January 4, 2016
Meet Michael Gast
What are your earliest musical memories?
The first time I played in an orchestra with strings in high school, which was when I first realized I wanted to make my living as a professional horn player; and hearing the Philadelphia Orchestra play Brahms Second Symphony the week I auditioned for Curtis....it was the first time I heard a professional orchestra and that memory still blows me away today!
When did you know music would be your career?
When I was accepted into The Curtis Institute of Music
Photo: Michael Gast in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, during a Common Chords side-by-side rehearsal.
Who are your greatest musical influences?
My first horn teacher at Florida State University, Dr. William Capps, who taught me how to play this finicky instrument well; all of the faculty at Curtis, who taught me about musicianship and the lost art of playing with color; and Dale Clevenger, former principal horn of the Chicago Symphony, who insisted I play with risk and desire greatness in performance.
What should we know about your role in the Orchestra?
The role of the principal horn involves listening to the woodwinds, brass and string sections for a lot of information and adjustment of many musical components during rehearsals and each concert. I am also responsible for setting the style and demeanor for my horn section and collaborating with all the wind principals to play and think together to realize the conductors' interpretation.
Who are your favorite composers and why?
Mahler and Richard Strauss, because of the great writing for horns and the expressive qualities in the music.
Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
Anyone who wants to do this on this level must have an unending amount of patience, courage and drive as well as guidance from established teachers and performers in the field. My first horn teacher told me early in high school that hard work always pays off...and I say how far you take it is your personal quest.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Playing Principal Horn is very stressful, and one of my favorite escapes is to scuba dive in the Caribbean with my wife. (In fact, if I weren’t a professional musician, I’d be an oceanographer!) The animal behavior under water is fascinating, and being a Florida boy I enjoy as much beach time as I can get. Travel and golf are in my schedule as well.
Do you have any thoughts for audience members?
Forget all your troubles and obligations when you come to hear this great orchestra, and just soak in the fabulous sounds we make.