Prestigious musician visits OHS


Khaleb Charles

Musician Joe Burgstaller visited OHS on Nov. 21

Ben Stelter

On Tuesday, Nov. 21 the Owatonna High School bands held their first concert in the High School auditorium.  The Husky, Varsity, and Concert bands each performed a number of great songs, but this concert was unlike any other, the concert band hosted a special guest.  Former principal trumpet for the Canadian Brass, Joe Burgstaller showcased his world renowned abilities in three songs accompanied by the Concert Band.  

Burgstaller introduced the unique ability of rotary breathing while taking selfies during the song La Virgen De La Macarena by Arturo Sandoval. He also displayed the many sounds one can make on a trumpet during his second piece Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin.  Rhapsody in Blue was a treat, because junior Jacob Pfeifer had a duet on the Piano with Burgstaller.  The evening was topped off with an encore performance of a Concerto in D Major movement three by Antonio Vivaldi and Johann Sebastian Bach.

Burgstaller first started playing the harmonica at the age of four, and the trumpet when he was five after he experienced the coronet for the first time when instruments were brought to his school.  He got his first job at the age of 14 in the Virginia Opera, and then went to school.  After Burgstaller graduated in 1995, he spent the rest of his time touring up to ten or eleven months a year until about a year and a half ago when he started doing clinics.  Burgstaller still does about 30 solo concerts a year and is the full time professor of trumpet and chamber music at the Peabody Conservatory of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

I’ve always made it a focus of my career to work with as many young students as possible, so this is really typical for me to come to a school like this.

— Joe Burgstaller

When asked what brought him here, Burgstaller said, “I’ve always made it a focus of my career to work with as many young students as possible, so this is really typical for me to come to a school like this.”  Burgstaller also said, “One of my agents who does my university and clinic work is I think long time colleagues with the band director here.” Burgstaller noted that the Concert performed on Tuesday was the end of a week-long Minnesota tour performing with community bands, semi-professional bands, and other high school bands.

Band director Mr. Peter Guenther was ecstatic about performing with Burgstaller, when asked how the concert went Guenther said, “It was probably one of the finest concerts that’s ever been on the stage since I’ve been here, all three groups, I thought it was exceptional.”  Burgstaller highlighted a few time throughout the rehearsal how strange, but delightful it was to be working with a High School band that is “playing at a University level.”. That was even reiterated after the concert when Burgstaller said, “That was real.”  This moment was special because Mr. Guenther said in explanation to Burgstaller’s comment, “Which means it was the real deal, which was the way music was meant to be played, and to hear that from a professional performer really says a lot about the kids, what they can do.”  Guenther thought this concert will be very memorable for him because of the success that each band had during their performances, and of the praise from a professional musician had to say about the band program.

Senior trumpet player Evan Steiger also commented on playing with Burgstaller.  When Steiger was asked on his thoughts on playing with Burgstaller, he said, “It was really inspiring to see him perform with such a high caliber of musicality.  The first time I heard him play all I could do was smile. It was a blast being able to listen to and perform with him.”  So not only did the audience get a treat on Tuesday, the band members did as well.  For the band members, it is really cool to see such talent from an elite performer, because they have not gotten to experience something like that before.  This concert will go down as a top memory for a lot of people who had the privilege of experiencing it, because of all the hard work and feeling put into the performance.