On August 26, 2019, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO) and Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues announced the winner of their third annual National Anthem contest. After 250 initial submissions and live auditions by 25 acts at Powell Hall on August 24, a panel of judges selected a quartet of high school trombone players to perform The Star-Spangled Banner at a Blues home game during the 2019-2020 season.
The quartet competed against dozens of contestants from the St. Louis region and was commended by judges for their original Blues-inspired rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner, arranged by 15-year-old Thomas Gustafson. The quartet consists of Gustafson (10), Clayton High School; Daniel Jung (12), Ladue Horton Watkins High School; Geoffrey Ladue (12), Lafayette High School; and Evan Smith (12), O’Fallon Township High School. All four are members of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra.
“The talent we heard throughout the competition was staggering,” said Charles Glenn, former St. Louis Blues anthem singer. “Any one of the finalists could have gone to a larger market, auditioned, and won. The level of competition was unparalleled.”
The audition was part of an ongoing partnership between the SLSO and Blues. Vocalists, instrumentalists, and small groups competed for the opportunity. Former Blues National Anthem Singer Charles Glenn; SLSO IN UNISON Chorus Director Kevin McBeth; SLSO musician Gerry Pagano; Kennedy Holmes, St. Louis native and finalist on season 15 of NBC’s The Voice; and James Bertels, who was a winner of the inaugural contest in 2017-2018, judged the competition.
The quartet will perform the anthem at an upcoming St. Louis Blues game.