7190310Please read this great article about Keith Dyrda! He did win second place in the 2010 WMC McLellan Competition for Solo Performance with the WSO. And now he is playing 2nd Trombone with the WSO! He will be playing with the orchestra when the 2016 WMC McLellan Competition’s finals occur on April 22nd 2016.
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World-travelling trombonist blows back into town
‘Prairie boy’ Keith Dyrda takes a seat with WSO
Music Matters By: Holly Harris
They say you can’t go home again. But trombonist Keith Dyrda, one of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s newest members, has done just that, packing up his instrument and moving back to the city earlier this month after an eight-year absence.
“I’m very excited being back,” the 26-year-old Oakbank-born musician, who grew up in Winnipeg, says in an interview. “It’s also great playing with this wonderful orchestra I used to hear all the time as a kid.”
Keith Dyrda topped a nationwide field of 18 musicians to land the plum job of WSO’s second trombone.
Dyrda’s travels have taken him to all four corners of the globe. In 2010, he joined the celebrated Canadian Brass ensemble, invited by its soon-to-be-retiring trombonist Eugene Watts, who co-founded the quintet in 1970. Still only 21, and engrossed in his final year of studies at Montreal’s McGill University, Dyrda balanced the demands of the road — performing concerts in China, Germany, Holland, Austria, Venezuela and Italy, as well the U.S. and Canada — with completing his undergraduate degree in trombone performance.
“We had a blast,” Dyrda says of the whirlwind experience, adding he still keeps in touch with the group. “But I felt I needed to keep growing as an artist, and lay the foundation for having a long career, not just a fast one.”
He made the gutsy decision to leave the group after only one year, embarking on a master’s of music at Chicago’s Northwestern University, where he studied with renowned trombonist Michael Mulcahy. After graduating in 2013, Dyrda spent another year freelancing in the Windy City, gigging with the Chicago Symphony, Lyric Opera Orchestra, Chicago Philharmonic and Elgin Symphony Orchestra.
But he longed to return to Canada. Fate stepped in when Dyrda saw an online WSO audition call for its second trombone chair last spring. He competed against a nationwide field of 18 players and landed the plum job that began this month.
Coincidentally, Dyrda now shares the stage with another notable figure in his life: his trombone teacher from his teenage years, WSO principal trombonist Steven Dyer. The longtime orchestra musician sings his former protegé’s praises.
“I have always known Keith to be a talented, hard-working musician and always committed to achieving excellence,” Dyer says. “His playing is at once expressive and supported with a well-developed technique. Keith is also a person of genuine warmth and wit, already proving to be a great team player, both on and off the stage. I am thrilled to welcome him back home to Winnipeg as a partner in our renowned brass section.”
Dyrda’s career path has come full circle in another way. He garnered second prize in the 2010 WMC McLellan Competition for Solo Performance with the WSO (his elder brother Jeffrey, a violinist, won second place in 2008), dazzling audiences with his charismatic stage presence and technical prowess. Now it’s his turn to support the next set of finalists when they compete in the 2016 competition in the spring.
“That experience helped me so much. It gave me a good leg up of what to expect when playing with a large ensemble,” he says. “This time, I’ll be in the orchestra accompanying the soloists — that will be really neat.”
Arguably, few children grow up dreaming of becoming a professional trombonist. The notoriously fussy instrument demands bull’s-eye precision when navigating its slide mechanism; any misstep can lead to sour notes. Dyrda says his early years studying violin — he still plays a mean fiddle — through the Suzuki program, with its rigorous ear-training exercises, helped make his choice easy.
“The trombone is very much like the human voice,” he says. “I fell in love with it because it’s such a lyrical instrument. Even when you hear great jazz players play, it sounds like singing.”
Does he pine for his former glory days, touring the globe and sharing the spotlight with one of the world’s top brass ensembles?
“Sure, I miss that, but this organization has such a great sense of community,” he says, adding he’s enjoying a more structured life with regular rehearsals and performances. “There’s a lot of players in the orchestra my age or younger now. We like to hang out together and last week went trampolining.”
But his touring life is not quite done yet. The orchestra recently kicked off its WSO in Brandon series two weeks ago. Dyrda had a chance to visit family members living in Wheat City, including his 94-year-old grandfather, whom he hadn’t seen in five years.
“It’s been great reconnecting with my roots and where I’ve come from,” he says. “I’m a prairie boy. And you never lose that once it’s in your blood.”
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WSO associate concertmaster Karl Stobbe won a Western Canadian Music Award for classical recording of the year for his inaugural solo album, Ysaøe Sonatas for Solo Violin. Manitoba-born composer Jocelyn Morlock received classical composition of the year honours for her violin and chamber-orchestra work Cobalt. The awards were presented Sept. 17-20 in Victoria.
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Don Anderson kicks off his latest music-appreciation course this week, Inside the String Quartet. The seven-week course runs throughout mid-November with both daytime and evening slots available. For more information, call the Manitoba Conservatory of Music & Arts at 204-943-6090 or email info@mcma.ca.
holly.harris@shaw.ca
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 3, 2015