Conservatory Alumni Win Orchestral Appointments
Steelman has Good Reason to "Toot his Own Horn"
Lyle Steelman '01, and Ryah Haskins '04, have recently received prestigious orchestral appointments. In March Haskins was named the musical director and conductor of the Sioux City, Iowa Symphony Orchestra. The Cleveland Orchestra announced Steelman's appointment as assistant principal trumpet May 15. He will join the orchestra on July 29 at Blossom Music Center, the summer home of the ensemble.
“I feel like I have attained the unattainable,” Steelman said. “I feel most fortunate. I get to play in a world class orchestra that happens to reside in my home town! An absolute dream come true!”
Originally from Euclid, Steelman has most recently been principal trumpet of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra since 2006. Prior to that position he performed with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra for two years. He received his master’s degree from Southern Methodist University and was principal trumpet of the National Repertory Orchestra. His teachers include James Darling, BW faculty and member of the Cleveland Orchestra (now retired), as well as Tom Booth ’74, a member of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
Darling said that Steelman was an exceptionally talented trumpeter. "He exhibited a desire to excel from the very first lesson," Darling said. "I remember his last jury (musical final exam). He performed the Enescu Legend among other required pieces. When he finished, Professor Allen Kofsky leaned over to me and said, 'That was the best trumpet jury I have ever head!' And it was!" Darling said he expects to see much more from Steelman in the future. Although now retired from the Cleveland Orchestra, Darling has left a legacy. Half of the orchestra's trumpet section are his former students: Michael Miller '85 and now, Steelman.
Haskins Takes the Helm of Sioux City Orchestra
It seems that Ryan Haskins ’04, was destined to be a conductor. When he started Suzuki violin class at the age of four (a system for teaching violin to young children), he stood behind the teacher and conducted over her shoulder. Now he is the one for others to emulate. His conducting career began in earnest at BW under the tutelage of Dwight Oltman.
“Within six months he had me in front of an ensemble,” Haskins recalled. “If it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now.” Haskins conducted several ensembles while still a student. Then he earned a post graduate diploma in orchestral conducting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and worked with a number of ensembles there.
“He was a natural leader from the start and worked very hard to develop his musicianship and conducting skills,” Oltman said. Most recently Haskins has been an assistant conductor to the Opera Department and Peabody Symphony Orchestra at Peabody Conservatory and a cover conductor for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
Haskins was selected for the Sioux City post from a pool of 117 applicants following a two-year search. In his new position he is eager to focus on the educational aspect of orchestral performance. “The approach to the classical concert is changing,” he said. “Pre-concert talks allow people to enter into an environment where they can connect with the composer and the music. They also break the barrier that has developed between the stage and the audience.” Post-concert chats continue to foster the relationship between the performers and the audience. Haskins’ goal is to banish the perception of a stuffy concert hall, affect the audience experience and attract younger concert patrons. A proponent of new music, he hopes the education aspect of his position also will help audiences to appreciate contemporary works.
Haskins reiterated that he owes his success to his mentor Dwight Oltman.
As for Oltman, he noted, “Our relationship has gone from student and teacher to respected colleague and close family friend.”