Photo of Terrence Abernathy

Terrence Abernathy '15


  • Photo of Terrence AbernathySenior music education-instrumental emphasis major from St. Louis, Mo.

  • French horn player

  • Marching Bearcat Band, Concert Band, Purple Brass Quintet chamber ensemble
  • Performs with Saint Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra
  • Performs occasionally with the St. Louis Brass Band

Name any brass or woodwind instrument and chances are, Terrence Abernathy can play it. The multi-talented musician took up the clarinet in seventh grade, switched to the trumpet and eventually learned the French horn. “I can play the bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet, euphonium, trombone—anything you need me to play, I can get it done,” he says.

The mellow sounding horn is the aspiring conductor’s instrument of choice. “It has a certain royal-like quality to it,” says Terrence (T.J. to those who know him best). “I love the horn’s versatility. It can take over an entire orchestra but still blend with the quietest of the woodwind section. I love a challenge. When I heard it was the most difficult to master, I was ready to give it a shot.”

He favors no particular musical style or influence.

Quotation Graphic

The beautiful sounds musicians make influences me. We give music to a troubled world; that’s a huge responsibility.


Vocalist Brian Owens’ Marvin Gaye tribute concert at the Hettenhausen Center on Oct. 19 will be a special day for Terrence, as he will be presented a scholarship from the Symphony’s In Unison program. Owens manages the In Unison program for the Symphony. To encourage diversity in the arts, it offers scholarships for African-American college students to help with their instrumental, vocal and arts management study. Terrence will receive mentorship from Owens, occasional private lessons from Symphony musicians and special performance opportunities at Powell Hall in St. Louis.

Photo of Terrence AbernathyNo stranger to the Powell Hall stage, Terrence is a section leader and principal horn with the Saint Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. A former teacher encouraged him to audition for the group, made up of the bi-state region’s top young musicians ages 12 to 22.

“But it wasn’t until Thomas Jöstlien, associate principal horn in the Saint Louis Symphony, visited McKendree to give a master class and I was recognized. He urged me to audition and with a few lessons from him, I got in. It is a tremendous honor to walk out on stage at Powell Hall every week. The people I look up to use this very same stage. And THAT never gets old. It is very humbling.”

Terrence credits McKendree for “helping me grow as a person, as well as a musician.” What will he do after he graduates? “Conduct! Teach! Perform! Eventually I want to get my master’s and doctorate in conducting.”

Learn more about McKendree University and the Music program.