September 25, 2017

Meet Karl Vilcins, new bassoon and contra-bassoon

A Long Island native, bassoonist Karl Vilcins is a graduate of Ohio State University and the Manhattan School of Music. From 2005-2011, he served as principal bassoon with the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra. For the past five years, he has worked as a New York City freelance musician, playing with many groups including the Orchestra of St. Lukes, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, American Ballet Theater, and the American Composers Orchestra.

Personal: Married to Aimee, daughter Ava (5), son Jacob (4), Shelby, black lab

On choosing bassoon: I started clarinet in fourth grade. One night I was watching a PBS broadcast of an orchestra concert with my grandmother. I don’t remember the piece they were playing, but it featured the bassoon section and I immediately fell in love with it! I went up to my band director the next day and told him I had to play bassoon. He then tried to discourage me from playing it, saying “You seriously want to play this thing?!?!” Look at all the thumb keys!!!” The rest is history!

How would I describe myself:
Easy going, with very frequent spells of silliness I have two small kids!

I enjoy carpentry and furniture making; I don’t see it as being that different to reed making. I do fair amount of carpentry as a hobby and a small side business

What I’m reading: Anything by Mo Willems (children’s books). The life of a father with two kids! Also, I love my Woodsmith Magazine.

Favorite concerts this season: I’m looking forward to Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite. It has a very fun contra-bassoon solo. Also, Harry Potter. Is there an explanation needed?

Look for Karl onstage this fall, and read more about him on!  

September 22, 2017

Meet David Bruestle, new principal trombone

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, David Bruestle joined the RPO in May 2017 as principal trombone (The Austin E. Hildebrandt Chair), after serving as acting principal trombone since October 2016. Prior to joining the RPO, Bruestle served as second trombone with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and principal trombone with the Erie Philharmonic. Bruestle completed a Doctor of Musical Arts from the Eastman School of Music in May 2015 under the tutelage of Mark Kellogg, his predecessor as principal trombone of the RPO. Bruestle also earned his bachelor’s degree at Eastman and a master’s from the Manhattan School of Music.

David Bruestle
Personal: My wife Katie is an Eastman School of Music graduate in horn performance currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of Rochester. We have two cats, Harry and Gus.

What are you reading right now?
I recently received a book of letters from Edvard Grieg to his friends and colleagues. I find it interesting to learn about the connections between composers and other important figures of their time through their correspondence.

How would you describe yourself?
  • Organized and tidy: I have been told I have an eye for detail.
  •  Proactive and efficient: You know the saying, “never leave a room without something for another,” although sometimes you can only carry so much, especially when lugging around a trombone case.
  • Conscientious and diplomatic: I try not to ruffle many feathers.
When and why did you choose your instrument?
My parents initially aspired to be music teachers and they had a collection of different instruments. My siblings and I took piano lessons from an early age and when we started in a school with a band program, each of us picked up another instrument. The summer before starting sixth grade, I examined my parents’ collection of instruments and pulled out an old silver trombone. I have always thought I might turn that instrument into a side table or lamp someday!

What advice would you give to young musicians?
No journey to an orchestral career is the same. Keep driving ahead. Take every opportunity you can
and be prepared to excel in each one. You never know which connection or experience along the way
will create the next opportunity for you to advance.

Favorite piece you are looking forward to playing this season at the RPO?
I guess as a trombonist I have to pick Ravel’s BolĂ©ro for the big solo, but I am also looking forward to Bartok’s Miraculous Mandarin Suite since it will be a first for me and it has a couple of exciting passages for the trombone section.

Look for David onstage this fall, and read more about him on! 

September 21, 2017

Meet Cory Palmer, new principal bass

Cory Palmer
c Nadine Photography
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Cory Palmer joins the RPO this season as principal bass (The Anne Hayden McQuay Chair). Prior to joining the RPO, he was principal bass of the Canton Symphony Orchestra from 2012−16. He also has held positions with the Sarasota Opera and the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. While growing up in Atlanta, Palmer was a member of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra and studied with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Principal Bassist Ralph Jones. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music performance from Michigan State University, master’s degrees from John Hopkins University and Manhattan School of Music, and attended a performance residency program at Carnegie Mellon University.

Personal: My wife’s name is Kate. We got married last November in Nashville, Tennessee. We have one dog that we think is a Chihuahua/terrier mix. Her name is Ryder and she is about 12 years old.

When and why did you choose your instrument?

I chose the bass in fifth grade when my class went to visit the middle school and we saw the orchestra, band, and chorus perform. The bass player played the Jaws theme and I was hooked. I started playing bass the next year!

What app can’t you live without?
Spotify, Facebook, and Candy Crush. I have an on-again, off-again relationship with Candy Crush—I
delete it when it starts taking up too much of my time.

What fascinates you besides music?
Food. I love cooking and going out to great restaurants. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hole in the wall or a
super fancy restaurant. If it has delicious food, I’ll be there. I’m especially partial to a good brunch.

Favorite piece you are looking forward to playing this season at the RPO?

This is a very tough question so I’m going to cheat and pick three.
  • Don Juan from our season opener because this was the first piece on the first concert I played when I started college at Michigan State University and it’s the first piece on the first concert I’m playing with the RPO.
  • Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 because this is a huge piece for orchestra auditions and I somehow haven’t performed it before this season.
  • Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9—it’s just an incredible piece.
What advice would you give to young musicians?
  •  Take advantage of all the resources out there these days. There are so many great resources online for finding local concerts, listening to great performances, connecting with fellow musicians, finding sheet music, and so much more. Expose yourself to as much as you can.
  • Record yourself regularly. It’s important to know what you sound like.
  • Perform regularly. Play for anybody that will listen whether it’s a teacher, colleague, family member, or total stranger. 
Look for Cory onstage this fall, and read more about him on!