By Capt. Robert Taylor | Idaho National GuardJuly 22, 2019
BOISE, Idaho - There's an old joke that a couple on a New York City street once asked legendary classical violinist Jascha Heifetz how to get to Carnegie Hall. Without missing a beat or looking up, he replied with, "practice, practice, practice."
After decades of practice, Idaho Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Micah Strasser found his way to the prestigious concert hall last week where he performed with the Millennial Orchestra July 12.
"It's the number one recognized music venue in the country," Strasser said. "As a musician, there's a no bigger venue to play. It wasn't on my bucket list, but it's far beyond my expectations as a musician."
Strasser played in the Idaho Army National Guard's 25th Army Band for 23 years until he left the band to become a signal warrant officer in 2017. He joined the Treasure Valley branch of the Millennial Choirs and Orchestras in 2015 because he wanted to keep playing.
"Music's always been a part of me," he said. "I like the creation of it and the group effort it takes."
Strasser got into music when he was in middle school after he saw his uncle on TV playing the clarinet during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Strasser also played the clarinet but often found himself looking behind him to the band's percussion section.
He said he was always drawn to the percussion instruments and tried out for the drumline entering high school. He has played percussion since and currently plays the timpani for the orchestra. A timpani is a kettledrum that provides bass to the orchestra as well as pitch, which drummers adjust using a foot pedal throughout the performance.
Strasser played the timpani during his performance at Carnegie Hall. The Millennial Choirs and Orchestras play primarily classical music and is spread out in five states. More than 3000 members from multiple locations performed in New York City together over three separate performances.
"The music, which was religious in nature, was very powerful and brought the audience to its feet multiple times," Strasser said. "It wasn't even ever a thought in my mind that I would end up performing there someday, but I am so thankful I got the opportunity to do so."
Before becoming a warrant officer, Strasser was a sergeant first class and the band's rock band noncommissioned officer in charge. He was also the 25th Army Band's audio engineer.
"Every time you get a new piece of music in front of you, you're using your brain a lot," he said. "Then in performance, you've got the pressure of all that going on. It's an adrenaline rush when you're playing something for an audience."
In addition to playing in the Millennial Orchestra, Strasser also plays in seasonal orchestras in the Treasure Valley and played in the Boise State University's Blue Thunder Marching Band for two years in college. During halftime of the team's 1998 game against Utah State, Strasser proposed to his wife on the school's famed blue turf.
In addition to playing in New York City Friday, Strasser and his wife spent a week in the city to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary.