Miriam Burns, Artistic Director/Conductor of the Paragon Philharmonia, Visiting Professor and Director of Orchestras at Ohio State University

Sean Kennard, piano, Faculty and Piano Chair, Stetson University

Stephen Tavani, violin, Assistant Concertmaster, Cleveland Orchestra

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John Kasica

John joined the St. Louis Symphony percussion section in 1971 and performed under five music directors –Susskind, Semkov, Slatkin, Vonk and David Robertson. John has had the honor of being a part of the seven Grammy Awards won by the Orchestra. A native of Clifton, NJ, John received his Bachelor of Music from the Juilliard School of Music. His teachers include Saul Goodman, Elden “Buster” Bailey, David Friedman, Ted Reed, Arnold Lang, George Gabor, and Walter Rosenberger.

In 1976, John made his solo percussion debut playing the Tircuit Percussion Concerto at the Mississippi River Festival and performed the same work with the Orchestra on their Midwest tour the following year. In 1986, John was featured as a soloist at NHK Hall in Tokyo on the STL Symphony’s Far East Tour, performing Minoru Miki’s Marimba Concerto. In 1990, John made his Carnegie Hall solo debut playing Bartok’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion with the Labèque Sisters and colleague Richard Holmes. He also performed the Schwantner Percussion Concerto many times with the St. Louis Symphony, and with the Delaware Symphony and at the Cabrillo Contemporary Music Festival. John has also played in the Aspen and Grand Teton Music Festivals, and the Masterworks Festivals England, China and USA. He was a xylophone soloist and accordion soloist, part of the Amazing Accordion Aces, with the late Richard Hayman at the Saint Louis County Pops.

As a chamber music soloist, John has appeared with the Music Aeterna in New York City, Suzuki and Friends in Indianapolis, Da Camera in Houston, and as a percussionist in the Summit Brass, as well as Chamber Music of St. Louis. As a teacher and clinician, John has taught at Juilliard, Eastman, Mannes, DePaul University, University of Kentucky, Florida State University and many other schools. In Saint Louis, John has been on the faculty of Webster, Maryville, and Missouri Baptist Universities, UMSL, and the Saint Louis Conservatory of Music. His students have gone on to play in the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Palermo (Italy) Opera, Johannesburg (South Africa) Symphony, and the Shreveport, North Carolina, Birmingham, and Louisville Symphony orchestras. John currently has students in the U.S. Marine, Army (Pershing’s Own) and Navy Bands.

John and his wife of 44 years, Paula (a flutist) perform together as WINDFIRE: Flute & Percussion Spectacular in chamber concert recitals. In 2003 and 2004, WINDFIRE performed throughout England and in 2006 won the Chamber Music Competition at the National Flute Convention. John and Paula performed and taught in China as part of the Central China International Music Festival for the past four years.

John attributes the blessing on his life and his success to God’s great grace – to God be the Glory!