The Trombone Players

Chris KoepkeChris Koepke - Trombone

Chris loves playing in the Olney Big Band because the band loves the music so much. The gigs are a blast for the musicians, dancers, and listeners. He was born in Plymouth, Michigan in the Detroit area. His formative years (the 1970s) were spent growing up in Michigan playing with the Plymouth Centennial Park High School Symphonic, Jazz, and Marching bands. Because of the great program in Plymouth, Chris had the honor of playing at the Midwestern Band and Orchestra Conference and also to be part of the band that won First Prize at the Ohio State University Jazz Festival.

During those years, Chris also played lots of Sousa Marches with the Plymouth Community Band and many wind symphony compositions with the University of Michigan Youth Band, and the All-State Band at Interlochen. If you’re looking for a great summer vacation where you get to hear fabulous young musicians, Chris recommends heading to Northern Michigan and stopping by the National Music Camp at Interlochen.

Chris has since played in multiple groups at Michigan State University, a fusion band headed by Michael Mills in New Haven Connecticut, the University of Pennsylvania Jazz Band, and several big jazz bands in the Baltimore area, including the Columbia Jazz Band. If you want to listen to some great accessible jazz that occasionally features the trombone, Chris recommends: 1) any of Toshiko Akiyoshi’s big band/orchestra CDs, if you can find Tales of a Courtesan, definitely get it; 2) anything by Steve Turre, he has great musical sensitivity; and 3) Conrad Herwig’s The Latin Side of Miles.

Chris has a bachelors from Michigan State University and a Masters and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in Communications. he directs communication research and ad campaigns for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which runs the Medicare and Medicaid programs for the United States government. He’s happily married and has one daughter.

Amato StellatoAmato Stellato - Trombone

Raised in the small town of Carle Place, NY, Amato started playing trombone in the 3rd grade and was fortunate to be involved with one of the best school music programs on Long Island. During these school years, Amato was a member of the marching band, orchestra, stage band, concert band, and various small ensembles. His “stage” band played big band music and that was when he became hooked on the Big Band Sound.

Amato went on to graduate from the University of Maryland and played in the marching band for a short time.  Many years past, but he was always inspired by the band when attending the Redskins games and was amazed that the Washington Redskins had the only Pro Football Marching Band at that time.  It was then that he decided to “pick” up the trombone again in hopes of being accepted some day as a member of the ‘Redskins’ Band.

In 2004, Amato joined the Olney Concert Band which led to being a member of the Rockville Concert Band, Rockville Swing Band, Montgomery Philharmonic, and the Olney Big Band.

He also played in the National Community Concert Band Sousa Festival that involved over 6 community bands from across the country and performed at the Jefferson Memorial. Amato also played in several Orchestra pits for community theater groups in the local area. More recently, he participated as one of the musicians of the Rusty Musicians Orchestra that performed with members of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Marin Alsop.

Doug Rogers -

Todd SahlrootTodd Sahlroot - Trombone

Born in Illinois, Todd moved to Maryland at age 12. He initially began trumpet studies in Montgomery County’s public schools, joining the Montgomery County Concert Band in his sophomore year. In the summer of 1972, he toured Europe for several weeks performing with the concert band in Germany, England, France and Luxembourg. In his senior year , he segued to the Montgomery County Jazz Band; jazz having won out over the concert hall. Then during his college years he spent two very enjoyable summers with a 4-piece combo at resorts in Wisconsin.

After a dozen years at the trumpet, Todd says he saw the light and switched to trombone. While he practiced slide technique at home, he eased his transition by playing valve trombone and euphonium with the University of Maryland Concert Band. After graduation, he pursued graduate work at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. At that time he continued working on the slide trombone honing his skills and playing with the George Gee Make Believe Ballroom Orchestra, at that time a student-run band that played for weddings, dances, concerts and the occasional radio show in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. George Gee went on to found the George Gee Swing Band, a highly successful organization based in Manhattan.

Later on Todd improved his trombone skills studying jazz improvisation with Randy Purcell, Maynard Ferguson’s lead trombonist. In 1985 he returned to Maryland and began studies with Donald S. Reinhardt, a well-known brass teacher in Philadelphia. He also performed with the pit orchestra at the Harlequin Dinner Theater for Sugar Babies, 42nd Street, and Camelot.

Over the years he has played with a numerous local bands in the D.C. metropolitan area. In addition to joining the Olney Big Band in 2011, he has been a member of the Richard Bray Orchestra and combo since 1985. Currently he works as a statistician for the Food and Drug Administration in Silver Spring, Maryland