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Student Spotlight: Connor Bitterman ’24 tours with Dallas Brass


From March 23 to April 1, Connor Bitterman ’24 played with the Dallas Brass in their Minnesota and Wisconsin tour. Founded in 1983, the Dallas Brass is a quintet that encourages middle and high school students to participate in chamber ensembles through performances and clinics. “If you have a dream out there, you gotta keep chasing it, and with the connections you make, you’ll never know how sudden things can change,” Bitterman said. “When I got the call in January, I was blown away. If you were to ask me when I was a senior in high school if that was going to happen, I’d say never in a million years.”

In January, Professor of Music and Conductor of Philharmonia Orchestra Martin Hodel, reached out to Bitterman in regards to performing with the Dallas Brass. After being accepted, Bitterman began the preparation process of learning and memorizing a 60-page binder of music within a month and a half before the tour began. “The people over at Dallas Brass were all very helpful,” Bitterman said. “They flew me out to their toured performance in Punta Gorda, Florida before the one I was supposed to perform with them. There, I got to watch the show in person, meet all the members, and had a weekend of rehearsing with them,” said Bitterman.

During the tour, the quintet performed at different schools with the student bands and led a clinic earlier in the day for the students. The theme for their show was “The American Journey” where the group’s performance ranged from “Yankee Doodle” and “Hail Columbus” to “Happy” and “Star Wars.” For Bitterman, the clinics were the highlight of the tour as he was given the opportunity to connect with the students and their school. “Three years ago, I was in some of those students’ shoes — just graduating high school and getting ready to move on to the next stage of our lives,” Bitterman said. 

As a music performance major, Bitterman is an active member of the St. Olaf Music Department where he participates in Jazz I, St. Olaf Orchestra, St. Olaf Band, a brass quintet, and Synergy Musicians Collective — a completely student-led organization striving to create more opportunities for student musicians in performing, conducting, and composition. Growing up in a musically-inclined family, with music directors as parents, Bitterman always knew music was going to be his path. 

What drove him to pursue music performance was a Chuck Lazarus show, “Merry and Bright,” that he attended in middle school. “Seeing him play trumpet, I just knew that was what I wanted to do,” Bitterman said. “So, a couple of months later, I picked up the trumpet in middle school band, and I kept hacking away at it. For me, ever since that performance, I knew that’s what I wanted to do, and I’ve never shied away from it.”  

Traveling with the Dallas Brass was a surreal experience for Bitterman. “It truly is crazy to even think that I even played with them because my dream is to be a performer, and there are a lot of members that were formerly a part of the group who’ve gone on to do incredible things,” Bitterman said.

In the future, he hopes to attend graduate school on the East Coast where he will continue making connections and preparing for auditions. 

On May 8, Bitterman will be playing in one more tour with the Dallas Brass in Kansas City, Mo. and Topeka, Kan.

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