The Jacksonville Symphony recently announced several additions to the orchestra and four of the new members can definitely qualify as part of the youth movement that is hitting Jacoby Hall. In addition to 32-year-old Music Director Courtney Lewis and 26-year-old Assistant Conductor Nathan Aspinall, the Jacksonville Symphony’s newest musicians are fresh faces and ready to conquer new worlds.
Katherine Caliendo (horn), Tristan Clarke (trumpet), Jonathan Kuo (violin) and Brian Magnus (cello) all have traits of the Renaissance in their character. They all hail from different parts of the country, have traveled throughout the world, and are excited about making Jacksonville their home. Each of them remarks about the warm welcome that they have received and how much they have enjoyed getting settled into the community.
Katherine Caliendo, horn
Katherine Caliendo talks about how she first started to play the horn: Sitting in her classroom in a Point Pleasant, New Jersey, school, she listened to the music teacher talk about each of the instruments. She was leaning towards picking up the flute, but when the music teacher talked about how the horn was the one instrument you got to put your hand inside of to play, Caliendo was hooked.
Her dad was her very first music teacher and later served as a high school band director. Caliendo started college at Manhattan School of Music but then moved to Houston. For the past eight years she has lived in Texas, attending Rice University for undergraduate and master’s degrees. She has held positions with the Houston and San Antonio Symphonies.
Her family definitely has a creative streak. Her brother was a musical theatre major at Montclair State University and is currently auditioning for theatre roles.
“Being a musician allows me to express the creative side of my personality,” she says. “So if the horn weren’t my outlet, then it would be another of my interests – French, art history or psychology. I also fantasize about opening a coffee shop in the mountains.”
In her spare time she reads, runs, meditates, cooks up culinary adventures and travels. She has even started to play the accordion. Being a Jersey Shore girl, coming to Jacksonville with its wide expanse of beaches is almost like going home for her. A huge fan of thin crust New York-style pizza, she has found that Carmine’s Pie House and “V” offer good renditions of her favorite food.
While her favorite composer is Tchaikovsky, she’s currently listening to the soundtrack of Star Trek Into Darkness on her phone.
Tristan Clarke, trumpet
Tristan Clarke is the principal trumpet for the Jacksonville Symphony, but to some people he is known as one half of the duo Melodica Men. What’s a melodica? It sounds like a harmonica and requires all the skills of piano, wind and brass players.
Clarke and his roommate, Joe, a trombone player and composer, took Melodica Men on the road, visiting Seattle and Paris over the summer. His dad lives in Paris so that was an easy stop, but what he found truly remarkable was how playing music in the many Paris parks attracted so many great people.
“We were playing in a park near the Eiffel Tower,” he recounts. “There was a group of about six to eight of us and some French guys came over. Their English wasn’t good but they made themselves understood. They wanted to be able to sit with us and enjoy our music.”
Human connections like this are part of what drives Tristan Clarke. He loves his work with the Jacksonville Symphony and considers music to be the most unifying art form. “I’ve had so many life-changing experiences with music and all I can ask for is to share them with others,” he adds.
Article written by Amy Rankin
Photography by Tiffany Manning