Southeast Alumnus Working with St. Louis Symphony

Photo of Timothy Weddle Southeast Missouri State University alumnus Timothy Weddle of Jefferson City, Missouri, has recently been hired as the St. Louis Symphony’s “first call substitute.”

Weddle studies with the principal bass regularly and says getting to play with him and the bass section will be an honor.

Weddle also maintains a position as principal with the Orchestra Iowa after beginning as a section player, working his way to solos and marking the bowings before upcoming concerts.

“The funny thing is, I never actually considered going after principal positions, but I always ended up doing better at those auditions than at section auditions,” Timothy says.

He says he has gained a lot of experience, including earning a section position in Memphis.

“Winning the section position with Memphis meant a lot because the music director was Mei-Ann Chen. She’s a huge force in the classical conducting world. She guest conducts all of the major symphonies in America, including the Chicago Symphony. It’s quite an honor to work under her,” Timothy says.

Music has been central to his life for many years, he said.

“When I was young, I loved the electric bass and had a few bands in high school. Along with rock music, I played bass in jazz band and also baritone saxophone in our ‘top jazz’ group. I played alto saxophone in marching band all four years of high school, as well as in jazz ensembles. Not having a lot of experience with the double bass, I decided to try the music program. I never really excelled in academics. I mean, I did the work and got good grades, but playing the bass came so natural that I had no choice but to work towards that path,” Timothy says.

One of his most memorable moments performing comes from playing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Kansas City Symphony. He was playing with friends from school, and he had a massive choir behind him.

He continues to strive to improve himself as a musician.

“My focus is the relentless pursuit of perfection. No one achieves perfection, but like Vince Lombardi said, ‘Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.’ The reason I’m focusing on this is because the classical music world, from day one, teaches you to play things perfectly. That’s your aim. Of course, we make mistakes. Professionals make mistakes. It’s in our nature. But the pressure to play with perfection is so high, you have to train that way. I’m aiming for a full-time position with a major symphony. As competitive as it is in this industry, I have no choice if I want to move up the ladder,” he says.

Timothy graduated from Southeast in 2006 with a Bachelor of Music in music performance. He pursued a master’s degree at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music but then decided to change his degree to a performer’s diploma. In addition, he studied with the principal bass emeritus of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Bruce Bransby.

“I chose Southeast because of its location and its impressive music staff. Every faculty member had a pretty incredible musical past, so I thought that with all the state schools to choose from, and where I was in my development that Southeast would be the best choice. Also, it wasn’t too far from home, which was important; I’ve always been close with my family. We like to visit each other as often as possible,” Timothy says.

In addition, working with the professors at Southeast helped develop Timothy’s natural skills.

“Southeast has taught me patience. When I started at Southeast, I hadn’t studied double bass before. I mean, I’ve plucked one and pretended to get around on it, but never with a teacher. They took me in as a Bachelor of Arts major and worked with me very diligently and patiently. I wouldn’t be where I am now if they didn’t take the time to develop my natural abilities. And because of their patience, I myself have become patient in my teachings,” he says.

Activities he enjoys include weight lifting, board games, card games, cooking and movies. He says resistance training is good for the body as muscles start to break down and decrease. He says, “If I don’t combat that with weight training and other exercises, I know I will become weak. It’s also a stress reliever. It helps get my mind away from music. I, like most other professionals, have a pretty well balanced life. On one hand, you have the dedicated musician, and on the other you have completely different activities you engage in to escape. This is true for anything or anyone. Everyone needs some sort of a hobby.”

Timothy offers the following advice to Southeast students.

“This has become cliché, but do what makes you happy,” Timothy says. “Go find a job that helps you be a better person. I believe with happier, and more balanced citizens, we will have a stronger society, fewer health issues, and most importantly, a generation future generations can be proud of.”