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WRTI is proud to partner with Astral to present members of its outstanding roster of rising classical talent in this new video series. Hosted by WRTI producer Susan Lewis and recorded live in WRTI's performance studio, these programs are "performance portraits" that capture the range and ingenuity of these exceptional artists.

WRTI Presents ASTRAL: Trombonist Brittany Lasch, with guest pianist Thomas Weaver

Trombonist Brittany Lasch with pianist Thomas Weaver
Trombonist Brittany Lasch with pianist Thomas Weaver in the WRTI Performance Studio

When teenage Brittany Lasch heard her band director play themes from Star Wars on the trombone, she fell in love with the instrument and has been exploring its musical possibilities ever since. Now an Astral Artist and principal trombone of the Detroit Opera Orchestra, Brittany and her frequent collaborator, pianist Thomas Weaver visited the WRTI Performance Studio as part of our video series, WRTI Presents ASTRAL.

Brittany and Thomas kick off their program with a dramatic and technically tricky piece. In Anthony Plog’s Conjuro from Four Themes on Paintings of Goya, the trombone jumps from note to note. “Anthony Plog is a trumpet player,” says Brittany, laughing. “So he’s probably thinking valves.” It’s music that requires great technique and a musical partner like Tom Weaver eager to explore new ways of playing together.

What’s the secret of their working relationship? “Tacos!” They say at once, laughing.

“We’ve known each other so long, it’s like playing with a friend all the time,” says Tom. The next work on the program is from one of the duo’s favorites to play: Eric Ewazen’s Sonata for Trombone and Piano. The moving and lyrical piece is also one of the works Brittany played in Astral’s 2017 National Auditions.

Enthusiastic and close collaboration was also at work between Brittany and composer Reena Esmail in her new Sonata for Trombone and Piano, which premiered on May 7, 2022.

Brittany, who had no background in Indian classical music, describes learning the piece. She studied the notes but also listened to recordings of Reena singing the music, so that she could emulate on the trombone the style of Hindustani singers. “It’s what between the notes,” says Brittany, “ that nobody can really notate.” Listen to this second movement and hear the gorgeous voice of the trombone, pulling you into this musical world.

Astral is a Philadelphia-based, nonprofit intensive mentoring program that specializes in developing the early careers of extraordinary classical musicians.

Learn more about Brittany Lasch and Thomas Weaver. And check out an engaging video conversation between Reena Esmail and Brittany about the process of composing and learning Sonata for Trombone and Piano.

As senior producer of arts and culture, Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and producer of The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series, to which she also contributes weekly intermission interviews. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.