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Musicians From Pitt State to be Featured on PBS 

Curtis Meyer, Reporter 

Two musicians from Pittsburg will be featured in a nationally syndicated PBS show, featuring the Springfield Symphony Orchestra from Springfield, MO. 

PSU professor Robert Kehle and graduate student Jonathan DeSoto Jr both performed earlier this year with the Springfield Orchestra, with the performance being shown on Ozarks Public Television Oct. 6th and 9th.   

“I’m a regular member with the symphony, with Springfield Symphony, and I play principal trombone with the group that was hired to do backup, and I mean it was a lot of fun. I think that it’ll be entertaining,” said Kehle.  

The show, titled “An Ozark Mountain Symphony: A Musical Celebration,” was recorded at the Butterfly Mansion in Branson, MO, in front of a live audience.  

“Essentially it was getting a group of performers together and playing music across wide varieties of genres, from gospel to country and what the goal was of this symphony was to present music that would kind of bring people together in a sense. My role in it was playing principal tuba with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra,” said DeSoto. 

Filming for the performance took 3 days, with three different takes. The day it’ll be released for national television is unannounced.  

“It’s quite an experience to do that you know, I look forward to watching the video myself. Just playing professionally, playing with a group as good as the Springfield Symphony is always an honor. As long as I’ve been performing you don’t come upon many times that I get to play professionally with a group like that. Always getting a opportunity to be called to play with a professional organization is always a gratifying experience,” said DeSoto. 

For both artists, this is an opportunity to play and affect a large audience. 

“It’s always neat. Whenever you do something like that it’s always neat. Hopefully when it gets syndicated a lot of other places will pick it up. I’ve got relatives that would like to see it,” said Kehle.  

The performance almost didn’t happen. The original idea was started several years ago, but when COVID-19 hit, it was canceled. The idea had to be brought back up again for this performance.  

“I think this idea probably started a couple of years ago with Gene Bicknell. Gene Bicknell was the executive producer of it. Of course, he’s from Pittsburg and he owned the mansion at the time. I think he had this idea to do this, and then COVID hit. So they resurrected it for post COVID. The symphony has quite often, every November, had a select small group play back up for Johnny Mathis, at the mansion. So, there was already this connection,” said Kehle.  

Those who are watching the program hoping to see Professor Kehle or DeSoto will need to keep their eyes peeled, as the full orchestra is around 60 players.  

“I had a camera pointed at me around 4 times. Of course, I’m interested, did I make the cutting floor or not?” said Kehle.  

“I had at least one, but like you said we’ll see whether it makes it on the cut,” said DeSoto.  

Whether they made the cut or not, both artists are excited to be on PBS and to represent Pittsburg. Hopefully the music will bring people together, as DeSoto mentioned.  

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