My name is Chris Hastreiter. I play Timpani and Percussion with the MFSO. I joined the orchestra in the Fall of 2013 when I moved to Milwaukee. I have performed in musical ensembles continuously since 8th grade, but the MFSO was my first orchestra since college. While in college, I played with the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra – principal timpanist for my last two years. Currently, I am also a member of the Knightwind Ensemble of Milwaukee and the South Milwaukee Municipal Band. Occasionally, I also get the opportunity to work with other Milwaukee area wind bands when they are short on percussionists.
My percussion studies started in 4th grade, and I play piano. In the last three years, I have dabbled with alto clarinet – though I’ve likely lost all my chops during the pandemic.
Professionally, I am an electrical engineer at Eaton Corporation in the Switchgear Products Division where I design recloser controls. (Reclosers and the other associated products made by Eaton’s Power Systems Group are the devices you see hanging on utility poles.)
Beyond playing music, my hobbies include water skiing, alpine skiing, electronic design and repair – specifically audio equipment and amplifiers, and working on my hobby-car – a 1981 DeLorean. As for other parts of my life, I read a little of everything from engineering textbooks to theology to novels (think Tom Clancy), I enjoy cooking and trying new foods, and I direct the Handbell Choir at my Lutheran Church.
When listening to music, 1960’s-70’s rock is my primary background music, but you will catch me listening to just about anything from Bach to today. In the realm of classical music, I tend to gravitate toward pieces that I have dug into and performed. The amount of mental dedication involved in learning and performing a work enhances the listening experience.
The MFSO provides for me a creative right-brain activity and an escape from spending my days thoroughly entrenched in the left-brain world of engineering. It offers mental balance, a reset, and a refreshing contrast to my work and other hobbies.
When I recall some of the concerts I have done, one favorite concert moment was when we played Fanfare for the Common Man by Aaron Copland. I had a couple little boys sitting in front of me on stage that practically jumped out of their seats when I played. (They were totally enthralled during the rest of the piece!) I don’t recall the piece we played immediately afterwards, but it was highly contrasting in nature – quiet and melodic. As I prepared for my entrance, the boys, who were still watching intently, frantically covered their ears. They were quite surprised to find that I could play quietly as well!
I have continuously played in music ensembles year-round since 8th grade – sometimes up to 5 groups at a time. This year-long break starting March, 2020 is the longest I’ve ever gone without a performance. I greatly look forward to returning to the MFSO soon!