The third annual National Anthem contest winner was recently announced by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and the St. Louis Blues. A quartet of local high school trombone players won the opportunity to perform "The Star-Spangled Banner" at an upcoming Blues home game during the 2019-2020 season.
The quartet was commended by the panel of judges for their original Blues-inspired rendition of the anthem, which was arranged by 15-year-old Thomas Gustafson. The quartet members are Gustafson, a sophomore at Clayton High School; Daniel Jung, a senior at Ladue Horton Watkins High School; Geoffrey Ladue, a senior at Lafayette High School; and Evan Smith, a senior at O’Fallon Township High School. All four are members of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra.
The contest began with 250 initial submission and live auditions by 25 acts. Auditions for the finalists were held on Aug. 24 at Powell Hall. The competition included various vocalists, instrumentalists and small groups. The panel of judges consisted of former Blues National Anthem singer Charles Glenn; SLSO IN UNISON chorus director Kevin McBeth; SLSO musician Gerry Pagano; Kennedy Holmes, St. Louis native and finalist on season 15 of NBC’s The Voice; and James Bertels, who was a winner of the inaugural contest in 2017-2018.
Glenn says: “The talent we heard throughout the competition was staggering. Any one of the finalists could have gone to a larger market, auditioned and won. The level of competition was unparalleled.”
The auditions were part of an ongoing partnership between the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and the St. Louis Blues.