“A powerful youth movement is invigorating one of Milwaukee’s major league franchises, with young performers playing critical roles,” writes Jim Higgins in Friday’s (2/2) Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “The Milwaukee Symphony is increasingly relying on an influx of millennial musicians. Ten of the orchestra’s 71 musicians are 30 years old or younger; three of those are principals, the section leaders on their instruments. They won their jobs here through competitive blind auditions…. Principal flutist Sonora Slocum joined the orchestra in 2012, when she was 22. Violinist Alex Ayers, a Waukesha native, came on board in 2013. Principal bassist Jon McCullough-Benner and principal bassoonist Catherine Chen both joined in 2017…. The four musicians shared stories of their paths to performing in Milwaukee…. These folks work in the music department, not marketing, but they were willing to share their ideas on how to attract more people their age to performances. Their thoughts boil down to ‘accessible repertoire,’ to use McCullough-Benner’s phrase, and friendly concert experiences. The bassist praised the symphony’s Finale program, which invites concertgoers to join musicians for a beer … after selected shows.” Other topics include the auditioning process, the cost of purchasing an instrument, and strategies for practicing.

Posted February 6, 2018

Pictured: Four of the Milwaukee Symphony’s ten musicians age 30 and younger. From left: Violinist Alex Ayers, Principal Bassoon Catherine Chen, Principal Flute Sonora Slocum, and Principal Bass Jon McCullough-Benner. Photo by Jonathan Kirn