1996 graduate, Steven Lamb
Life After GDYO, with Steven Lamb
Q&A with Steven
What is your GDYO story?
I joined the Dallas Junior Orchestra under the direction of Michael Coren in the fall of 1991. I auditioned on the suggestion of my private lesson teacher and got in! Being a tuba player in the band-centric programs in North Texas, I had never had the opportunity to perform with an orchestra until I showed up. I still remember the music for that first rehearsal: Mussourgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain and Tchaikovsky’s Waltz from Sleeping Beauty.
I played with the DJO for three years, and then I auditioned and was asked to play with GDYO starting in the fall of 1994, which I played tuba through the European tour of 1996.
Looking back at those years, two things stand out to me: the people and the repertoire (in that order). Regarding my orchestra colleagues, the level of musicianship in the ensembles was incredible, and that type of diligence and dedication carried over to post-GDYO life. I know a few of my GDYO colleagues are very successful in careers outside of music, some are also impassioned music educators, such as Dominic Powell, and some are playing in the highest echelons of orchestras in the world.
As far as the repertoire goes, GDYO was the bulk of my orchestral experience for many years, some of it being Tchaikovsky’s Fourth and Fifth Symphonies, Holst’s Planets, and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique. When I now have professional opportunities to perform music I first played in GDYO, I still think back to those first encounters 20+ years ago.
Do you still play? Tell us about that.
I do still play the tuba, and have been fortunate enough to make it my livelihood. For the past fourteen years, I have held a position of Tuba with the United States Coast Guard Band, and just this past January was offered the position of Principal Tuba with the Rhode Island Philharmonic.
After graduating high school (and leaving GDYO), I studied music at the Eastman School of Music for four years. I then moved back to Texas to do graduate work at Rice University. After three years of studying and freelancing in Houston, I auditioned and was offered the position with the Coast Guard Band. I moved up to Connecticut to join the CG Band and have been here since 2003. The Rhode Island Philharmonic position is a recent and welcome development in my career, and I’m able to hold that position along with my duties in the CG Band.
Looking back on your college experience, what is one piece of advice that you would give to a student pursuing a music degree, like besides just practicing?
Just Say Yes. (Bear with me as I go on a tangent and then come back.) One of the tenets of acting improvisation is you have to say yes to your fellow actors/actresses no matter how outlandish their previous actions or lines were. An answer of no would stop the scene and lose the creative momentum. I feel the same about our careers and studying music. Even if student wants to focus their career on playing their instrument, they should study conducting, composition, form pickup groups, play diverse styles, learn a second instrument etc. In essence, just say yes to your creative ideas and to your classmates’ creative ideas. It’s in those creative collaborations that we as artists grow and develop.
Looking back on your time outside of school, what are some things that have most surprised you about your adult life?
My career has looked nothing like what I envisioned while in school, but it’s been a good ride and I’m still having tons of fun. Everyday I wake up grateful that can still be a musician and play tuba.