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An important aspect of any musician’s career is having support and mentorship from experienced professionals. Cuesta College student Collin Odom, 21, plays the bassoon and will join the Symphony of the Vines Orchestra and virtuoso trumpeter Paul Merkelo for The Russian Connection,  Sunday, January 6, at Atascadero United Methodist Church.

“I really appreciate the opportunity to play with professional musicians while I’m a student,” Odom said. “It puts a lot of pressure on me, but I think that’s good. It will help me grow as a musician.”

The Russian Connection features “Concerto for Piano and Trumpet with Orchestra” written by Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich in 1933. Odom is looking forward to performing with Paul Merkelo, Solo Trumpet of the Montreal Symphony, who has toured and recorded with orchestras all over the world. The program also features well-known pianist, Robert Cassidy, and many talented regional musicians who form the Symphony of the Vines Orchestra conducted by Dr. Greg Magie.

“I really appreciate the opportunity to play with professional musicians while I’m a student,” Odom said. “It puts a lot of pressure on me, but I think that’s good. It will help me grow as a musician.”

In the 5th grade, Odom’s dad taught him how to play the guitar.  The next natural step was the formation of a band, The Dune Rats, with his neighborhood buddies. However, a year later, his musical inspirations took a radical turn when a foreign exchange student stayed with his family. She brought along her flute. “I just thought it sounded really cool,” and that was the end of any rock and roll aspirations.

Odom continued with the flute and found himself gravitating towards classical instruments and music. However, in his high school band, he was one of many flute players. “I not only saw the need for the bassoon, but I was taken with the sound. It has a special character and stands out during a performance,” he explained.

The bassoon is the largest instrument in the woodwind family with the lowest pitch. It is more than 4 feet long with 14 thumb keys, and many consider it one of the most difficult instruments in the orchestra to play.

Odom is practicing two hours a day until rehearsals begin with the entire orchestra in early January. “Right now I play along with recordings, but it’s not the same as sitting with the other players and sharing ideas. I’m looking forward to that experience.”

He will graduate from Cuesta this year and is applying to numerous universities. He plans to become a professional bassoonist and teach master classes. In a classic “beware of what you wish for” scenario, the Shell Beach musician dreams of someday performing with an orchestra in a northern European country with long, cold winters. “I just really like snow.”

You can experience The Russian Connection with Paul Merkelo, Robert Cassidy and the Symphony of the Vines Orchestra on Sunday, January 6, 3 pm, at the Atascadero United Methodist Church, 11605 El Camino Real, Atascadero. Tickets are $15 – $30, and children K-12 are free with a paid adult thanks to a sponsorship from Jim and Carolyn Brescia. Tickets are available at the door or click to ticket to purchase online: 

 

 

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