Jacksonville Symphony Welcomes Three New Musicians: Music Director Courtney Lewis has named Joseph Grimmer as principal bassoon, Derek Hawkes as second trombone and Forrest Sonntag as second trumpet

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Jacksonville Symphony Welcomes Three New Musicians

Principal Bassoon, Second Trombone and Second Trumpet Chairs Filled in Core Orchestra

Jacksonville, FL (May 15, 2015) — The Jacksonville Symphony has completed blind auditions for three of its core orchestra positions. Music Director Courtney Lewis has named Joseph Grimmer as principal bassoon, Derek Hawkes as second trombone and Forrest Sonntag as second trumpet. The auditions were held in March and April in Jacoby Symphony Hall at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts.

“I’m delighted to welcome three new members to the Jacksonville Symphony family,” said Lewis. “Each position had hundreds of applicants, and these three remarkable musicians were the unanimous choices of the audition committees. I’m looking forward to beginning my first full season as music director this fall with such an outstanding roster in place.” Nearly 200 musicians auditioned for the three positions.

Grimmer earned his Bachelor of Music at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music and his Master of Music from Rice University. He spent the 2013-2014 season in the opposite corner of the state as acting assistant principal of the Naples Philharmonic. He has been a member of the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra, IRIS Orchestra and Kentucky Symphony Orchestra. Grimmer has also appeared with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Windsor Symphony Orchestra and Grand Rapids Symphony. This summer, Grimmer will be performing with the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra and the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra. Hailing from Colorado, Grimmer is an avid hiker and has summited 21 “fourteeners,” mountains over 14,000 feet.  In his free time he enjoys trip planning and traveling with his wife. “We’re re looking forward to exploring Florida,” said Grimmer.

Hawkes comes from a musical family where his father played trombone and his mother was a singer. He began piano instruction at the age of five and trombone at age 10. He graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Trombone Performance from Southern Methodist University. His performance experience includes the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Bangor Symphony Orchestra and the Las Colinas-Arlington-Garland Symphony.

“I am already in the midst of a serious love affair with Bold Bean Coffee Roasters,” said Hawkes about Jacksonville. “I’m also an avid hockey enthusiast and am looking forward to spending some of my off hours at the Jacksonville Ice and Sportsplex.”

Sonntag graduated from the Manhattan School of Music with a Bachelor of Music in Classical Trumpet Performance. He has performed with the New World Symphony, Orchid City Brass Band of West Palm Beach, Patriot Brass Ensemble and Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra. Sonntag listens to hip hop and classic rock music and loves to play golf. He is also an obsessed auto enthusiast. “I work on, modify, and detail cars whenever I can. Some people spend their money going on trips or buying new clothes or shoes. I spend mine on cars,” said Sonntag.

“We are excited about the new additions to the Symphony as we embark on Courtney Lewis’ inaugural season as music director, “said Robert Massey, President and CEO of the Jacksonville Symphony. “Joining our roster of amazing musicians, these talented artists will make a strong impact on our programs, both onstage and off.”

The Jacksonville Symphony is Northeast Florida’s cultural leader in providing live symphonic entertainment and youth music education. For more information visit www.jaxsymphony.org, like the Symphony on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/JaxSymphony, follow them on Twitter @JaxSymphony and @UpTempoJax, and on Instagram at JaxSymphony.


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