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Titan Spotlight

School of Music Students Collaborate with Bernstein Protégé and Pacific Symphony Conductor Carl St.Clair

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In September, Cal State Fullerton’s University Symphonic Winds welcomed Pacific Symphony Artistic Director and Conductor Carl St.Clair for a two-hour collaboration centered around Leonard Bernstein’s jazz-infused composition, “SLAVA! A Political Overture.” (Slava translates to “glory” in Russian.) The piece celebrates Bernstein’s musical colleague, cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, who is often credited with changing the history of 20th Century cello playing.

St.Clair, a former conducting student of Bernstein, spent time in rehearsal with the University Symphonic Winds as they prepared to perform “SLAVA!” during their October 8 concert. St.Clair offered his insight on the work and shared poignant, powerful stories from his experience with the renowned conductor and composer. At the end of the rehearsal session, Assistant Professor of Music and Conductor of the University Symphonic Winds, Gregory Xavier Whitmore, presented St.Clair with gifts of appreciation from the ensemble – a Cal State Fullerton shirt and mug. St.Clair was so touched by the gifts, he later remarked they were “…a perfect way to remember an incredible afternoon on campus.”

University Symphonic Winds students were excited and inspired by the opportunity to collaborate with one of classical music’s most renowned conductors, and the students left the concert hall with a new artistic perspective on the life and music of Leonard Bernstein. St.Clair had praise for the ensemble’s professionalism and musicality, calling them “disciplined and welcoming” and commended Whitmore for a great concert. “’Slava!’ sounded fantastic! You have created an atmosphere and rich culture for serious music-making and growth,” St.Clair said. “Bravo to you.”

You can hear the University Symphonic Winds with Whitmore conducting, when they perform their latest program “In Spirit” on November 17 at 8 p.m. in Meng Concert Hall. Tickets are $8 (advance purchase) for the Titan community and CSUF students each recieve one complimentary ticket to College of the Arts performances (some exclusions apply).

Heather Richards