By Judy Berthiaume, UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
A UW-Eau Claire freshman trumpet player — Dawson Redenius — is the youngest member of pianist Lorie Line’s Pop Chamber Orchestra.
He is currently on the road with Line’s annual holiday tour, performing multiple nights a week at venues throughout the Midwest. The popular entertainer’s show, “King of Kings,” will make a stop at Eau Claire’s State Theatre on Saturday night (Nov. 25).
Home Page Photo: Dawson Redenius performed during the “52nd Street” event at last April’s Eau Claire Jazz Festival. A high school senior at the time, Redenius performed with the Fort Atkinson High School jazz band. (Photo by Marisa Wojcik, Eau Claire Leader-Telegram. Used with permission.)
Redenius, a music education major from Fort Atkinson, was just weeks into his UW-EC college career when Robert Baca, the university’s director of jazz studies, connected him with Line, a long-time friend.
“Lorie mentioned they were putting a trumpet player in the orchestra again and described what they were looking for,” said Baca, who played in Line’s orchestra about 10 years ago.
“These characteristics matched perfectly with a new freshman whom I had barely known for three weeks. However, during that short time, Dawson not only exhibited the characteristics she needed for her show, but he had the mind of a 40-year-old in a 19-year-old body as far as maturity and professionalism,” Baca added.
“I knew he could wade through the uncertainties and gray areas of a professional performing group.”
Redenius immediately proved him right.
“The test came when I told him of this opportunity, and that Lorie wanted him to travel to her house and audition with no preparation,” Baca said. “Dawson did just that. He told me from her living room, they exchanged phrases from her piano to his trumpet, with him immediately correcting himself from her musical nuance suggestions.
He Got the Gig
“While the audition was going on, she was talking about the tour schedule and his uniform. At one point he said, ‘Did I get the gig?’ She hurriedly replied, ‘Yes,’ and went on with the details.”
Redenius was in a practice room in Haas Fine Arts Center when he got the call from Baca offering him the opportunity to audition with Line. The catch? He had to be to Line’s Lake Minnetonka home studio in 12 hours for the audition.
“To be honest, I didn’t know who Lorie Line was at the time,” Redenius said. “All I knew was what Mr. Baca educated me on, which was that she is a BIG deal.”
Redenius said he was “panicking with excitement” as he pulled into the entertainer’s driveway. After just a few minutes, the nerves disappeared as Line met him in the driveway with a warm and sincere welcome.
A few songs later, Line began talking with him about tour life and her expectations of him. Redenius quickly signed on and then began figuring out how to balance this opportunity with the demands of school.
Making It Work
“The next three weeks, I prepared for the show,” Redenius said. “I had many meetings with my professors to talk about how we could make this work. With help from Mr. Baca, we found solutions to everything.
“I have received an incredible amount of support from all of my professors, peers and family.”
Rehearsals began in early November, requiring him to drive to Minnesota every day for a couple of weeks. Once performances started, he stayed part of the time in Minnesota with other orchestra members.
“We learned and memorized the show quickly,” Redenius said. “We got to test ourselves by performing for close friends and super fans in Lorie’s living room. Those audiences consisted of 40-50 people each night.”
Redenius said the tour “is an amazing opportunity to perform with musicians of an extremely high caliber. The fact that they are all great people is the cherry on the top. I couldn’t have hoped for a better group of people to create music with.”
While he is new to Line’s Pop Chamber Orchestra, Redenius has had considerable experience touring and performing. He spent two years touring with the Kids from Wisconsin, one of the oldest and most beloved touring performance groups in the state.
Although he is only a first semester Blugold, Redenius already is part of several UW-EC jazz combos. He performs with multiple ensembles and is also a member of the Blugold Marching Band. He performed previously with the UW-Milwaukee Youth Jazz Ensemble and the Madison College Jazz Ensemble.