8th Army trombone player meets role model at Philadelphia Orchestra concert in Seoul
SEOUL, South Korea — An 8th Army Band member got to cross an exciting item off his bucket list thanks to a visit by the Philadelphia Orchestra — meeting his role model, world-renowned bass trombonist Blair Bollinger.
The orchestra invited Staff Sgt. James Beeson to meet Bollinger and attend a concert at the Seoul Arts Center Thursday after learning of his admiration for the musician.
“I told my wife it’s kind of bucket list-ish,” the 43-year-old trombone player said in an interview before the concert.
Beeson, of Bowling Green, Ohio, said the fact that one of the pieces to be performed at the concert was Beethoven’s 5th Symphony was icing on the cake.
“It was one of the first orchestral pieces I played in high school,” he said. “The chance to listen to one of the guys I admire most playing that is exciting.”
He smiled broadly as Bollinger, decked out in coat and tails, approached him for the backstage meeting as other musicians practiced around them.
They chatted about new techniques, and at one point Beeson got to hold Bollinger’s trombone as the musician stepped away for a few minutes to get something.
Beeson, who joined the Army as a field artilleryman but transferred once he learned about the band, was happy he got to meet Bollinger before leaving next week for his new post with the 296th Army Band at Camp Zama, Japan.
The opportunity arose earlier this week when Beeson attended a USO concert by a string quartet performing at Yongsan Garrison as part of the orchestra’s public outreach.
“In chatting with members of our staff, we found out about his admiration of and appreciation for Mr. Bollinger’s skill on the bass trombone,” said Brian Goldthorpe, communications director for the orchestra’s Asia tour.
His team had to scramble to get tickets for Beeson and some other soldiers because the concert was sold out.
“This is really our opportunity to show our appreciation and our support for our troops, and using music to do that,” Goldthorpe said.