Alumni Feature

Connor Pietrzak – From Xavier Drum Major to National Broadway Tour

It starts with choosing a musical instrument to play in elementary school, then lessons in middle school. Parents cringe through the squeaky notes, endless practicing, middle school concerts that end in hugs, tears, and the inevitable videotape. Then, in high school, with the right mentor, the young musician receives the opportunity to become the best musician he or she can be. Maybe even live out their dream.

For Connor Pietrzak (’08), that instrument was a trumpet; the mentor was Mrs. Kate Hardt. And the dream?

Connor is currently playing trumpet on the first national Broadway tour of “Miss Saigon,” a long-term professional engagement for which he will be playing multiple shows a week in cities throughout the United States and Canada.

In an article published on the UW-Eau Claire website, Connor said, “I am so excited to live my dream. I love playing in pit orchestra and to play this book specifically, is very special. A career path like this is inevitably filled with uncertainty and lots of people who tell you how impossible it is to make a living playing trumpet.”

“I was fortunate to be (at Xavier High School) for four years,” he said. “It was a place that encouraged me to develop my talents and use them to serve God, rather than dismissing my gifts to go down a safer, more stable road.”

Connor credits Mrs. Hardt as one of his greatest mentors who encouraged him to follow what he loved to do. “She met me where I was at the time – a squirrely little 15-year old kid, and she made me believe I could pursue the trumpet. Mrs. Hardt, along with the many opportunities to perform at Xavier, like the fall musicals, KABOOM, various jazz ensemble concerts and festivals, and guest artist experiences added up to a rich musical high school experience that few can rival.”

As part of the “Miss Saigon” ensemble, he will play eight shows a week. “In the coming years, I’ll have performed in nearly every state and we never play in a city for less than a week, so I’ll have time to do a little exploring.” During a scheduled break from “Miss Saigon,” Connor is a member of the pit orchestra with the national tour of “ELF the Musical.” As he travels the country with the tour, he is completing coursework online so that he can graduate this month from UW-Eau Claire.