martin.  His tone is just unreal! The blend that the entire section gets is truly remarkable.

In fact, I recently wrote about my experience playing with the Chicago Symphony's Tage Larsen while we were both in the Dallas Brass.  The whole brass section sounds amazing and I love me some Mahler!