Interview with Italian Trumpeter, Marco Vicario (in Italian and English)

with Michael Sachs

Marco Vicario with Michael Sachs

Marco Vicario è nato a Siracusa (Sicilia, Italia) nel 1985 si diploma in tromba nel 2006 l’Istituto Musicale “V. Bellini” di Caltanissetta sotto la guida del M° Claudio Salonia. 

Ha partecipato a numerosi masterclass di perfezionamento e lezioni con i docenti: Vincent Penzarella, Michael Sachs, Tage Larsen, John Hagstrom, Robert Sullivan, Raymond Riccomini, Rex Martin, Gabor Tarkövi, Roger Webster, Claudio Gironacci, e molti altri. 

Dal 1997 al 2005 è stato prima tromba dell’Orchestra di Fiati Karl Orff di Priolo Gargallo diretta dal M° Salvatore Tralongo, Vice Maestro Concetta Vicario e presieduta da Pippo Vicario con la quale ha vinto cinque primi premi in concorsi nazionali e con la stessa ha inciso un CD dal titolo Dialoghi.
Da Dicembre 2005 al Dicembre 2006 ha effettuato il servizio militare presso la Banda Nazionale dell’Esercito Italiano di Roma collaborando come musicista sotto la direzione del Mº Fluvio Creux. 
Dall’ottobre del 2006 ottiene le idoneità presso l’orchestra Giovanile Italiana di Fiesole, l’Orchestra Sinfonica di Savona, l’orchestra dell’istituto musicale “V. Bellini” di Catania. 
Inizia a collaborare con l’orchestra del Teatro San Carlo di Napoli nel novembre del 2007, nel Maggio del 2009 risulta terzo idoneo, nell’Aprile del 2012 primo idoneo e vi collabora tutt’ora. È stato nominato Commissario esterno per gli esami di compimento inferiore e diploma di tromba e trombone al Conservatorio di Musica di Stato “A. Scontrino” di Trapani nella sessione estiva e autunnale dell’anno 2009. 
Nell’ottobre 2009 risulta secondo idoneo presso l’orchestra del teatro lirico di Cagliari e primo idoneo nell’anno successivo. Nell’Estate del 2011 collabora con l’orchestra

Brass section of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (Florence). L-R back row, Simone Squarzolo, Marco Crusca, Emanuele Antoniucci, Andrea d'Amico, Marco Vicario, Claudio Quintavalla, and, in front, Fabiano Fiorenzani.

Brass section of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (Florence). L-R back row, Simone Squarzolo, Marco Crusca, Emanuele Antoniucci, Andrea d’Amico, Marco Vicario, Claudio Quintavalla, and, in front, Fabiano Fiorenzani.

Sinfonica Siciliana di Palermo. Nel giugno 2012 risulta secondo idoneo presso l’orchestra del Teatro Alla Scala di Milano, nel novembre del 2015 risulta quarto idoneo e vi collabora tutt’ora. Nel Maggio del 2013 inizia la collaborazione con l’orchestra del Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. A Luglio del 2013 è stato nominato commissario esterno per gli esami di diploma di Tromba presso il Conservatorio di Benevento. 

with Vincent Penzarella, former member of the New York Philharmonic

with Vincent Penzarella, former member of the New York Philharmonic

 

A dicembre del 2014 partecipa al concorso per prima tromba presso la New York Philharmonic Orchestra preparando il concorso con Claudio Gironacci e Vincent Penzarella. Nel 2015 risulta idoneo presso l’orchestra Haydn di Bolzano. Nel Novembre 2015 risulta finalista al concorso per prima tromba presso l’orchestra del teatro la Fenica di Venezia. A dicembre 2015 risulta secondo idoneo presso l’orchestra del teatro Massimo di Palermo. Ha partecipato a varie tournée  con l’orchestra del Teatro San Carlo di Napoli in Russia (San Pietroburgo e Mosca) ed in Cina e con l’orchestra del Teatro Alla Scala di Milano in Giappone. 
Ha suonato sotto la direzione di grandi direttori quali: Riccardo Muti, Zubin Mehta, Ala Gilbert, Daniel Barenboim, Nicola Luisotti, Antonio Pappano, Gustavo Dudamel, Riccardo Chailly e tanti altri noti direttori. 
Attualmente continua a perfezionarsi con il. Mº Claudio Gironacci. 

Marco Vicario was born in Syracuse (Sicily, Italy). Iin 1985 he graduated in trumpet studies in 2006 at the Musical Institute “V. Bellini” of Caltanissetta under the guidance of Claudio Salonia.

with Gábor Tarkövi, principal trumpet, Berlin Philharmonic

with Gábor Tarkövi, principal trumpet, Berlin Philharmonic

He has participated in numerous master classes with teachers, such as: Vincent Penzarella, Michael Sachs, Tage Larsen, John Hagstrom, Robert Sullivan, Raymond Riccomini, Rex Martin, Gabor Tarkövi, Roger Webster, Claudio Gironacci, and many others.

From 1997 to 2005, he was first trumpet in the Karl Orff wind ensemble of Priolo Gargallo directed by Maestro Salvatore Tralongo, Deputy Master Concetta Vicario (his sister) and chaired by Pippo Vicar (his father) with whom he won five first prizes in national competitions and the same has recorded a CD entitled “Dialogues.”

From December 2005 to December 2006 he performed his military service at the Italian National Army Band in Rome working as a musician under the direction of  Fluvio Creux.

Since October of 2006 he was playing in the Italian Youth Orchestra of Fiesole, the Symphonic Orchestra of Savona, and the music institute orchestra “V. Bellini” of Catania.

He began working with the orchestra of the Teatro San Carlo in Naples in November 2007.  In May 2009, he became an official extra, in April of 2012, he became first-call still collaborates. He was awarded the basic and the trumpet diploma by the commissioner for external examinations at the State Conservatory of Music “A. Scontrino” of Trapani in the summer and autumn session of the year 2009.

Brass Section of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Festival with Zubin Mehta

Brass Section of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Festival with Zubin Mehta

In October 2009 he was appointed second call at the orchestra of the opera of Cagliari and first call in the following year. In the summer of 2011 he collaborated with the Symphonic Orchestra of Sicily in Palermo. In June 2012 he was an extra at the orchestra of the Teatro Alla Scala in Milan, and in November of 2015 he was officially appointed fourth call and still collaborates. In May of 2013 he started working with the orchestra of the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. In July of 2013 he was given the trumpet diploma  at the Conservatory of Benevento.

In December of 2014 he participated in the competition for the first trumpet at the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (preparing for the competition with Claudio Gironacci and Vincent Penzarella). In 2015 he started working with the Haydn Orchestra of Bolzano. In November 2015 was a finalist for principal trumpet of the orchestra of the theater Fenica Venice. A December 2015 he won a position as extra with the orchestra of the Teatro Massimo in Palermo. He has participated in various tours with the orchestra of the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, including to Russia (St. Petersburg and Moscow) and China. He has also toured  in Japan with the orchestra of the Teatro Alla Scala in Milan.

He has played under the baton of great conductors such as Riccardo Muti, Zubin Mehta, Ala Gilbert, Daniel Barenboim, Nicola Luisotti, Antonio Pappano, Gustavo Dudamel, Riccardo Chailly and many others.

Currently he is continuing his trumpet studies with Claudio Gironacci. 

Equipment
Bach Stradivarius B-flat trumpet, model 37, 50th Anniversary edition (mouthpieces by Parke, Merkelo 650-280-24 and Bach 1½C, 23-24)
Bach Stradivarius C trumpet, model 229, 25H pipe
Schilke E-flat trumpet
Schilke piccolo trumpet P5 (mouthpiece by Schilke 14A4X, p5x, p6x)
Yamaha flugelhorn 
Yamaha cornet
German rotary trumpet in C by Peter Oberrauch (mouthpiece Yamaha 15e4)

Video of Marco trying out different mouthpieces on his Bach B-flat trumpet:

Video of Marco trying out his rotary trumpet: 


Bi-lingual Interview with Italian Trumpeter, Marco Vicario

The interviewer is Stanley Curtis


 

SC: Ha iniziato i suoi studi musicali quando era giovane? È stato il suo primo studio tipico di studenti italiani?

MV: Ho iniziato a suonare la tromba a 12 anni a scuola, nello stesso anno è nata una banda musicale di cui mio padre e mia sorella erano presidente e vice maestro, cosi per gioco ho iniziato a suonare la tromba in banda diretta dal maestro Salvatore Tralongo con il quale ho iniziato a fare le prime note.

SC: Did you start your musical studies at a young age? Was your early study typical of Italian students?

MV: I started playing trumpet when I was twelve years old in school. In the same year my father started a band, and my sister was president and assistant director. So for fun I started playing the trumpet in this band, which was directed by Maestro Salvatore Tralongo, with whom I started playing my first notes.

 

SC: Chi sono stati alcuni dei vostri primi maestri? Quali erano le loro lezioni importanti che hanno aiutato ad andare avanti nel suo modo di suonare? Ai quali conservatori sei andato? Come pensi che si differenziano dalle scuole americane di musica?

MV: Successivamente ho studiato con Carmelo Fede (prima tromba del teatro V. Bellini di Catania), poi con Claudio Salonia e Gioacchino Giuliano che mi hanno seguito fino al diploma conseguito nel 2006 presso l’istituto musicale di Caltanissetta da privatista (cioè allievo esterno, studiare con altri insegnanti e fare in conservatorio solo gli esami). Ho capito di voler studiare a livello professionale anche grazie ad un mio carissimo amico Stefano D’Amico (trombettista), che mi ha da subito aiutato e fatto conoscere il mio attuale maestro Claudio Gironacci (seconda tromba del teatro San Carlo di Napoli) con il quale ho cominciato un percorso di vera formazione professionale e preparazione per le audizioni e i concorsi in orchestra.

with teacher Claudio Gironacci, second trumpet of the Teatro di San Carlo di Napoli

with teacher Claudio Gironacci, second trumpet of the Teatro di San Carlo di Napoli

Claudio Gironacci ha studiato in America con grandi strumentisti e didatti quali: Arnold Jacobs, Vincent Chicowiz e Vincent Penzarella; la sua formazione ha contribuito molto alla mia crescita tecnica e musicale della tromba, a mio parere la scuola americana è molto efficace ed io personalmente cerco di applicare i concetti basilari della scuola del (bel canto) cioè cercare di cantare con lo strumento e divertirmi, suonare con facilita in massimo relax.

SC: Who were some of your early teachers? What were their important lessons that helped you move forward in your playing? Which conservatories did you go to? How do you think they differ from American schools of music?

MV: Later I studied with Carmelo Fede (first trumpet of the theater V. Bellini in Catania), then with Claudio Salonia and Gioacchino Giuliano who have followed me up to the diploma in 2006 at the Music Institute of Caltanissetta as a private student (i.e., an external student who only studies with studio teachers and takes the final exams). I knew I wanted to study at a professional level thanks to my dear friend Stephen D’Amico (trumpeter), which immediately helped me and made known my current master Claudio Gironacci (second trumpet of the Teatro San Carlo in Naples) with which I began a process of real vocational training and preparation for auditions and competitions in the orchestra.

with Vincent Penzarella and Claudio Gironacci

with Vincent Penzarella and Claudio Gironacci

Claudio Gironacci studied in America with great musicians and teachers such as Arnold Jacobs, Vincent Cichowiz and Vincent Penzarella. Gironacci’s teaching has contributed a lot to my growth technique and music of the trumpet. I think the American school is very effective and I personally try to apply the basic concepts of the school of beautiful singing (trying to sing with the instrument and play with ease and maximum relaxation).

 

SC: Qual è stato il suo primo lavoro professionale? Che tipo di esperienze ha avuto da questo lavoro?

MV: La mia prima esperienza professionale è stata con l’orchestra sinfonica di Viterbo, ho fatto la prima tromba in vari programmi, li ho iniziato a capire come suonare in orchestra, cioè ascoltarsi reciprocamente, fare da subito le dinamiche scritte in funzione del suono dell’orchestra e cercare la stessa articolazione e intonazioni con le varie sezioni.

SC: What was your first professional job? What did you learn from this experience?

MV: My first professional experience was with the Symphony Orchestra of Viterbo (about 100 km or 60 miles northwest of Rome), I played first trumpet on various concerts. There, I learned how to play in the orchestra—in other words, to listen to each other, and immediately do the dynamics written according to the sound of orchestra and try to match the same articulation and intonation with each section.

 

SC: Quali altri lavori sei stato nominato? Quali sono state le audizioni come? Penso che potrebbe essere un po’ diverso da audizioni americani.

MV: Dal 2005 ho iniziato a fare audizioni e concorsi nei seguenti teatri italiani. 2005-2006 ho svolto il servizio militare a Roma con la banda musicale dell’esercito italiano e successivamente partecipato anche ad i concorsi nelle bande della polizia di stato e dei carabinieri. Attualmente collaboro assiduamente con il teatro alla scala di Milano, il teatro san Carlo di Napoli, il teatro del maggio musicale fiorentino.

Orchestra giovanile europea
orchestra giovanile italiana di Fiesole
orchestra del teatro san Carlo di Napoli (2 idoneità)
orchestra del teatro lirico di Cagliari (2 idoneità)
orchestra del teatro del maggio musicale fiorentino
orchestra sinfonica di Savona (1 segnalazione)
orchestra Haydn di Bolzano (1 idoneità)
orchestra dell’accademia santa cecilia di Roma
orchestra del regio di Torino
orchestra del conservatorio bellini di Catania (1 idoneità)
orchestra del teatro alla scala di Milano (2 idoneità)
orchestra del teatro massimo di Palermo (1 idoneità)
orchestra del teatro la fenice di Venezia (finalista)
New York Philharmonic (eliminatoria)

SC: What other jobs have you been appointed to? What were the auditions like? I think they might be a little different than American auditions.

MV: Since 2005 I started doing auditions and competitions in Italy. From 2005 to 2006 I served in the Italian military in Rome as a member of the Italian army band. Currently I work closely with the Scala Theatre in Milan, the San Carlo theater in Naples, the Theatre of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. (Note by SC: In Italy, if you do well on an audition, you can be put on a sub or extra list): 

Orchestra of the Teatro San Carlo in Naples
Orchestra of the opera house in Cagliari
Symphony Orchestra of Savona
Haydn Orchestra of Bolzano
Orchestra of the conservatory Bellini of Catania
Orchestra of La Scala Theatre in Milan
Orchestra of the Teatro Massimo of Palermo

Also, I did pretty well in these auditions for full-time positions: 

Orchestra of the Teatro La Fenice in Venice (finalist)
New York Philharmonic (semi-final round)

Verdi's Requiem with La Scala di Milano

Verdi’s Requiem with La Scala di Milano

SC: Si gioca opera spesso ora. Quali sono alcune delle difficoltà in opera per il trombettista che potrebbe sapere solo di giocare in orchestre e bande.

MV: al momento lavoro molto con l’orchestra del teatro alla scala di Milano, facendo molto repertorio operistico ho notato che la differenza è proprio nella sonorità, in buca si suona molto piano per dare spazio ai cantanti e rispetto al repertorio sinfonico il suono deve essere meno presente e brillante quindi per un trombettista che suona spesso sinfonico o in banda la difficoltà è quella di ridimensionare tutto e trovare subito un bel suono sul piano e la prontezza negli attacchi.

SC: You play opera often now. What are some of the difficulties in opera for the trumpeter who might only know about playing in orchestras and bands.

l-r, Esteban Batallan, first trumpet in Granada, Spain, Nicola Martelli, second trumpet of La Scala di Milano, Zubin Mehta, Francesco Tamiati, first trumpet  of La Scala, and Marco Vicario

l-r, Esteban Batallan, first trumpet in Granada, Spain, Nicola Martelli, second trumpet of La Scala di Milano, Zubin Mehta, Francesco Tamiati, first trumpet of La Scala, and Marco Vicario

MV: I am working a lot now with the orchestra of La Scala Theatre in Milan, doing a lot of operatic repertoire. I noticed that the difference is really in the sound. In the opera pit, one plays very softly, giving way to the singers. It is less brilliant by comparison to an orchestral trumpet sound. Then the difficulty for a symphonic band trumpeter is to be able to change all of the dynamics immediately, finding a nice piano sound but in the next instance being ready for loud attacks.

 

SC: Tu hai mantenuto gli studi in corso, studiando con insegnanti di tutto il mondo. Chi sono alcuni di quegli insegnanti, e che cosa hai imparato da loro?

MV: nel 2013 ho studiato in America a New York maggiormente con Vincent Penzarella (ex seconda tromba della New York Philharmonic), e poi ho fatto lezione con Raymond Riccomini, a Chicago con Steven Burns, Robert Sullivan, Tage Larsen e Rex Martin. Con loro ho cercato di applicare le cose basilari del bel suono in tutto il registro nella tecnica ed in tutto ciò che esegui, suonare cercando sempre la facilità e la bellezza e ho lavorato molto sul repertorio orchestrale sentendo quindi vari pareri sull’esecuzione dei passi più importanti per tromba.

SC: You have kept your studies going by studying with teachers around the world. Who are some of those teachers, and what have you learned from them?

with Raymond Riccomini, Second Trumpet at the Metropolitan Opera.

with Raymond Riccomini, Second Trumpet at the Metropolitan Opera

MV: In 2013 For the most part, I have studied in America in New York City with Vincent Penzarella (former second trumpet in the New York Philharmonic), and then I took lessons with Raymond Riccomini (Metropolitan Opera Orchestra), in Chicago with Stephen Burns (trumpet soloist and music director), Robert Sullivan (principal trumpet of the Cincinnati Symphony), Tage Larsen (Chicago Symphony Orchestra) and Rex Martin (trumpet soloist). With them, I tried to apply the basics of good sound throughout the register in technique and in all execution, always trying to play with ease and beauty. I worked hard on orchestral repertoire, and I learned a lot on how to improve on the trumpet, step by step.

 

SC: Dove vuoi andare da qui? Nei prossimi anni? In venti anni?

MV: il mio sogno è di far parte di una grande orchestra, come già detto ho vissuto parte del mio sogno partecipando al concorso per prima tromba alla New York Philharmonic Orchestra e continuerò a collaborare in orchestra e a fare concorsi in Italia ed all’estero.

SC: Where do you want to go from here? In the next few years? In twenty years?

MV: My dream is to be part of a great orchestra. As I said earlier, I lived part of my dream by auditioning for the first trumpet job in the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and I will continue to work in Italian orchestras and to audition for permanent positions in Italy and abroad.

 

SC: Cosa ti piace fare quando non si gioca la tromba?

MV: quando decido di non studiare e rilassarmi vado a camminare o correre, trascorro del tempo con la famiglia ed esco con gli amici

SC: What do you like to do when you’re not playing the trumpet?

MV: When I decide I’ve had enough practice and I need to relax, I go on a walk or run, spend time with family and go out with friends!

 

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Monteverdi’s Symbolic Use of the Cornett: “Deposit potentes de sede”

MSUC: Chapter 3, Part 7

(This is the twenty-forth part of my dissertation series. Previous: MSUC: Chapter 3, Part 6)

Deposuit potentes de sede

Domenico Fetti (Roman, 1589-1623) The Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (1618/1628). Notice the cornett player among group of musicians in upper right.

Domenico Fetti (Roman, 1589-1623) The Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (1618/1628). Notice the cornett player among group of musicians in upper right.

Monteverdi’s Magnificat from the 1610 collection is divided into twelve sections, coinciding with the twelve Biblical verses. Cornetts are used in six of these verses: (1) Magnificat anima mea, (3) Quia respexit, (7) Deposuit potentes de sede, (8) Esurientes implevit bonis, (10) Sicut locutus est, and (12) Sicut erat in principio.

The seventh section, Deposuit potentes de sede, is particularly interesting for many reasons, one of which is that its orchestrational and motivic concepts are derived in large part from the very well-known aria from Orfeo, “Possente spirto.” Both pieces share the texture of two soprano obbligato instruments playing in echo, which decorate and punctuate the solitary vocal line. In addition, there are many motivic devices that link Deposuit to “Possente.” Thus, one can see that Monteverdi used “Possente” as a model for Deposuit. In figure 13, four such devices are illustrated, including the upward-sweeping scale, spanning an octave, which I shall call Motive A; the downward, broken third figure, Motive B; the dotted rhythmic figure, Motive C; and the written out cadential gruppo figure, Motive D.

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Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 4.42.57 PM

In “Possente spirto,” there are four sections underscored by obbligato instruments in the following order: (1) violin duet, (2) cornett duet, (3) double harp, (4) two violins with “Basso da brazzo.

The concluding fifth section is for voice alone (and
un-ornamented). Unlike the order of the first two sections of “Possente,” the two sections of Deposuit potentes de sede are accompanied first by a pair of cornetts, then by a pair of violins. Despite similar motivic usage, as illustrated in example 13, between the first two sections of “Possente” and the whole of Deposuit, there is a significant difference between the two pieces: Monteverdi reverses the order of obbligato instruments. I believe Monteverdi conscientiously reworked the earlier material in order to make a significant correlation between the instrumentation and the new text. The words “Deposuit potentes de sede” (“He hath put down the mighty from their seats”) are framed by ritornello passages played by two cornetts. The words of the second half of this section, “et exaltavit humiles” (“and exalted them of low degree”), are set off by ritornelli played by two violins. The “mighty” in Deposuit are associated with the cornetts, whereas those of “low degree” are underscored by the violin (which was Monteverdi’s own instrument). Having already established the correlation between the cornett and the princely class, this text-painting of social status by means of instrumentation makes sense.[1] Moreover, if the mighty are to be put down from their seats, the cornett as a symbol of vanitas and death becomes an even more pertinent symbol for this passage.[2]

(Next: The Cornett as a Symbol of Social Hierarchy)

[1]. “To Monteverdi, the cornett substitutes for the trumpet and, by transference, becomes a symbol of the political power and munificence of the Gonzaga family.”

[2]. The Cornett as a Symbol of Death and the Transitory in the Graphic Arts

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Trumpet Books: An Autobiography From Herbert L. Clarke

Herbert L. Clarke as a member of the Victor Herbert Band (c. 1896)

Herbert L. Clarke as a member of the Victor Herbert Band (c. 1896)

Trumpeters and cornetist all over the world usually know a little about Herbert L. Clarke, but what a lot of us may not know is that he wrote a marvelous memoire, How I Became a Cornetist. You can buy this fairly short and easy to read book from various retailers or you can get a PDF version for free from the Kalamazoo Public Library, or from a few other websites. 

Clarke organizes his book into Series (chapters) that were originally published serially in a band magazine, Fillmore’s Musical Messenger. The relaxed style of writing about his pursuit of great cornet playing during an era when cornetist were so incredibly popular helps the reader immerse himself into the time period. 

For me, the most important theme of this book is how much effort cornet-playing at this level was required. In fact, Clarke makes a big point of de-bunking the notion of the “born cornetist.” This book is about the hard work Clarke put in to become great, and it stands as an example for us today. His anecdotes and advice about his family upbringing, the difficulty of buying his first cornet, his first encounters with transposition, and lying about his age to join a band all make delightful reading. 

We can all be grateful to Clarke for his remarkable memory. Even the most trivial stories come to life with his amazing grasp of past details. For instance, his first hearing of Walter B. Rogers when he was about 15 years old: 

At about the middle of the program a young man not much older than myself stood up and without moving from his place began playing a cornet solo which at once so captivated my attention that I forced my way through the crowd in order to get nearer the bandstand and not miss a note. . . . The number, an extremely difficult cornet solo which demanded great endurance in playing was the Excelsior Polka by Frewin. . . . At the ending of the solo the young player was given an ovation of tumultuous applause, in which I joined vigorously. The cornetist again arose, but this time stepped to the front of the platform, and to my wonderment played the entire solo through for the second time without seeming tired or making a slip. . . . His face did not become purple, distorted, or show any signs of strain.

 

Herbert L. Clarke at age 23, Cornet Soloist of Gilmore's 22nd Regimental Band

Herbert L. Clarke at age 23, Cornet Soloist of Gilmore’s 22nd Regimental Band

Learning how Clarke took up the viola to play in the family quartet and how he tried working in a business store, helps us to realize that Clarke kept his career options open. Even so, he still pursued his dream with an enormous amount of hard work on the cornet. The book concludes with him finally getting his dream job–as cornet soloist with Patrick Gilmore’s band at age 23. 

After I had finished, Mr. Gilmore came over to me, patted me on the back, and told me that he had been looking for a great cornet player who could play musically, with the endurance I had displayed this afternoon and at last he had found one! I nearly fell over on hearing this expression of enthusiasm regarding my playing, and had to sit down. 

In closing, Clarke adds an amazing synopsis of his career as a cornetist after that point. Here are some of those facts:

Clarke logged over 8000 miles of travel as soloist with the bands of Gilmore, John Philip Sousa and Victor Herbert. He played over six thousand programmed cornet solos, including 473 concerts in one season. He soloed at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, the Paris World’s Fair in 1900, and the St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904.

Anglo Canadian Leather Company Band leader Herbert L. Clarke (left) and C. O. Shaw (right), owner of the Anglo Canadian Leather Company, Huntsville, Ontario.

Anglo Canadian Leather Company Band leader Herbert L. Clarke (left) and C. O. Shaw (right), owner of the Anglo Canadian Leather Company, Huntsville, Ontario.

 

 

Of course, Herbert L. Clarke also distinguished himself as a bandmaster himself, eventually becoming the president of the American Bandmasters Association in 1943.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me at the grave marker of Herbert L. Clarke

Me at the grave marker of Herbert L. Clarke

 

I have visited Clarke’s gravesite in Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC, on a number of occasions, and each time I have a sense of wonder, appreciation and meaning. 

 

 

 

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What Books are in your Gig Bag?

It’s a long rehearsal of Bach’s B-minor Mass, or some bel-canto opera, and you have about a thousand minutes of rest (so it seems). The smart trumpeter will have reading material at hand to pass the time, and perhaps increase his or her professional knowledge by reading about the trumpet or about the life of a trumpeter. In order to help out in this area, I have come up with a list of about a hundred books that just might be interesting to you. But this list is  too interesting to lump into just one post–I am going to serialize it. 

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 11.37.52 AMFor our first book, I have a work of fiction. Eric Kelly, The Trumpet of Krakow. Youth literature, but interesting to all ages. This is the fictionalized story connected to “the Heynal” call of St. Mary’s Church in Krakow, Poland. This is a trumpet call that has been played four times in succession, on each hour, from the top of the tower of St. Mary’s ever since the Tartar invasion of Krakow in 1241 killed the original trumpeter by an arrow shot to his throat. 

Here is a small video of the ceremony as it is performed today. 

Kelly’s book, however, tells a fictional story centered on the historic fire that burned Krakow in 1462. In the book, Andrew Charnetski’s family flee their burned house to give a mysterious, cursed crystal to the king of Poland, who turns out to have been murdered. Although now the family is destitute, Andrew’s son, Joseph, saves an alchemist who, out of gratitude, shelters the family. The bad guy, Peter of the Button Face, is after the crystal and is on to the Charnetski family’s whereabouts, but the scholar Jan Kanty shields them and offers Andrew the job of playing the trumpet call during the night. Alchemy, hypnosis, fires and treachery all about in this Newberry Award winner from 1929. 

 

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Happy birthday, and the importance of Story, Song and Support

It all started three years ago with a little post about, well, starting this website. And now Trumpet Journey has grown to more than 90 published posts about all kinds of trumpet-related things. There have been many interviews, but also “Top Ten Lists.” There have been posts about jazz, renaissance and baroque music, orchestral playing, the jobs market, and even language learning. 

Of the 117,000 people who have visited Trumpet Journey, I am really happy to receive the occasional comment or question. Especially from places like The Netherlands or Italy. Or even India! (sorry, India, I haven’t gotten around to answering you, yet). 

15th-century manuscript with a bearded figure blowing a trumpet

15th-century manuscript with a bearded figure blowing a trumpet

I haven’t posted much of my own writing in a while, because I have been doing so many interviews. So, I’d like to shake off the dust and talk about the three “S”s. These are what I think are the three key elements that each great trumpet player has: Story, Song, and Support

Each of us has a unique story. That story may be an actual account of some event, or even the story of our life. But we also have our own stories that we keep coming back to, such as “beauty is great,” or “old things are cool” or “technology is what I’m about.” These are our thematic points that our choices point to. Choices about repertoire, style, equipment, venues, and even the clothes we wear when we perform can help create our own story and the story that each generation needs to hear. Many players perform to a story that is going on inside their heads. As listeners, we can sense that something dramatic is happening. 

Trumpeters like Jean-Francois Madeuf, Doc Severinson, and Philip Smith seem to have a really strong story. Their playing seems to spring effortlessly from their personal story. 

Authenticity (played on an authentic natural baroque trumpet–very rarely heard):

Showmanship–notice how Doc adjusts his story to suit the Lawrence Welk Show audience:

And this story telling in the orchestral realm. I remember hearing Philip Smith talking about the way he thought about this opening excerpt from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. He said he pictured Death (as the shrouded skeleton) reaching out from a dark fog. Closer and closer he comes, until you see his grotesqueness clearly. Sound quality is not quite perfect in this example.

 

Then there is the song. This is how we play what we play. This song can be sung with heart-on-the-sleeve romanticism, laser-beam clarity, or rhetorical interpretation. This is our personal song we sing on the trumpet when we play. Each of our voices are different–and they should be. Our song is the meeting place of our phrasing, our interpretation, our experience and, of course, our tone. I learned a beautiful lesson about tone from a former colleague of mine, the great euphonium player named Roger Behrend. He said it helps him to think about tone in terms of color, texture and taste. So, for instance, if you are thinking about maroon, velvet and chocolate, you get an especially luxurious sound. Or, perhaps you’re thinking golden, rough and with the taste of jambalaya, like I do, when I hear this trumpeter:

Trumpeters that have a great sense of song are many, but for me, some of the most astounding “trumpet singers” have been, besides Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, and Maurice André. 

I found this unusual example of Maurice André playing the Hindemith “Trumpet Sonate.” While this is not normal repertoire for André, nor is it a standard interpretation of the renowned German composer’s piece, it so well shows André’s glowing song-making style.

 

But to keep the song going, which keeps the story fresh, we all need the support of our technique, our fundamentals, our use of air, and our “chops.” For most of us, this comes down to consistent, mindful practice over many years. We are also looking for the right equipment to help us get there. Equipment and practice routines seem to be the subjects of most the trumpet chatter out there on the web and in studios. We all want to be able to play better, faster and higher. I know I do. But I think we all understand the limitations of mouthpieces, technique and high notes without a great singing style. Or without a musical story to tell. Let’s let support be what it is: help for a greater cause. Nevertheless, there are some great examples of technique and equipment.

Wynton Marsalis’ amazing technique and unique equipment do not get in the way of his song or story.

Malcolm McNab is a paragon of fundamentals, and he spins them into the most amazing recordings.

And, or course, there are the high note players like Arturo Sandoval and the late, great Maynard Ferguson. 

Talk about support!!! 

I think all of these examples show exceptional Story, Song and Support, and hopefully will give us some inspiration to communicate with our audiences, too.

In a very meaningful way, Trumpet Journey has been one of my trumpet stories that I have been able to tell over the last three years. 

 

 

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