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Gene Pokorny

Gene Pokorny has been principal tuba of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1989. He also held principal tuba positions in the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Utah Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. While in Los Angeles, he played on the soundtracks to Jurassic Park, The Fugitive and other motion pictures.

He grew up in Downey, California, about a mile from where the Apollo command modules were built that first took humans to the moon, and studied tuba in the Los Angeles area with Jeffrey Reynolds, Larry Johansen, Tommy Johnson and Roger Bobo.

When Gene Pokorny isn’t counting rests in the back row of Orchestra Hall, he can be found teaching at music festivals and performing solo recitals worldwide. He has recorded several solo and educational discs, and assisted Rolling Stones trombonist Michael Davis in recording several educational workbook CDs. He received an Outstanding Alumnus Award from the University of Southern California and an honorary doctorate from the University of Redlands. He currently lectures and teaches at Roosevelt University, Northwestern University and the Pokorny Low Brass Seminar.

A member of the Union Pacific (Railroad) Historical Society, Gene Pokorny spends time as a “foamer,” watching and chasing trains. He is a card-carrying member of the Three Stooges Fan Club and an avid devotee of his good friend David “Red” Lehr, the greatest Dixieland sousaphonist in the known universe, who recently passed away in January 2021. He finds guidance in the overview of life through Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, passion in the music of composers Gerald Finzi and Giacomo Puccini, humility in Carl Sagan’s three-and-a-half minute video Pale Blue Dot, inspiration in listening to his fabulous colleagues onstage and perspective in all things through the basset hounds with whom he lives; they are always appreciative of a hug.

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