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Meet the newest members of the Kansas City Symphony

A collage of ten musicians.
Courtesy of artists
Kansas City Symphony
Meet the newest members of the Kansas City Symphony.

Classical KC takes you backstage at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts as we get to know the new members of the Kansas City Symphony. Hear about how they got started, their path to Kansas City and inspirational moments.

Jun Iwasaki and Autumn Chodorowski
Get to know concertmaster Jun Iwasaki and second violin Autumn Chodorowski
Concertmaster Jun Iwasaki and second violinist Autumn Chodorowski.

New Kansas City Symphony concertmaster Jun Iwasaki was most recently concertmaster for the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. He has acted as concertmaster for the Oregon, Pittsburgh and Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestras, and his musical roots can be traced back to his parents: both musicians.

Autumn Chodorowski, new second violinist, also had musical role models in her life. Growing up near Chicago, being able to access great performances from ensembles like the Chicago Symphony encouraged her passion for classical music.

Matthew Lengas and Jahleel Smith
Get to know oboe and English horn player Matthew Lengas and new bass trombonist Jahleel Smith
Kansas City Symphony English horn player Matthew Lengas and bass trombonist Jahleel Smith.

After time with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, Jahleel Smith is joining the Kansas City Symphony as the bass trombonist. Although trombone was not his first (or second) choice of instrument, it didn't take long for him to fall in love with it, aided by a performance of Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 8.

Matthew Lengas is the new English horn and utility oboe player for the Kansas City Symphony. He discovered the oboe through an unlikely source: a VHS tape of a Moody Blues concert. Although as a Wisconsin native he's a Packers fan, he's excited to explore all that Kansas City has to offer in terms of sports, entertainment, and nature.

Nils Aardahl and Julius Adams
Get to know violist Julius Adams and bassist Nils Aardahl
Bassist Nils Aardahl and violist Julius Adams

As a kid growing up in Chicago, Julius Adams didn’t see himself as a violist, but once he got one in his hands, his love for the instrument blossomed quickly. Living in Chicago also afforded Julius the opportunity to hear the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at an early age.

New symphony bassist Nils Aardahl hails from Bismarck, North Dakota, where his father exposed him to a diverse world of music. He eventually got to perform with his percussionist father in their local orchestra.

Michael Brown and Sodam Lim
Get to know violinists Sodam Lim and Michael Brown
Second violinst Sodam Lim and first violinist Michael Brown.

When he was 3 years old, Houston native Michael Brown wanted a violin so badly that his parents turned to arts and crafts and made one out of a toilet paper roll and string to avoid tantrums. Eventually, he got a real one and has found success, landing a position in the Kansas City Symphony's first violin section.

Seoul, South Korea native Sodam Lim, a new member of the second violins, has played with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and New World Symphony orchestras. She found a helping hand from fellow New World Symphony alums upon moving to Kansas City.

George Goad and MingYu Hsu
Get to know new principal violist MingYu Hsu and third/utility trumpet player George Goad
Third and utility trumpet George Goad and principal violist MingYu Hsu.

At first, new principal violist MingYu Hsu wanted to play the cello, but fell in love with the singing quality of the viola. In her native Taiwan, she heard a masterclass performance by the viola teacher at the Curtis Institute of music in Philadelphia which inspired her to move to Philadelphia to study at the school.

As the new third/utility trumpet player, Michigan native George Goad says he has to be "ready for anything." He loves discovering great classical recordings on the radio and making requests for big brassy works from composers like Gustav Mahler and Dmitri Shostakovich.

Sam Wisman is a Senior Producer for 91.9 Classical KC and a backup announcer for KCUR 89.3. Email him at
Brooke Knoll is the digital audience specialist and afternoon host for Classical KC. You can reach her at