Meet the Musicians: Loren Marsteller

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Principal trombonist, Loren Marsteller, has been leading the big parade his entire life, blowing the horn, not just for major symphonies in America but also for momentous occasions in recent US history. Like many Cal Phil instrumentalists, Loren grew up around music. His father, a renowned brass player, was the principal trombonist for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. His sister Marlys, was a flute player and taught musical theater in her adult years. (Just to demonstrate the small world of music, as a teenager I studied musical theater with Loren's sister Marlys at Wildwood Music Camp. She taught me a piece of staging I use in professional productions to this day.) His parents started him on piano, at age 8. He then started playing baritone horn, but it was so big he couldn't hold it without putting it on a chair. So, at age 12 he switched to trombone, though he continued to branch out and today is known for playing a "myriad of exotic brass instruments" such as the euphonium, the alto trombone, the alphorn, the ophicleide (the lowest keyed bugle) and the Tibetan Temple Horn. In fact, on the latter, Loren made a major contribution to cinematic lore in the film Star Trek III during the scene where Spock is being resurrected. Crying through the arid landscape of Planet Vulcan, a whaling sound is heard. That's Loren on Tibetan Temple Horn. Loren even appeared on camera "sidelining" for his own recording as a small-town band in Saving Mr. Banks, with a cameo as the gentleman helping the young lead character up the bandstand stairs.

Of Maestro Victor Vener, Loren says that he's known him "forever!" Indeed, the two back to their teenage years, attending rival High Schools in the Pasadena area, but came together through The All City Honor Band, in which both of them played. After high school, Loren went on to major in trombone at USC, where he and Victor played in numerous ensembles together including the famed USC Marching Band. When Loren graduated from the University of Southern California, in 1968, he saw an audition for the "President's Own" United States Marine Corp Band. He flew to Washington DC, auditioned, and got the job. As it was the height of the Viet Nam War, Mr. Marsteller's first summer with the Corp was spent playing "Taps" for funerals at Arlington National Cemetery for Marine Officers. He also recalls playing for the funeral of President Dwight Eisenhower.

Truly, the Cal Phil's principal trombonist, Loren Marsteller has participated in a significant part of this nation's history. But not just for somber and tragic occasions. The "President's Own" Marine Corp Band played regular concerts on the East Side of the Capitol, and of course in the White House for arrivals and departures of dignitaries, patriotic openers, and ceremonial dinners such as the Correspondence Dinner. "It was an interesting time," Loren says of it somewhat nonchalantly, as if we all can relate to playing regularly for the world's most influential politicians and heads of state. One special experience which stands out for him, is when he went with President Nixon (whose inaugural parade he also played for) behind the Iron Curtain to then Yugoslavia. President Josip Boz Tito invited President Nixon to the State Palace in Belgrade for a party. Nixon, then hosted a reciprocal party for Tito in the Palace, which included a performance by His Own Band, of which, of course, Loren was a musician.

In 1976 Loren honorably discharged from the Marine Corp Band and returned to the City of Angels (via Canada, with a two-season stint with the Calgary Philharmonic) where he has been freelancing as a brass player ever since. He has played trombone with every major regional orchestra in Southern California including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Vancouver and San Diego Symphonies, the Long Beach, New West and Pacific Symphonies and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Xalapa (Mexico) He has also performed on tenor-tuba (euphonium) with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Diego, Hong Kong, Long Beach, Pacific, Vancouver and Baltimore Symphony Orchestras. While in the "Presidents Own", it being military, he always had to appear clean cut.

He got so tired of shaving several times a day, that once he entered civilian life he decided to never shave again, hence his en vogue long beard (proceeding the popularity of Duck Dynasty). A fellow trombone player, who also had a full beard, suggested Loren look into Santa Claus jobs in December. In the Variety Arts entertainment field, real beard Santa’s are worth their weight in gold, due to the fact that many kids will pull on the beard to see if Santa is "real". Loren has experienced such situations, and when the kids can pull his hair and beard they are reassured that Santa is in fact real. "Kids are so cute," Loren says delightedly. When they came running up to him yelling "Santa" and he saw the joy he could bring them he thought, "Man, this is the life. This is so cool."

Loren lives with his wife of 33 years, Samantha. Sam is a retired animal police and welfare officer for the SPCA, who had the important job of supervising a film production's treatment of animals. "The thing I like," Loren says about Victor and the Cal Phil, "is Victor is very loyal. He inspires a reciprocity. Musicians appreciate the work and to get to make music with great musicians around them." And of course, playing in Disney Hall is a perk. "Not every musician in LA gets that chance." Indeed, the California Philharmonic provides select opportunities for the SoCal community, for the musicians and the concert-goers alike.