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.

The Musicians Play On…Kevin Kinsall

I come from a somewhat musical family. While my mother didn’t play an instrument other than the radio, my father played bass, trumpet, and sang in a four-piece band that played private parties, events, weddings, and the such. I began to play piano at an early age but, like so many kids, soon lost interest. I really wanted to play the guitar but the only instrument that was in the closet was my father’s trumpet, which I then proceeded to use to make all kinds of noise. I played all through elementary, junior high school, and high school. I went to the University of Connecticut for Music Education and earned my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Music Education.

I began my tenure with the CVSO in 2013, and since then have had an amazing time playing with wonderful people of all walks of life. The CVSO has grown tremendously over the past several years that I have occupied the second trumpet position. My personal highlights have been the performances of Mahler’s Symphony #1, Shostakovich’s Symphony #5, Mendelsohn’s Violin Concerto, and the Tyberg’s Symphony #3. It’s these kinds of performance experiences that I miss most now that the world is pretty much shut down.

During our COVID-19 quarantine, my family and I have spent a lot of time together. One of my sons said to my wonderful wife, “Dad is really cool!” That made me laugh. As an elementary music teacher, my days have been littered with posting lessons online, attending department and team meetings, helping to teach my 8, 6, and 4 year-old sons. (Yes, I’ve heard the “My Three Sons” theme song in my head many times.) I’ve also had the chance to clear 20 trees from my yard and rebuild my deck. (You look for things to do when you have three young sons running around the house.)

Besides working with power tools and chainsaws, I’ve had the opportunity to practice my trumpet and take my playing to the next level. Like so many other things in life, nothing helps progress than consistent practice. I’ve been concentrating on efficient playing. I’ve been working on the Haydn trumpet concerto, Charlier trumpet etudes, Wurm trumpet etudes, Bai Lin lip flexibilities, Ray Mase 10-week trumpet routine, Bordogni vocalises, and the top trumpet orchestral excerpts. Here’s my Practice Tip: practice slowly. Take each passage you are practicing at half tempo. Spend 80% of your time on slow practice and 20% of your time “at tempo.” I learned this from Dr. Louis Hanzlik and Itzhak Perlman.

Over the past thirty-one years of being a music teacher I’ve had the opportunity to compose and arrange music for brass ensemble and steel drum band. I am currently working on a Brass and Percussion Ensemble “Fanfare”, a great arrangement of “The Girl from Ipanema” for Brass Ensemble and rhythm section, and a killer arrangement of “Birdland” for Brass Ensemble and rhythm section. Maybe the pieces will be performed one of these days.

Some of you may be wondering, “What kinds of music does he listen to-classical?” Well yes, I do listen to classical. Classical music organizes my brain. But, I have a real fondness for Country, Jimmy Buffet, and most recently Classic Rock and ‘80’s music.

To wrap up, even though I miss teaching my students in person and doing my normal routines, the COVID-19 quarantine has brought on a few pleasant things such as a natural circadian sleep pattern, COVID-haircuts, and connecting with my family. I’ll look back on this time as some of the best family time ever.