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Musical Chairs: Meadows Trombone Students Win Orchestral Positions

Longtime Dallas Symphony Orchestra principal trombonist and Meadows Adjunct Professor of Trombone John Kitzman prepares students for the symphony life

Steven Peterson (M.M. ’13) is now principal trombonist with the San Antonio Symphony.

John Kitzman

Adjunct Professor of Trombone John Kitzman was principal trombonist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for 43 years.

SMU Meadows trombone students and alums were high-fiving again in spring 2016 when five more of their Meadows colleagues landed positions in orchestras.

The latest students and alumni to win new symphony positions include Chris Oliver (B.M. ’99), second trombone in the Dallas Symphony; Darren McHenry (B.M. ’92), bass trombone, Dallas Symphony; Jeff Dee (B.M. ’99), former bass trombonist with the Buffalo Symphony, now bass trombonist for the Pittsburgh Symphony, with which he toured Europe in June; and Steven Peterson (M.M. ’13), now principal trombonist with the San Antonio Symphony. In addition, Jacob Muzquiz (M.M. ’17) recently won the position of principal trombonist for the Midland-Odessa Symphony & Chorale.

These are just the most recent achievements for trombonists from the studio of Meadows Adjunct Professor of Trombone John Kitzman. Other Kitzman alumni also hold positions in ensembles, orchestras and music schools, including Derek Hawkes (B.M. in Performance/Trombone and B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies ’14), second trombone for the Jacksonville Symphony; Lee Rogers, principal trombone, Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra; Daniel Brady, bass trombone with the U.S. Marine Corps Band; Dr. Donald Pinson (M.M. ’03), associate professor of trombone at Del Mar College; and Ben Osborne, second trombone in the Austin Symphony and professor of trombone at Sam Houston State, among others.

“I have been very fortunate over the years to be involved with a number of highly motivated young trombonists who want to have careers in performance and higher education,” says Kitzman. “Having a number of them in a studio creates an atmosphere that encourages and inspires them all to achieve more. The brass faculty at Meadows has worked together so well in my years to help create a program that challenges and educates the students in what it takes to compete in the professional world. I am very thankful for the opportunity SMU has given me to work with so many great young people and supportive colleagues.”

Peterson, who played in Meadows Wind, Symphony, Jazz, SYZYGY and World Music ensembles while a grad student at SMU, says he can’t think of any other teacher or musician who holds the discipline of music in higher esteem than Kitzman. “The pursuit of excellence has been an extremely powerful mechanism and driving force in John's life,” says Peterson. “He has been a great teacher and mentor for me these last few years. When I got to SMU I was a bit older than most students, as I had been playing a lot of commercial gigs like cruise ships after I finished my undergraduate degree at University of Michigan. John helped guide me back to creating a more orchestral sound that helped me to some recent success, and hopefully toward more successes in the future.”

In addition to teaching music at Meadows School of the Arts, Kitzman was principal trombonist for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) for 43 years, retiring in spring 2015. During that time he played hundreds of concerts in Dallas and around the world, citing the opening of the Meyerson Symphony Center as a highlight, as well as performances in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Musikverein in Vienna and the Philharmoniker concert hall in Berlin.

He has worked with music greats such as Mstislav Rostropovitch, Pinchas Zukerman, Maurice Andre and conductors Eduardo Mata, Kurt Masur and Jaap van Zweden. He has also worked with popular artists Henry Mancini, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles and Sammy Davis Jr., among many others.

Kitzman enjoys an international reputation, and is featured as the cover story in the April/May 2016 edition of the International Trombone Association Journal.

Undergraduate and graduate trombone students at Meadows have several opportunities to play on and off campus. On campus, music students can audition for the Meadows Symphony Orchestra; the Meadows Jazz Orchestra; Meadows Wind Ensemble; Meadows World Music Ensemble; Meadows Chorale, Concert Choir and Diva Dolce; Meadows Percussion Ensemble; SYZYGY new music ensemble; and POINT ensemble, which blends technology with personal artistic expression. The Meadows ensembles also perform in the Dallas Arts District and other locales in the metroplex.

Read more about the award-winning SMU Meadows Division of Music, the Brass Department and various Meadows ensembles.

Read more about John Kitzman.

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