Alumni Q&A with Leonard Meirson

[Originally posted by Josh Yarden at AllCityPhiladelphia.org, February 22nd, 2017]

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All City Alum, Leonard Meirson played principal trumpet in the All City Orchestra and Band, Philadelphia Sinfonia, and he was a Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) All-State musician. Leonard has ‘gone off to college,’ but it was easy to track him down. He moved just across the Schuylkill River, to Drexel University, where he is majoring in Entertainment and Arts Management.

Q: So, Leonard, how’s it going at Drexel?

A: So far it’s everything that I hoped college would be: It has a very social atmosphere, with lots of clubs and engaging classes that help prepare you for your intended career. In my first term I participated in Concert Band with Dr. Broadnax, who conducted All-City Concert Band for three years. Now, in my second term, I have also joined the University Orchestra and Jazz Orchestra.

How did you choose your major?

It’s funny, I never really considered Drexel until my senior year. Then I found out that Drexel was one of the only schools in the country that offered arts management as a major. It suddenly hit the number one spot on my college list. It is a terrific major that teaches you every bit of the industry, from concert touring and artist management, to museum and sports management. The major is incredibly broad, but you can take the knowledge from one area and easily apply it to many others. My intended focus is performing arts management.

Do you ever think back on your All City experiences?

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about All City. It was such a great program and I don’t think I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for All City, which was my first high level orchestra. I remember how nervous I was as a sophomore, seated behind three very talented trumpet players. I had never played music as challenging as Finlandia and Lincoln Portrait. All City pushed me to work hard to become a better trumpet player.

Did All City help prepare you for college? 

Not only did All City prepare me for college, but it actually helped me figure out what I want do in life. I want to go into orchestral management, with the goal of someday becoming the CEO of a professional orchestra. All City helped me realize this by revealing how much I truly love orchestras and classical music. I might have gone into trumpet performance, but I realized that I want to combine my love for classical music with my academic abilities and make a career out of that.

Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew then?

I wish I knew not to push myself too hard on the trumpet. This sounds pretty counterintuitive, but I pushed myself so hard in my senior year that my lips actually payed the price. I was participating in all of Masterman’s music ensembles, All City band and orchestra, and I was (and still am) in Philadelphia Sinfonia Youth Orchestra. I also played in PMEA Districts, Regions, and State bands. My lips couldn’t keep up with all of that, so I started to use more pressure and ended up damaging the tissue in my lip. If I had known that that could happen, I would have either practiced a whole lot more, or I would have taken it a bit easier in rehearsals and concerts. Although my lip still is not what it used to be, I have been able to work on my musicality, and I still love playing trumpet!

Is there any particular highlight of your All City experience that stands out in your memory?

Every All City musician from 2015 who participated the Italy concert tour will probably tell you the same thing. That was the greatest highlight of our All-City years. It was the most amazing trip I have ever been on. I was ecstatic when I read the email that All City might be going on tour in Italy. I had never been out of the United States and Canada. Before I knew it, we were heading to Rome. I loved every minute of the rich culture, the amazing food, playing music outside under the setting sun and the night sky. The trip was so meaningful… I’m actually having trouble putting my feelings into words right now. Everything about it was surreal, and I will never forget it.   

Any recommendations for musicians who might want to go into arts management?

Start making connections right now. Arts Management is all about networking. The more people you know, the more job opportunities you will create for yourself in the future. Even if you are interested in rap or jazz, make connections in the classical world too. As I said, skills you learn for one area of the arts can easily be applied to other areas. Knowing lots of people can help ensure greater job security in the future.

One more thing – Any All-City musicians considering Drexel University should look into the Liberty Scholarship. It is a full tuition scholarship that Drexel gives to fifty Philadelphia high school students each year. I would highly recommend applying for it.

Thank you, Leonard. Will we see you at the Kimmel Center for the All City festival concert on the evening of March 8th?

I wouldn’t miss it!

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