FORT MYERS, Fla. (Sept. 12, 2023) – The Southwest Florida Symphony, Lee County’s only professional orchestra and the fourth oldest in the state, is excited to welcome four talented new section musicians for the 2023-24 concert season. Following national auditions held this spring, Joshua (JJ) Sechan, principal bassoon; Chase Farrell, second trombone; Austin Pancner, third/bass trombone; and Cory Kirby, third horn, have been selected to join the symphony.
“We are always thrilled to welcome exceptional new musicians to our ranks,” said Amy Ginsburg, executive director of the Southwest Florida Symphony. “We are truly dedicated to recruiting musicians who have studied at the world’s most prestigious conservatories and watching them flourish under Maestro Radu Paponiu’s leadership. Our team works hard each season to ensure, as our patrons only access point for professional orchestral music, we deliver the best and brightest talent possible.”
Sechan has a diverse career as a musician, radio host and educator. He began playing the bassoon in high school and went on to receive a bachelor of music degree from The Juilliard School, studying with Judith LeClair, as well as an artist diploma from Oberlin Conservatory as a student of George Sakakeeny. Before moving to Florida, Sechan performed throughout Colorado as principal bassoon with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic and Boulder Philharmonic and continues to perform with the Opera Colorado Orchestra. Recent performances include a tour to the Kennedy Center for the Shift Festival of American Orchestras and solo appearances with the Boulder Philharmonic and the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs. In addition to performing, Sechan teaches bassoon at middle and high schools throughout central Florida and created a nonprofit chamber music program for adult amateur musicians called Alpenglow Music Program. He also produces and hosts public radio at Classical KCME.
Farrell is currently pursuing his master’s degree at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music in the studio of Allen Barnhill. He received his bachelor of music degree with a performer’s certificate in 2023 from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied under Larry Zalkind. Farrell has performed with The Florida Orchestra and Symphoria in Syracuse, as well as being a member of the American Institute for Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. He has also performed in master classes for Joe Alessi, Scott Hartman and Steve Lange.
Pancner has a multifaceted career as a performer, educator, and health and wellness professional. He has performed with ensembles such as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. He won the IWBC Bass Trombone Division 2 Solo Competition in 2022, was named runner up in the Indianapolis Musicale Matinee Solo Competition in 2020 and was an American Trombone Workshop Finalist in 2018. Pancner regularly presents at festivals such as The International Trombone Festival and the International Women’s Brass Conference. He has also given over 30 masterclasses and workshops at various schools across the country including Vanderbilt University, Indiana University, DePaul University and Rutgers University. Pancner is the founder of The Functional Musician, an online coaching company that helps musicians live and perform without pain through injury prevention and recovery programs. His recovery program has helped over 60 musicians worldwide and continues to impact the music community. Pancner earned a performers diploma and master’s degree from Indiana University, a bachelor’s degree from Carthage College and is currently completing the final steps of his doctoral degree.
Kirby was born and raised in Muncie, Indiana, where he received a bachelor of music degree in music performance from Ball State University studying with Professor Gene Berger. During his time at Ball State, Kirby spent his time freelancing in Central Indiana playing horn as well as bass, while also working in educational outreach with the Muncie Symphony Orchestra. In 2018, Kirby was one of the founding members of the Deaf Cat Horn Quartet, which went on to travel to the 51st International Horn Symposium in Ghent, Belgium, to compete in the quartet competition and to present a lecture recital on beginner chamber music for the horn. More recently, he relocated to Tallahassee to study with Professor Michelle Stebleton at Florida State University where, in May of 2023, he earned his master of music in brass performance. Kirby continues to play and teach horn in Florida, serving as a substitute in the Tallahassee Symphony, the Panama City Symphony, as well as the Valdosta Symphony in Georgia.
The Southwest Florida Symphony made its debut as a community orchestra on April 15, 1961, playing in schools and community centers, with a roster of only 24 volunteer musicians. Today, the symphony boasts a roster of 70 world-class professional musicians and is Lee County’s only fully professional orchestra and fourth oldest in the state. The Southwest Florida Symphony’s 63rd year continues the orchestra’s tradition of artistic excellence and innovation as Music Director Maestro Radu Paponiu leads another season of spectacular performances. Maestro Paponiu, the sixth music director in the organization’s history, also serves as the associate conductor and youth orchestra director for the Naples Philharmonic in addition to guest-conducting with orchestras throughout the United States and Europe.
For more information about the Southwest Florida Symphony, upcoming season performances and subscription and ticketing information, visit swflso.org or call 239-418-1500.