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Performing with the St. Louis Symphony

By Sister Gail Buckman
Sister Gail Buckman playing at St. Louis Symphony

In August 2022, the St. Louis Symphony invited educators from around the country to perform with them October 7, 2022. The St. Louis Symphony is the only symphony in the country that offers such an opportunity. I was a bit apprehensive, and yet excited to imagine the opportunity to play clarinet with the Symphony, and immediately responded to the email submitting my name as a participant.

The program was “Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity” from the PLANETS by Gustav Holst; “Largo” from Symphony No. 9 in E minor, op. 95 “from THE NEW WORLD” by Antonin Dvorak; selections from PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION, “The Hut on Fowl’s Legs, and the Great Gate of Kiev,” with an encore of “The Mambo” from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein. Since there were so many educators, each of us was given one piece to play on stage with the Symphony, plus the encore. The music was symphony level, and quite a stretch in difficulty from the middle school music that I am used to teaching. I performed on the “Largo” and the “Mambo.” Even though the music was quite challenging, it was so rewarding to practice and know that I would be performing it with the St. Louis Symphony.

St. Louis Symphony, view from a performers perspective.

October 7 was declared Educators’ Night at the Symphony and entitled “Extra Credit on Stage at Powell Hall.” There were over 100 teachers representing 64 school districts and eight states for this special concert. It was a packed house of families, students and friends of those of us on stage. Norman Huynh was the guest conductor. He is the Music Director of the Bozeman Symphony Orchestra. All the performers met at Powell Hall three hours prior to the concert, and each of the pieces was rehearsed for 30 minutes with the performers of that piece, and 30 minutes for the run through of the encore piece with everyone. That was it, and then it was “show time.”

It was a fabulous experience and one that I would certainly do again, if given the opportunity. My life revolves around music students in grades fourth through eighth, those just at the beginning stages of their musical careers or avocations. Performing that night with those who love music as I do and have made a career of it, reenergized me to go back into the classroom with my own students and continue to instill that love of music in them.


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