The Musicians Play On…Sam Descoteaux

Meet Sam Descoteaux, a member of our low brass section.

I play the Bass Trombone. I started playing when I was 15 years old in a CYO church band located in Wakefield, MA. I started playing in the CVSO in 2014.

I’ve spent much of this time at home cycling, kayaking, and doing small engine repairs. I’ve been enjoying listening to Shostakovich and Stravinsky works.

My favorite piece during COVID-19 to lift my spirits is the Shostakovich Violin Concerto #1 in A minor. During this period I have been practicing Ewazen’s Triple Concerto for Three Trombones and Debussy’s Trois Chansons for Four Trombones.

The Musicians Play On…Stephanie Buggie

Meet Stephanie Buggie, the orchestra’s newest member!

I play bassoon in the orchestra as well as a few other instruments outside the orchestra, such as flute and guitar.

I started playing bassoon when I was 9 at Park Avenue Elementary School in Danbury, CT, because no one else was playing it. The bassoon was larger than the oboe, which was the other instrument that no one else was playing, so I decided to go for the larger one. We had to look them both up in our dictionary, way before Google existed!! In-between then and now, I had one large hiatus of 17 years which ended about 6 years ago.

I started playing in the CVSO one month prior to the COVID lock-down!!

I’ve spent much of my free time at home praying, meditating, contemplating questions of existence & the purpose of living, prioritizing life activities, eating, sleeping, walking the dog & cooking for my family when I haven’t been trying to reach students as a part of my role as an ESL teacher at Eli Whitney Tech High School in Hamden. Most recently, bike-riding and at last, swimming at LA Fitness!!

I’ve been enjoying listening to Ottmar Liebert, the guitarist, in my car.

My favorite piece during COVID 19 to lift my spirits is anything composed by the enlightened master, Bach.

During this COVID 19 period, I have been practicing my new upright Kawai piano that I purchased at ReStore in Wallingford a few weeks ago. I love the Classical literature, such as Clementi and Kuhlau.

One technique I’ve been working on is expressiveness within my phrasing, which is very challenging on a keyboard, because you’re just pressing down keys, so the expressiveness is found when you vary the dynamics within the melody, or “in-between the notes,” if that’s possible. 

The Musicians Play On…Erika Compton

I began to study the cello in elementary school in the Newington (CT) public school music program. When I was a junior in high school, my family moved to Pittsburgh. There I became a student of the principal cellist of the Pittsburgh Symphony, Michael Grebanier. Shortly after that I became principal cell of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony. 

I gained my conservatory training at the Cleveland Institute of Music. There I studied the solo repertoire with Alan Harris, a distinguished professor of cello. I studied the orchestral repertoire with the principal cellist of the Cleveland Orchestra, Stephen Geber. During the summer months I participated in the Aspen Music Festival and worked as a free-lance cellist in Cleveland.

In 1982 I won the position of principal cello of the Charleston (SC) Symphony Orchestra. During my years in Charleston, I performed as soloist with both the Charleston and Florence Symphonies, and I co-founded the Charleston Symphony String Quartet, which hosted its own concert series at the College of Charleston. I also performed regularly as assistant principal cellist with the Savanah Symphony, and for two seasons I performed as a principal cellist in the Spoleto Festival, and as a section cellist in the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra.

In addition to enjoying teaching private lessons at home, I taught cello at The College of Charleston, and I was on the faculty of Symphony School of America. My love of teaching has never left me, and I would like to begin offering private lessons to aspiring  cellists.

I am delighted to have joined the CVSO in 2015, and I am truly looking forward to making music again, and in person, with the members of the CVSO.

I have been lucky enough to have a job that was not affected the Covid-19 pandemic, so I have never left the workplace. I have been spending a lot of time practicing and was motivated to learn all of the movements of the Bach Six Suites that I not learned in school…so far I’ve checked only three off of my list, but it’s a long summer! The piece I have enjoyed most during the shut-down is the piece that inspired me to tackle the balance of the Cello Suites – the Prelude to the Third Bach Cello Suite. I hope you enjoy listening to it here.

The Musicians Play On…Leah Nollenberger

Leah Nollenberger plays in the first violin section and is the orchestra’s secretary.

I play the violin. I started playing in third grade when I was 8 as part of my elementary school’s music program. I started playing with the CVSO in April 2016 when I moved to the Hartford area.

I’ve spent much of this time at home working. My office closed in mid-March and is only just starting to re-open now, in mid-June. I’ve been doing lots of walking and hiking with my dog while I’ve been home, and she will be very disappointed when I’m back in the office full time!

I always have music on at home. My music tastes are varied, from alternative rock to musical soundtracks to classical. I love listening to podcasts when I’m out for a walk. Vitamin String Quartet is another favorite.

I have finally started practicing my violin again. I’m going back to basics, and also plan on revisiting some pieces I’ve played in the past like Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole and the Saint-Saëns Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso. I’m trying to keep my fingers and brain ready to get back to playing with the CVSO!

The Musicians Play On…Brandon Halberg

Brandon Halberg is the CVSO’s apprentice conductor.

I play the clarinet. I started playing when I was in 4th grade. I just graduated from UConn with my Bachelors of Music Education, and I will be going to Binghamton University next fall for my Masters of Orchestral Conducting.

I started conducting with the CVSO last season as an apprentice conductor. It was the first year they created the position, and it was an incredible experience to work alongside Paul and the orchestra. Everyone was so supportive and helpful, and I gained a lot of confidence and experience as a young conductor!

I’ve spent much of this time at home studying scores and watching netflix! I finally returned back to work last weekend. I have been working as a golf caddie for the past 4 years at Bulls Bridge Golf Club.

My favorite piece during COVID 19 to lift my spirits is Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony. It’s one of my favorite works in the orchestral repertoire, and I’ve recently started to dig into the score. I’ve also been re-listening to Kenneth Fuch’s album “Spiritualist.”

During this COVID 19 period I have been working on a few scores for next year including: Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, Overture to Die Fledermaus by Strauss, Tchaikovsky’s 4th, 5th, and 6th Symphonies, and Dvorak’s 9th Symphony.