“My proudest moments with the DCCO have included performances not only of Brahms, but of Howard Hanson, Aaron Copland, and George Gershwin.”
Randall Stewart, DCCO Music Director, DCCM Artistic Advisor, Trombone and Voice
DIRECTOR OF BANDS AT GUNSTON MIDDLE SCHOOL, ARLINGTON, VA
FROM CHARLESTON, WV
How did you come to be the Music Director of DCCO? Describe a little about your role.
In December of 2013, my friend Rob Goeke contacted me about an orchestra he had started that needed a new music director. Rob had left a year earlier to re-enlist in the Army as a band musician playing tuba. Our Executive Director, Bob Myers, invited me to a rehearsal. It was cold! One of our now-retired members, Joe Rosen, was leading a rehearsal of Schubert’s Sixth Symphony in a church hall where the heating had broken! I knew that with a group this dedicated, they could go places! Six years later, we have grown from a small 30-member chamber orchestra to a full orchestra with over 80 regular members.
As Music Director, I plan repertoire, conduct auditions, and manage the overall artistic trajectory of the DCCO. I conduct all our concerts and oversee our apprentice conductors from the Catholic University of America’s M.Mus. program, who also conduct the orchestra from time to time. For DCCM, I vet and coach ensembles to prepare them for our concerts.
What type or examples of music do you really enjoy conducting and why?
My favorite repertoire begins with the Classical vein that runs from Haydn through Brahms, but is not limited to that. I have a penchant for the music of Debussy and Stravinsky, and have specialized in American works. My proudest moments with the DCCO have included performances not only of Brahms, but of Howard Hanson, Aaron Copland, and George Gershwin.
“ I knew that with a group this dedicated, they could go places!”
You play trombone and sing – tell us more about your musical background.
My first musical experiences were in Baptist church choirs in West Virginia, with a range of music that ran from “classics” like Wilhousky’s arrangement of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, to more contemporary choral-church pops works. In the 5th grade my parents and grandmother encouraged me to begin a band instrument; I chose the trombone because it looked easier than pressing keys! My first real mentor was my high school band director, and I attended a small liberal arts college in West Virginia that was affiliated with my church that he had attended. The turning points of my career hinged on singing Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and playing in the school’s symphonic brass choir, which gave me the opportunity to conduct at the National Cathedral. I initially was a Music Education major but added conducting after my first semester of grad school, and the rest is history.
What is your day job?
DCCO is a day job, if I do say so myself! 🙂 Having said that, I am the Director of Bands at Gunston Middle School in Arlington, where I teach 150 students across four bands, as well as a guitar class. Middle school is a time where we can see enormous musical growth in students, and it is a lot of fun to help them grow from beginners to budding musicians!
What are some of your “dream works” that you would like to conduct with DCCO?
There are too many! Let’s start with Brahms’ symphonies and concerti, Stravinsky and Copland’s ballets, and the complete works of Claude Debussy.