Interview in Portuguese (Português) and English with Brazilian Trumpeter, Pedro Azevedo

Pedro Santos de Azevedo, mestre em música pela Unicamp e bacharel em música com habilitação em trompete pela Faculdade Santa Marcelina, iniciou seus estudos musicais aos 9 anos, na Escola de Música da Banda Musical de Peruíbe (1998-2002). Atou como trompetista em importantes grupos musicais, como a Banda Sinfônica de Cubatão (2008-2015). Possui cursos de educação musical pelo Método Suzuki e em 2016 realizou o curso de capacitação para professor de trompete Suzuki no Canadá, se tornando o único professor latino-americano com o curso de formação no instrumento. Sua pesquisa de mestrado, sob orientação do Prof. Dr. Paulo Ronqui, resultou em uma composição inédita para trompete e flugelhorn solo de nome “O Chamado do Anjo”, do compositor Leonardo Martinelli. Trabalha como professor de música na instituição AMIC – Amigos da Criança desde 2013 e como professor de trompete do Centro Suzuki de Campinas desde 2017. Atua como trompetista convidado em orquestras da região, como por exemplo a  Orquestra Sinfônica de Indaiatuba e Orquestra Sinfônica da Unicamp.

Pedro Santos de Azevedo, received a master in music degree at Unicamp and a bachelor in music with trumpet qualification from Santa Marcelina College. He began his musical studies at the age of 9, at the Music School of the Peruíbe Music Band (1998-2002). He played as a trumpet player in important musical groups, such as the Cubatão Symphonic Band (2008-2015). He holds music education courses by the Suzuki Method and in 2016 held the training course for trumpet teacher Suzuki in Canada, becoming the only Latin American teacher with the training course in the instrument.

His master’s research, under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Paulo Ronqui, resulted in an unpublished composition for trumpet and flugelhorn solo named “O Chamado do Anjo”, by composer Leonardo Martinelli. He works as a music teacher at AMIC – Amigos da Criança since 2013 and as a trumpet teacher at the Suzuki Center of Campinas since 2017. He is a guest trumpet player in orchestras in the region, such as the Indaiatuba Symphony Orchestra and the Unicamp Symphony Orchestra.

Equipment
Trumpets:
Bb – Stomvi Titán Bellflex #27 with MaxiClappers
C – Stomvi Titán Bellflex #23 with MaxiClappers
Eb/D – Stomvi Máster Titanium #20 Bellflex gold plated and #20 Copper silver plated  
Bb/A Piccolo – Yamaha YTR-6810s
Pocket Trumpet: Eagle
Herald Trumpet: Suzuki
Mouthpieces:
Stomvi Valencia 3C Classic (on Bb and C trumpet)
Stomvi Valencia 5C Classic (on Eb/D trumpet)
Monette Classic STC-1 C4S S2 (on C trumpet, sometimes)
Stomvi Valencia 10E Classic (on piccolo)
Schilke 13A4a (on piccolo)
Denis Wick 3FL (on flugelhorn)

 


Bi-lingual Interview with Brazilian Trumpeter, Pedro Azevedo

The interviewer is Stanley Curtis


SC: Pedro, muito obrigado por concordar em fazer essa entrevista

PSA: É um prazer Stan, obrigado pelo convite!

SC: Pedro, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview.

PSA: It’s a pleasure Stan! Thanks for the invitation.

SC: A maioria dos meus leitores não sabe muito sobre o Brasil. Diga-nos onde você nasceu, cresceu e vive agora. Como é viver de música nesses lugares? Como você acha que a vida musical no Brasil se compara a outros lugares do mundo?

PSA: Eu nasci na cidade de São Paulo – SP, e nos meus 4 anos minha família mudou para Peruibe – SP, uma cidade pequena no litoral sul do estado de SP. Lá permaneci até completar 20 anos. Comecei a estudar música aos 9 anos em Peruibe, na banda musical da cidade, em agosto de 1998. No inicio tinha aulas de coral e percussão, e cerca de 3 anos depois comecei a estudar trompete. No ano de 2002 passei a estudar no Projeto BEC, na cidade de Cubatão – SP, um importante polo musical do estado. Em Cubatão foi o momento onde o estudo do trompete começou a ficar realmente sério, e lá permaneci, como estudante até 2008, tendo aulas com José Torres Menezes. No final de 2008 passei a atuar profissionalmente na cidade, tocando em duas bandas locais: Banda Sinfônica de Cubatão e Banda Marcial de Cubatão. Também em 2008, comecei a estudar trompete na Escola Municipal de Música de SP, com o Prof. Dr. Carlos Sulpicio. Em 2010, ano em que ingressei na Faculdade Santa Marcelina, voltei a morar na cidade de São Paulo, e lá permaneci até março de 2014. Me mudei para Campinas – SP, interior do estado, depois de casar com Marina Maugeri. Nos conhecemos na faculdade. Em Campinas, comecei a fazer mestrado em performance na Universidade Estadual de Campinas – Unicamp – no ano de 2015, sob a orientação do Prof. Dr. Paulo Ronqui. Finalizei o curso no mês passado (agosto/2017).

SC: Most of my readers do not know much about Brazil. Tell us where you were born, grew up and live now. What are these places like to live in for a musician? How do you think the musical life in Brazil compares to other places in the world?

PSA: I was born in the city of São Paulo – SP (the state of São Paulo), and when I was four my family moved to Peruibe – SP, a small town on the south coast of the state of SP. I stayed there until I turned 20. I started studying music at the age of nine in Peruibe, in the city’s music band, in August of 1998. At the beginning, I had classes in choir and percussion, and about three years later I started studying trumpet. In 2002, I began studies at the BEC Project, in the city of Cubatão – SP, an important musical center of the state. In Cubatão I began to get really serious about the trumpet, and I stayed there as a student until 2008, taking classes with José Torres Menezes. At the end of 2008 I started to perform professionally in the city, playing in two local bands: Cubatão Symphonic Band and Cubatão Military Band. Also in 2008, I started to study trumpet at the Municipal School of Music of SP, with Prof. Dr. Carlos Sulpicio. In 2010, the year I joined Santa Marcelina College, I returned to live in the city of São Paulo, and stayed there until March 2014. I moved to Campinas, state of São Paulo, after marrying Marina Maugeri. We met in college. In Campinas, I started to do a master’s degree in performance at the State University of Campinas – Unicamp – in 2015, under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Paulo Ronqui. I finished the course last month (August / 2017).

SC: Como você se interessou pela música? Por que você escolheu o trompete?

PSA: Não foi escolha minha estudar música. Em Peruibe vivíamos na periferia e meus pais tomaram essa decisão para que eu e meu irmão mais velho, João, não ficássemos na rua. A escolha do trompete, até hoje para mim é uma dúvida. Lá na banda de Peruibe, quando me perguntaram qual instrumento eu gostaria de tocar, eu respondi “trompete”de imediato, mesmo sem conhecer o instrumento. Eu escolhi o trompete, e não me arrependo até hoje.

SC: How did you get interested in music? Why did you pick the trumpet?

PSA: It was not my choice to study music. In Peruibe we lived on the outskirts and my parents made the decision for me and my older brother, John, did not stay on the street. The choice of the trumpet, to this day for me is a doubt. There in Peruibe’s band, when they asked me what instrument I would like to play, I answered “trumpet” immediately, even without knowing the instrument. I chose the trumpet, and I do not regret it until today.

SC: Conte-me sobre seus estudos musicais avançados no Brasil. Sua educação foi típica?

PSA: Creio que agora, depois de finalizar o mestrado, não é tão típica assim. Tenho faculdade, o que é bem comum. Tenho diploma de conservatório (Escola Municipal de Música de SP). Muitas pessoas estudam em conservatório, mas aqui no Brasil o número de pessoas que consegue se formar é baixo. Muitas vezes elas acabam desistindo quando entram na faculdade, ou pelo fato de terem conseguido alguma bolsa de estudos fora do país. Sobre o mestrado, falando sobre trompetistas, levando em consideração o tamanho do país, eu diria que existem poucos trompetistas com esse tipo de formação. Estou especulando, não tenho muita informação sobre isso.

SC: Tell me about your advanced musical studies in Brazil. Was your education typical?

PSA: I believe that now, after finishing the masters degree, my education is not so typical. I do have college degree, which is very common. I have a conservatory degree (Escola Municipal de Música de SP). Many people study in a conservatory, but here in Brazil the number of people who can graduate is low. Often, they end up giving up when they enter college, or because they have gotten scholarships out of the country. About the masters, speaking about trumpeters, taking into account the size of the country, I would say that there are few trumpeters with this type of training. I’m speculating, I do not have much information on that.

SC: Em quais grupos musicais você tocou? Conte-me sobre alguns dos seus concertos interessantes.

PSA: Posso dizer que maior parte da minha vida musical aconteceu dentro de alguma banda. Como já disse, comecei na Banda Musical de Peruibe, e lá também tocava na Banda do Colégio Irene Bargieri. Depois atuei na Banda Escola de Cubatão como estudante, e profissionalmente na Banda Sinfônica de Cubatão e Banda Marcial de Cubatão. Minha prática de orquestra, antes de mudar para Campinas, ficava restrita a orquestras de festivais. Entretanto, sou frequentemente requisitado para atuar na Orquestra Sinfônica da Unicamp, Orquestra Sinfônica de Indaiatuba, e outras orquestras da região.

Sobre os concertos, eu diria que os 8 anos que integrei o naipe de trompetes da Banda Sinfônica de Cubatão foram muito enriquecedores. O repertório de Banda Sinfônica é riquíssimo, e muito desafiador. Tocávamos desde música barroca até música contemporânea, brasileira, e etc. Só para citar um, lembro quando tocamos a Sinfonia Nº2 “The Big Apple”, de Johan de Meij, em 2011. Foi marcante não só pela dificuldade, mas pelo que a sinfonia trouxe de conhecimento para mim, sobre música contemporânea. Gosto muito de música contemporânea.

Um concerto inesquecível para mim ocorreu em um festival na cidade de Pelotas – RS, onde tocamos Abertura 1812 de Tchaykovsky com uma grande orquestra, coro, uma banda com cerca de 20 músicos e dois canhões de guerra. Eu estava na orquestra, foi sensacional!

SC: What music groups have you played in? Tell me about some of your interesting concerts.

PSA: I can say that most of my musical life happened inside some band. As I said, I started in the Peruibe Music Band, and there I also played in the Irene Bargieri College Band. Later I performed in the School Band of Cubatão as a student, and professionally in the Cubatão Symphonic Band and Cubatão Martial Band. My orchestra practice, before moving to Campinas, was restricted to festival orchestras. However, I am often asked to perform at the Unicamp Symphony Orchestra, Indaiatuba Symphony Orchestra, and other orchestras in the region.

Concerning the concerts, I would say that the eight years that I have been a part of the trumpet section of the Cubatão Symphonic Band have been very enriching. The repertoire of Symphonic Band is very rich, and very challenging. We play repertoire from baroque music to contemporary Brazilian music, and so on. Just to name one, I remember when we played Johan de Meij’s Symphony No. 2 “The Big Apple” in 2011. It was remarkable not only for the difficulty, but for what the symphony brought to me of knowledge about contemporary music. I really like contemporary music.

An unforgettable concert for me took place at a festival in the city of Pelotas – RS, where we played Opening 1812 by Tchaykovsky with a large orchestra, choir, a band with about 20 musicians and two war cannons. I was in the orchestra, it was sensational!

SC: Quem são seus “heróis” trompetistas – no Brasil, na América Latina, no mundo?

PSA: No Brasil eu diria que os três professores que estudei até hoje. José Torres é minha referência de som, sem dúvida alguma. Ele tem um som lindo! Já Carlos Sulpicio foi quem me introduziu no meio acadêmico, e até o momento foi o professor com quem passei mais tempo, cerca de 8 anos. O Prof Paulo Ronqui foi um marco na minha carreira. Cresci muito com ele, passei a tocar melhor, mais relaxado, e aprendi a organizar meus estudos. Aprendi com ele a me conhecer enquanto trompetista, e saber o que é preciso fazer para evoluir. Essas são minhas maiores referências no Brasil. Tem também o Sidmar Vieira, Daniel D’Alcântara, Walmir Gil, Moisés Alves, dentre outros.

Na América Latina, sem dúvida alguma, é Pacho Flores, da Venezuela. Nunca ouvi em toda minha vida um som tão lindo. Ele vem com frequência ao Brasil, e tive a oportunidade de assistir alguns concertos, participar de alguns masterclasses. É um ser humano que transborda alegria e musicalidade, que canta com o trompete, que realmente faz música. Sem contar que a sua técnica é fantástica. Na minha opinião, todo trompetista deveria conhecê-lo!

No mundo, depende do que quero ouvir rsrs. Quando procuro música contemporânea, Ole Edvard Antonsen. Quando quero alguém com muita musicalidade, Alison Balsom. Quando procuro música antiga, Niklas Eklund. Música eletroacústica e trompete, Markus Stockhausen e Marco Blaauw. Ultimamente tenho ouvido muito Ibrahim Maalouf, foi uma descoberta recente através de um amigo. A música que ele faz é impressionante!

SC: Who are your trumpet “heroes”—in Brazil, in Latin America, in the world?

PSA: In Brazil I would say the three teachers I studied until today. José Torres is my reference of sound, without a doubt. He has a beautiful sound! Already Carlos Sulpicio was the one who introduced me to the academic environment, and so far he has been the teacher with whom I spent the most time, about 8 years. Prof. Paulo Ronqui was a mark in my career. I grew up a lot with him, I started playing better, more relaxed, and I learned how to organize my studies. I learned from him to know me as a trumpeter, and to know what it takes to evolve. These are my biggest references in Brazil. There are also Sidmar Vieira, Daniel D’Alcântara, Walmir Gil, Moisés Alves, among others.

In Latin America, without a doubt, it is Pacho Flores, from Venezuela. I’ve never heard such a beautiful sound in my whole life. He comes often to Brazil, and I had the opportunity to attend some concerts, to participate in some masterclasses. It is a human being who overflows joy and musicality, who sings with the trumpet, who really makes music. Not to mention that his technique is fantastic. In my opinion, every trumpeter should know him!

In the world, it depends on what I want to hear. When I look for contemporary music, Ole Edvard Antonsen. When I want someone with a lot of musicality, Alison Balsom. When I look for old music, Niklas Eklund. Electroacoustic music and trumpet, Markus Stockhausen and Marco Blaauw. Lately I have heard a lot of Ibrahim Maalouf, it was a recent discovery through a friend. The music he does is amazing!

SC: Como você se interessou pela educação infantil?

PSA: Minha esposa Marina é professora de violino Suzuki (e mãe Suzuki), e foi uma aluna Suzuki também. Ela me incentivou a fazer o curso de Filosofia Suzuki com a teacher trainer Shinobu Saito no ano de 2013, pois já tínhamos notícia do Método Suzuki para Trompete. Após a realização do curso, fui contratado como professor de música na AMIC – Amigos da Criança para trabalhar com uma faixa etária de 0 a 6 anos. Nunca havia trabalhado com crianças tão pequenas, foi desesperador. Não sabia o que fazer. Em Janeiro do ano seguinte, minha esposa estava se preparando para ir ao Peru fazer alguns cursos de capacitação de violino. Lá existe um festival muito importante na América latina. Ela me informou sobre os cursos de Estimulación Musical Temprana, um curso equivalente ao Early Childhood Course Suzuki. Acabei fazendo os dois níveis (de 0 a 2 anos e de 2 a 4 anos) e também alguns outros relacionados a educação musical. Foi fantástico. Comecei o ano muito mais capacitado a atender às expectativas da instituição. Ainda trabalho com isso na AMIC. Mas até ir a Calgary, não tinha nenhum aluno de trompete.

SC: How did you get interested in early childhood education?

PSA: My wife Marina is a Suzuki violin teacher (and mother Suzuki), and was a Suzuki student as well. She encouraged me to take the Suzuki Philosophy course with teacher trainer Shinobu Saito in the year 2013, as we had already heard about the Suzuki Method for Trumpet. After completing the course, I was hired as a music teacher at AMIC – Friends of the Child to work with an age group of 0 to 6 years. I had never worked with children so small, It was scaring. I did not know what to do. In January of the following year, my wife was preparing to go to Peru to do some violin training courses. There is a very important festival in Latin America. She informed me about Early Chilhood Music courses, a course equivalent to the Early Childhood Course Suzuki. I ended up doing both levels (from 0 to 2 years and from 2 to 4 years) and also some others related to music education. It was fantastic. I started the year much better able to meet the expectations of the institution. I still work on AMIC. But until I went to Calgary, I had no trumpet pupils.

SC: Você é, eu acho, o único brasileiro que ensina trompete utilizando o Método Suzuki. Conte-me sobre sua decisão de obter certificação, sua experiência em Calgary no verão passado e seu estúdio agora.

PSA: O motivo no qual eu fiz o curso de filosofia em 2013 foi para a possível realização do curso de trompete em um futuro distante. Eu realmente achava que seria algo distante, pois a teacher trainer é sueca, etc. Sempre fiquei, na verdade ainda fico, impressionado com a eficiência do método Suzuki. Minha esposa dá aulas em casa e no estúdio, portanto eu vejo o progresso de seus alunos bem de perto.

Sobre Calgary, eu fiquei sabendo muito tarde desse curso. Um amigo meu, Fábio dos Santos, professor de violino e viola Suzuki, esteve na última conferência em Minneapolis para apresentar uma palestra, e encontrou com Natalie DeJong, com quem ficou sabendo acerca do Suzuki Summer Institute em Calgary. Foi uma loucura! Corremos atrás de patrocínio, crownfunding, ajuda de parentes, amigos, comunidade Suzuki, pois sair do Brasil na época das Olimpíadas com destino ao Canadá no período de férias, é muito, mas muito caro! Mais ainda se a passagem for comprada perto do dia da viagem!

Mas o problema não foi só a passagem. Eu esqueci do visto! Foi insano, mandei muitos e-mails para o consulado canadense no Brasil, fui lá na porta, mesmo não podendo entrar, liguei, e etc. O visto ficou pronto um dia antes da viagem! O consulado adiantou a entrega, o que é algo muito incomum por aqui. Para completar, no dia da viagem era o primeiro dia das olimpíadas no Rio, fiquei preso em um congestionamento por um bom tempo. Não atrasou o vôo, mas me deixou muito preocupado.

Consegui uma bolsa da SAA que cobriu aproximadamente 25% do valor do curso, e mais 50% diretamente da Mount Royal University. Resumindo, consegui uma ajuda para pagar cerca de 70% da passagem, 75% do valor do curso, e fiquei hospedado na casa da Profa. Natalie DeJong, que me ajudou muito nesse processo. Sou eternamente grato. Outra pessoa fundamental nesse processo foi Marg Caspell, que também ajudou bastante.

Sobre o curso, para mim foi um divisor de águas. Eu realmente não sabia como iniciar um aluno adulto no trompete, que dirá uma criança. O conteúdo foi excelente e foi transmitido com muita clareza. Tive a oportunidade de conhecer outros professores de trompete (como você, Stan rsrs) de realidades completamente diferentes, e isso foi bastante enriquecedor.

Atualmente sou professor de trompete no Centro Suzuki de Campinas, um estúdio com mais de 35 anos de ensino Suzuki. No Brasil temos duas teacher treiners Suzuki, e uma delas é fundadora do Estúdio, a Prof. Shinobu Saito. Tenho 5 alunos: Henrique de 4 anos; Davi de 10 anos; Maria Luísa de 14 anos; Glauco de 9 anos; e a Isabela de 9 anos. O Henrique e o Davi começaram juntos há cerca de 6 meses, a Maria Luísa começou agosto, e o Glauco e a Isabela começaram em setembro. Eles tem uma aula individual e uma em grupo por semana, ambas de 30 minutos de duração. No dia 16 de setembro de 2017, Davi e Henrique se apresentaram pela primeira vez. Foi muito legal.

Pedro Azevedo with young students

 

SC: You are, I think, the only Brazilian who teaches the Suzuki trumpet method. Tell me about your decision to get certified, your experience in Calgary last summer and your studio now.

PSA: The reason I took the philosophy course in 2013 was for the possible completion of the trumpet course in a distant future. I really thought it would be something really distant because the teacher trainer is Swedish, etc. I’ve always been, in fact, still impressed with the efficiency of the Suzuki method. My wife teaches at home and in the studio, so I see the progress of her students very closely.

About Calgary, I knew very late about this course. A friend of mine, Fábio dos Santos, Suzuki violin and viola teacher, was at the last conference in Minneapolis to give a lecture, and met Natalie DeJong, with whom he knew about the Suzuki Summer Institute in Calgary. It was crazy! We run behind sponsorship, crowdfunding, help from relatives, friends, Suzuki community, because leaving Brazil at the time of the Olympics heading to Canada on vacation is very, very expensive! Even more so if the ticket is purchased near the day of the trip!

But the problem was not just the ticket. I forgot the visa! It was insane, I sent many emails to the Canadian consulate in Brazil, I went there at the door, even though I could not enter, I called, and so on. The visa was ready the day before the trip! The consulate advanced the delivery, which is something very unusual around here. To conclude, on the day of the trip was the first day of the Olympics in Rio, I was stuck in a jam for a long time. It did not delay the flight, but it made me very worried.

I got a scholarship from SAA that covered approximately 25% of the course fee, and a further 50% from Mount Royal University. In short, I got help to pay about 70% of the flight ticket, 75% of the cost of the course, and I stayed at Natalie DeJong’s house, who helped me a lot in this process. I am eternally grateful. Another key person in this process was Marg Caspell, who also helped a lot.

About the course, for me it was a watershed. I really did not know how to start an adult student on the trumpet, which will tell a child. The content was excellent and was transmitted very clearly. I had the opportunity to meet other trumpet teachers (like you, Stan hehe) from completely different realities, and that was quite enriching.

I am currently a trumpet teacher at the Suzuki Center in Campinas, a studio with more than 35 years of only Suzuki teaching. In Brazil, we have two Suzuki teacher trainers, and one of them is founder of this Studio, Prof. Shinobu Saito. I have 4 students: Henry, 4 years old; David of 10 years; Maria Luísa, 14 years old; Glauco, 9 years old; and Isabela, 9 years old. Henrique and David started together about six months ago, Maria Luisa started in August, and Glauco and Isabela started in September. They have an individual lesson and a group lesson per week, both 30 minutes long. On September 16, 2017, David and Henry introduced themselves for the first time. It was very cool.

SC: Qual direção da carreira você quer ir de onde você está agora?

PSA: Pretendo seguir a carreira acadêmica, mas não quero deixar de lado a performance. Penso em montar um quinteto de metais ou alguma outra formação e sair por aí tocando. Tenho um projeto de montar um duo de violino e trompete com minha esposa, mas isso ainda não aconteceu rsrs. Tenho interesse também e aprender a tocar trompete barroco, mas aqui no Brasil é difícil conseguir esses instrumentos. Na verdade, é difícil conseguir qualquer instrumento. Normalmente alguém vai para fora do Brasil e traz para vender aqui. Comprar em lojas é inviável! São muitos impostos, fica muito caro.

SC: What career direction do you want to go from where you are now?

Alan Siebert (trumpet professor at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music) with Pedro Azevedo

PSA: I intend to pursue the academic career, but I do not want to leave aside the performance. I think of putting together a brass quintet or some other group and go out there playing. I have a project of putting together a violin duo and trumpet with my wife, but this has not happened, yet. I am also interested in learning to play baroque trumpet, but here in Brazil it is difficult to get these instruments. In fact, it is difficult to get any instrument. Usually someone goes out of Brazil and brings it to sell here. Buying in stores is unfeasible! It’s a lot of taxes, it’s very expensive.

SC: Quando você não está tocando e ensinando trompete, o que você gosta de fazer?

PSA: Gosto de brincar com meu filho, ir ao parque, ficar com minha família.

SC: When you are not playing and teaching trumpet, what do you like to do?

PSA: I like to play with my son, go to the park, and hang out with my family.

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George Mason University Trumpet Day

As a member of the trumpet faculty at George Mason University, I am proud to announce our “GMU Trumpet Day,” which will take place on Sunday, November 12, 2017. 

All trumpeters are invited to come and the event is free, but please register so we can plan. You can register here.

There will be master classes, solo performances, ensemble performances, and coaching sessions from GMU trumpet faculty members: Dr. Dennis Edelbrock, Dr. Kevin Gebo, Prof. Kenny Rittenhouse, and myself, Stanley Curtis. I will be playing one of my new compositions, so I hope to see you there!

Here is poster which explains it all!

 

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Interview with African-American trailblazing trumpeter, Jewitt White.

Mus3c Jewitt Lorenzo White, Sr.

Jewitt Lorenzo White Sr., born on March 6, 1921 in Paris, Texas, was the oldest of four boys born to Viara and Luther White. He began his music studies in Gary, Indiana.  

Jewitt’s Conn trumpet and case that accompanied him during his enlistment in the U.S. Navy


After Jewitt’s parents purchased a Conn trumpet for him, he eventually won first chair in the Roosevelt High School band.  He also went on to play trumpet in the band at A&T University (North Carolina) during his undergraduate studies. During WWII, he won a billet in the groundbreaking “B-1 Band” which was the first band in the U.S. Navy comprised of African Americans to serve in a rank higher than messman.  

In addition to his other duties while serving in Hawaii from 1942-1944, Jewitt was tasked to play Taps and Reveille on bugle for the Manana Barracks military base.

After the war, Jewitt supplemented his income by continuing to play trumpet with entertainment bands in the evenings (after teaching school during the day). And he continued to play while he worked on his master’s degree at Iowa State University and his doctorate degree at Penn State University, so that he could earn additional income for his family: his wife, Mae Foneville (Mitchell) White; his son, Jewitt L. White Jr.; his two daughters, Ramone White (Woodard), and Mae Rosalind White.

Interview with Jewitt White, African-American trumpeter who played in WWII band, overcoming racial barrier to higher ratings in US Navy

The interviewer is Stanley Curtis


 

SC: Mr White, this is really an honor for me to chat with such a groundbreaking WWII veteran. How did you get interested in music?

JW: My mother’s brothers were in a high school band. The older brother played tuba and the younger played trumpet. This youngest brother began to teach me how to play trumpet at age 9, teaching me all the scales. Later, he would take me to his high school jazz band rehearsals and encouraged me to play with them.

By the time I was in high school, which was Roosevelt High School in Gary, Indiana, I was playing first chair in the band.

After high school, I went to North Carolina, to attend North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Not only did I study agriculture there, but I played in the band every year.

I also played for weddings and parties while I was a student. These gigs payed really good—sometimes as much as $12-14 dollars for the evening! That was a lot of money back then!

I also met my future wife while I was a student at A&T. Her name was Mae Foneville Mitchell. Her father did not want us to date, because she was so young. She was a very young college student, having started college at age 15. Eventually, with WWII looming over us, we decided to elope.

 

SC: Who were your early musical influences and teachers?

JW: I loved to listen to Louis Armstrong.  I also liked Walter Carlson’s playing a lot. He was a member of the B1 Band and later became the band instructor at A&T.

 

SC: Tell me about how you enlisted in the Navy?

JW: I was walking on campus, and I ran into my band director talking to a recruiter for the Navy. This recruiter was retired but he wore his uniform, which had stripes all the way up his arm. I was very impressed. He asked me to come play for him at the band room later that day. So, I came and played. After he listened to me, he told me, “Okay. I think you’ll be just fine!” That’s how I joined the B-1 Band.

 

B-1 Band in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

SC: What were some of your most memorable performances as a member of the B1 Band?

JW: Sometimes in band I would play lead, but sometimes I would play solos. We had dozens of tunes in our book, but my favorite piece to play was “Stardust.” I enjoyed soloing on that tune!

 

Mus3c Jewitt White playing bugle calls

SC: What was it like being a part of the B1 Band?

JW: They didn’t let us stay in the normal barracks, because we weren’t allowed.

Every morning, I would play reveille, and every evening I would play Taps. This was noteworthy, since it was the first time, to my knowledge, that an African American was given the duty or even the opportunity to play these bugle calls.

 

 

Pre-flight Dinner in Chapel Hill, NC, before B-1 Band deployed to Hawaii. Seated on far left, Mus3c Jewitt White and his wife, Mae Foneville (Mitchell) White

SC: Did you stay in North Carolina for the whole war?

 

JW: No. They shipped us off to Hawaii.

 

 

SC: What did you do after the war? Did you continue with music?

JW: After the war, I went back to school to get my master’s degree at Iowa State in education and agriculture. I also nearly finished my Ph.D. in science at Penn State. And during all this time I played dances to earn additional income. I got a job in Clinton, North Carolina teaching. Then I was appointed professor at West Virginia State, teaching science. Finally, in Gary, Indiana, I was a teacher trainer and then director of vocational education at the Gary, Indiana Tech and Vocational School. I retired in the 1980s.

 

SC: Because I am doing this interview for trumpeters, I always like to talk about equipment. What trumpet or cornet equipment did you play when you were playing with the B1 band?

JW: My trumpet was a Conn, which my parents purchased for me when I was in high school. The trumpet is still in my family. I loaned it to one of my granddaughters who played it when she was a member of her high school band in the early 1990s. The trumpet is still in great shape and is kept in its original case. It is in the possession of my oldest granddaughter, Jacqueline Woodard who lives in Maryland and works for the government in Washington, DC.

 

Jewitt (center, age 96 at time of interview) with two daughters, Mae Rosalind White (left) and Ramone (White) Woodard (right)

SC: Do you have any advice for the younger generation of trumpeters?

Do the best you can. All the time!

 

 

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David Hickman: tireless trumpeter, businessman, innovator, and pedagogue

Trumpeter David Hickman

David Hickman is considered one of the world’s pre-eminent trumpet virtuosos, and has performed over 2,000 solo appearances around the world as a recitalist or guest soloist with over 500 different orchestras.  His tours have taken him to Japan, Korea, Spain, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, France, Austria, Canada, Mexico, Switzerland, Greece, Russia, Thailand, Costa Rica, Australia, and virtually every major American city.

Hickman has released 19 solo albums encompassing a wide variety of repertoire—from cornet solos by Clarke, Levy, and others, to modern concerti by Planel, Baker, and Plog; from Baroque works of Bach, Telemann, and Hertel, to recital pieces by Chance, Dello Joio, and Mendez.

As a noted clinician and author, Hickman has presented workshops on over 400 major university campuses.  He has taught at the Banff Centre for the Arts (13 summers), Rafael Mendez Brass Institute (32 summers), Bremen Trumpet Days, and dozens of music festivals.  He has published over 40 articles, 250 scholarly editions of trumpet music, and several important trumpet and music texts including Trumpet Pedagogy: A Compendium of Modern Teaching Techniques, Trumpet Greats: A Biographical Dictionary, The Piccolo Trumpet, The Piccolo Trumpet Big Book, Trumpet Lessons With David Hickman (vols. I – V), and Music Speed Reading, a sight reading method used by hundreds of public school systems and universities or conservatories including The University of North Texas and The Juilliard School. His 500-page book, Trumpet Pedagogy: A Compendium of Modern Teaching Techniques, is the number one text for university study and is used at over 200 schools of music around the world. His 1,100-page book, Trumpet Greats: A Biographical Dictionary, contains biographies of over 2,200 well-known trumpeters from 1600 to the present.

David Hickman received his B.M. degree at the University of Colorado in 1972.  He continued graduate work at Wichita State University where he was a Graduate Trumpet Teaching Assistant for two years.  He taught at the University of Illinois from 1974 to 1982, and since then has been teaching at Arizona State University where he is a Regents’ Professor of Music.  He has been a member of the Wichita Brass Quintet, Illinois Brass Quintet, Saint Louis Brass Quintet, Baroque Consort, and the Illinois Contemporary Chamber Players.

Hickman is founder and president of the acclaimed Summit Brass, a large all-star American brass ensemble that has released 11 CDs, toured the world, and hosted annual brass music institutes for thousands of aspiring musicians.  He is also a past president of the International Trumpet Guild (1977-79).  Mr. Hickman is a Shires Performing Artist.  In 2005, Hickman established his own music publishing company, Hickman Music Editions. In addition, he established and directs the Rafael Méndez Library at Arizona State University (since 1993) through a generous gift from the Méndez family.

Hickman’s teachers include Harry E. McNees, Frank W. Baird, Oswald Lehnert, Walter J. Myers, Roger Voisin, Armando Ghitalla, and Adolph Herseth. His former students occupy or have occupied hundreds of orchestra, band, chamber music, and university positions.

Hickman received the International Trumpet Guild’s prestigious “Award of Merit” for outstanding service to the trumpet world in 2005, and in 2017 was awarded ITG’s highest award, the “Honorary Award,” for legendary status as a performer and teacher.  He is the only person to have received both of ITG’s top awards.

Equipment:
Trumpets and Cornets: 
SE Shires B-flat Trumpet (model AZ), gold-plated 
SE Shires C Trumpet (model 401), gold-plated 
Blackburn 5-valve C Trumpet, gold-plated with custom engraving 
Yamaha E / E-flat (sliding bell) Trumpet, gold-plated 
Millens F Trumpet (once owned by Roger Voisin), gold-plated 
Yamaha  B-flat / A Piccolo Trumpet (model YTR 9830), gold-plated 
Yamaha B-flat Cornet, silver-plated 
 
Mouthpieces: 
Giddings “Hickman-model” stainless steel trumpet mouthpiece  (deep cup) 
Giddings “Hickman-model” stainless steel trumpet mouthpiece (medium cup) 
Giddings “Hickman-model” stainless steel trumpet mouthpiece (shallow cup) 
     (Note:  All of the above mouthpiece have identical rim sizes and shapes.)
Schilke Custom Trumpet-Flugel trumpet mouthpiece (with same rim as above, only made with delrin plastic) 
Endsley Custom Cornet mouthpiece (deep “V-shaped” cup with delrin plastic rim same as
      above)

 

Interview with David Hickman, untiring trumpeter, business man, innovator, and pedagogue

The interviewer is Stanley Curtis


SC:  David, thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview.  Your contributions to the trumpet world are amazing in so many different ways!

DH:   My pleasure.  Thanks for the nice compliment.

SC:  How did you get your start in music and trumpet playing?  Can you speak to some of your influences when you were young?

DH:  I grew up in a small town in western Nebraska. . . Kimball, with a population of about 3,000 people.  The town had one elementary school, one junior high, and one high school.  The town band director was Harry McNees, whose main instrument happened to be cornet. 

I decided to join the sixth-grade band because one of my best friends said that his parents wanted him to join.  His grandfather passed down an old cornet to him, so I decided to play cornet, too.  We figured we could sit together and have fun goofing off.  The only problem was that he practiced, and I didn’t, so he was first chair and I was last.  We sat clear across the room from each other!

I was thinking of quitting the band, but one day the director asked me if I wanted to take private lessons from him after school.  Because I was sort of a struggling youth who was constantly in trouble for everything imaginable, I was very surprised that a teacher took an interest in me, so I asked my parents if they were willing to pay the private lesson cost of fifty cents per week for a thirty-minute lesson.  Of course, they were thrilled to see me wanting to do ANYTHING positive, so they agreed immediately.  McNees was the biggest influence on my career.  Without his mentoring, teaching, and friendship, I think my career might have been making license plates at the state penitentiary!  Soon, I was the best player in the band, and I began performing little solos for various things.  It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed the attention I had been craving. . . but now it was positive attention.

The first trumpet album I ever owned was given to me as a birthday present by my grandfather. It was of Rafael Méndez, and I was amazed to hear what the trumpet could do.  As a result, I decided that I wanted to be a professional soloist like Méndez.  Of course, I could never attain the level he did. . . but who can?!

SC:  Well, you have gotten closer than most of us, David! Why did you decide to study trumpet at the schools you did?  What was your impression of your teachers (and fellow students) at this time?

DH:  When I graduated from high school in 1968, very few universities offered performance degrees at the bachelor’s level.  My parents could not afford to send me to some of the top conservatories, and I doubt that I played well enough to get into one of them.  In looking around, the University of Colorado in Boulder (only 150 miles from my hometown) was the best choice.  I studied with Dr. Frank Baird.  He straightened out a lot of weaknesses in my playing.  Several of the graduate students at CU were amazing, and became good friends and inspiring colleagues.  They included Gerald Endsley, Ritchie Clendenin, and Bryan Goff, so I always had strong competition. By the time I graduated, I had won numerous state, regional, and national solo competitions, as well as principal chair of the National Repertory Orchestra (in the summers of 1971 and 1972). 

I selected Wichita State University for my master’s degree because I knew that Dr. Walter Myers was a respected teacher and player, and the graduate trumpet assistantship I received included playing in the faculty brass quintet (Wichita Brass Quintet) and the Wichita Symphony Orchestra.  I also taught eighteen private students, all music majors, which gave me a lot of teaching experience.  True, I think I could have received full scholarships to several top conservatories, but by this time I wanted to focus on a solo career.  All of the conservatories were centered around orchestra playing.  While at WSU, I won several more prestigious solo competitions, began releasing LP recordings with orchestra, and was selected as the National Trumpet Symposium’s “Young Artist,” which involved performing a full concert of concertos with orchestra during the 1973 NTS in Denver.

SC:  How do you compare studying music in the 1970s to now?

DH:  It’s pretty much the same, but students these days have quick reference to recordings and videos.  Also, nearly all universities now offer performance degrees at the bachelor, master, and doctorate levels, so there is more competition and performing opportunities at schools.  There are also tons of summer opportunities to study with leading performers.

SC:  Which trumpeters have been your favorites over the years?          

DH:  Wow, there are so many.  When I was in elementary and junior high school, my favorites were Rafael Méndez, Al Hirt, and Doc Severinsen. . . all of whom are still my favorites.  In high school, I began to listen to Roger Voisin, Adolf Scherbaum, Armando Ghitalla, Maynard Ferguson, and early Maurice André.  These days, I also enjoy listening to lots of recordings and performances by Timofei Dokshitser, Derek Watkins, Ronald Romm, Allen Vizzutti, Eric Aubier, Arturo Sandoval, Reinhold Friedrich, Matthias Höfs, Jens Lindemann, Sergei Nakariakov, Philip Smith, Allan Dean and several others.

One of my other teachers was Adolph Herseth, who I studied with on a monthly basis for eight years.  Hearing him in the Chicago Symphony was very inspiring!

SC:  I remember when I was a student at the University of Alabama in the 1980s, our library had only a few trumpet recordings. . . a couple of Maurice André and one of you.  You were my role model for a few of the basic repertoire pieces.  Thanks!  As a performer, what have been your favorite projects?  If you had to pick only one of your recordings for the future library, which one would it be?

DH:  You are too kind!  I think that I enjoyed performing the Summit Concerto by Michael Conway Baker the most.  Michael is a Canadian composer who I got to know during the early 1990s, and I commissioned this 20-minute work from him.  I recorded it with the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus (OH) with Dr. Timothy Russell conducting, and also performed it with several orchestras around the country.  However, my artists management had difficulty convincing conductors to program this work because many thought it was too romantic.  I think they wanted this new piece to sound more modern, even though audiences loved this work.  It is available on a CD titled “Three Trumpet Concertos” (Summit Records), which also features the first recording of Tony Plog’s Concerto for Trumpet and Brass Ensemble (recorded with the Summit Brass) and Robert Planel’s Trumpet Concerto (with the Naples Philharmonic).  I think this album best represents my playing of all of my recordings.

SC:  You started the Summit Brass, a 15-piece all-star ensemble that has been going for more than thirty years.  I remember seeing you perform with it in 1989 and 1991 (when I was in the National Repertory Orchestra, almost twenty years after you!).  What have been your biggest challenges and rewards from your time at the helm of this amazing brass ensemble?

DH:  I started Summit Brass during the summer of 1984, but it wasn’t until the summer of 1986 that were gave our first concerts.  Since it is a non-profit corporation, the biggest challenge has always been fundraising.  We are fortunate that the family of Rafael Méndez has supported scholarships for students to attend our annual Rafael Méndez Brass Institute in Denver each summer for the past ten years. 

Summit Brass has toured the world, released eleven CDs, and performed at such venues as Orchestra Hall in Chicago, Alice Tully Hall in NYC, the Hollywood Bowl, Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, and in many hundreds of cities.  I think the most satisfying thing about it is the long-term relationships the members of the group have had with each other.  Through Summit Brass, many of the leading brass stars of the world are my best friends.  Summit Brass has also helped develop the repertoire for this type of group.

SC:  Perhaps your biggest contribution to the trumpet world has been your teaching. 

David Hickman and friends at tribute concert

DH:  I think you are right, Stan.  Teaching has been the center of my career for over forty-five years.  I take great pride and gratification from seeing hundreds of my former students land significant jobs with major orchestras, chamber groups, bands, and universities.  In fact, about thirty of my former students were able to be at this year’s ITG Conference in Hershey, PA, and performed a tribute concert in my honor to recognize the Honorary Award given to me by the ITG.  It was a fantastic concert, put together with only one rehearsal (!), and I had a huge smile on my face the entire time.

SC: I do wish I could have seen that concert. I bet it was amazing! What teaching ideas of yours do you hope will be the most lasting?

As for what teaching idea I hope will continue through my students and theirs, I would have to say the word “pedagogy.”  Pedagogy is the study of various teaching methods, and my book, Trumpet Pedagogy, stresses that there is no single way to teach an instrument.  Each student has a unique set of skills, physical set up, and musical awareness.  Forcing all students to play exactly like the teacher will result in the majority of students failing.  A good teacher knows several ways to approach physical and musical problems, and can help each student find the best way for them. . . even if it is contrary to their own.

SC:  A few years ago, you helped design a five-valve trumpet with Clifford Blackburn.  Can you tell me about this instrument and why it is important?

DH:  Back in the mid-1970s, I was fortunate to briefly study with Roger Voisin and Armando Ghitalla.  Both of them played C trumpets with an extra (ascending) valve that cut off part of the leadpipe or tuning slide to raise the key of the instrument to D.  They showed me all sorts of musical passages in the repertoire where the fourth valve could make trills, fingerings, or intervals easier.  The advantages of the four-valve trumpet were instant and amazing.  Of course, Voisin’s trumpet was made many decades ago by the French company, Thibouville-Lamy, which no longer makes instruments.  Ghitalla had a similar instrument made by William Tottle in Boston, but Tottle had retired, and later died in 1976.

I took photos and measurements of Ghitalla’s C/D trumpet to a talented brass repairman named Ron DiVore at the University of Illinois where I taught from 1974 to 1982.  DiVore made a four-valve C trumpet for me that worked quite well, and I performed on this instrument for several years.  (One of my albums for the Crystal Records label, “David Hickman with Eric Dalheim,” has a photo of me playing this instrument on the cover.  I use the instrument on the Dello Joio Sonata contained in the album.)  The only reason I stopped playing this instrument was because the bore sizes of the trumpet (a Bach large bore C) and the rotary (4th) valve (off of a French horn) did not match well.  The instrument felt “stuffy.”  However, I knew that if the bore sizes could be made to work together, the instrument would be fantastic.

Hickman-designed 5-valve trumpet, made by Clifford Blackburn

I made a design of a five-valve C trumpet in 2011.  It took me a couple of years to develop accurate drawings and to perfect the design.  The fourth valve was designed to lower the pitch one-half step, placing the trumpet in B-natural.  The fifth valve was designed to cut off some tubing, raising the overall pitch a whole step to D.  If the fourth and fifth valves are added at the same time, the pitch goes up a half-step to D-flat.  Thus, the instrument can play in D, D-flat, C, and B-natural, but it is mainly a C trumpet.

I showed my drawings to Cliff Blackburn in 2014, and he liked the concept.  He began building the trumpet within a couple of months, but wanted to change some of my designs, which ultimately improved the instrument a great deal.  We worked on the prototype, adjusting bore sizes (it has a progressive bore) and valve slide lengths until we came up with an instrument that played extremely well.  To our surprise, it plays in-tune well enough for any of the four key centers to be set by locking down the forth and/or fifth valves, and playing entire passages in either D, D-flat, C, or B.

Cliff and I presented a lecture-demonstration on the instrument during the 2015 ITG Conference.  I also made two 20-minute videos of me playing various orchestral passages on the instrument.  To date, Blackburn Trumpets has built numerous five-valve C trumpets that are being used by professional orchestral trumpeters and soloists.  Like any radical idea, change by the masses is slow. . . similar to the gradual adaptation of double and triple horns over the past 150 years.

SC:  What do you think your single most important contribution has been?

David Hickman, remarkable trumpeter and teacher

DH:  Hard to say.  I categorize my main contributions into eleven areas: performing as a soloist; recording artist; teacher; brass quintet performer; founder and president of Summit Brass; founder, president, and once owner of Summit Records; one of the founders, presidents, and conference hosts of ITG; founder (through the generous support of the Méndez estate) of the Rafael Méndez Library at Arizona State University; founder and owner of Hickman Music Editions; instrument designer and consultant with Blackburn Trumpets and SE Shires Trumpets; author.  I suppose history will decide in time, but I feel that my teaching is the most important contribution because it can affect several generations of trumpeters directly and indirectly.

SC:  What advice do you have for young trumpeters today?

DH:  Stick with it.  Never give up.  Embrace the concept of “pedagogy” by trying different approaches to every problem.  Eventually, you will succeed.

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

DH:  My wife, Miriam, and I are super movie buffs and love to travel.  We also enjoy our two dogs and two cats.  I used to be very much into offroad Jeeping and enjoying the Arizona desert, but I have had to give that up for health reasons.

SC: Well, thanks so much for your time, David. It has been a pleasure!

DH: Thanks, Stan.  We all appreciate what you do!

 

 

 

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Interview with Julian Zimmermann, natural baroque trumpet soloist

Julian Zimmermann

Baroque trumpeter Julian Zimmermann grew up in Kriens, Switzerland (near Lucerne). After receiving a trumpet teaching diploma from Bern University of the Arts (studying modern trumpet with Marc Ullrich and Markus Würsch), he went on to study the natural baroque trumpet (without vent-holes) at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis with Jean-François Madeuf, where he earned a master’s degree in Early Music Performance.

In groups like Capriccio Basel, De Swaen, Berlin Baroque, Neue Hofkapelle Graz, Jeune Orchestre d`Atlantique, Das kleine Konzert, and Trondheim Baroque, Julian has worked with such renowned directors as Philipp Herreweghe, Hervé Niquet, Jos van Immersel, Herrman Max und Sigiswald Kuijken.

Instruments:
17th-century repertoire (Fantini, Schütz, Lully, Torelli, Biber):

Natural trumpet in C, A=466 (or, D, A=415), made by Aron Vajna (after Michael Nagel)
Mouthpiece: Egger-Renaissance trumpet mouthpiece with short 17th-century back-bore, altered slightly by Nathaniel Wood

18th-century continental repertoire (Bach, Telemann, Fux, early Mozart, Haydn)

Natural trumpet In D, made by Graham Nicholson (after Wolf Wilhelm Haas, 1730; since the Engraving says 1730 the maker would have been Wolf Wilhelm Haas)
Mouthpiece: Graham Nicholson, after Leichnamschneider (Graham Nicholson can be contacted at graham.nicholson “at” inter.NL.net) 

Museum trumpet by Wolf Wilhelm Haas (Basel Music Instrument Museum)

Natural trumpet in C, made by Aron Vajna (after Friedrich Ehe, ca. 1700)
Mouthpiece: Egger, MZ-Prototype (mouthpieces developed by Egger with input from Jean-François Madeuf and Julian Zimmermann: this line has a longer back-bore than the standard Egger Bull model. Note: this line of mouthpieces is not advertised on the Egger website at this moment; it is necessary to ask for it by contacting them directly)

Tirarsi (slide trumpet) in Eb, body made by Graham Nicholson (after Ehe with altered bellform) and slide made by Egger
Mouthpiece: MZ-Prototype, Egger

18th-century English repertoire (Handel, Arne)

Natural trumpet in Eb, made in collaboration with Nathaniel Wood (after Nicholas Wingkings, English maker, mid. 18th Century)
Mouthpiece: Bull 1/3 (original Bull) known from the article on early British mouthpieces by Eric Halfpenny, Graham Nicholson. (for more information, see this scholarly article)

Nathaniel Wood and Julian Zimmermann after finishing the Wingkings trumpet.

 

Early 19th Century “Classical” repertoire (Beethoven, Mendelsohn)

“Inventions-trumpet” with original bell dimensions made by Aron Vajna (after Michael Sauerle)
Mouthpiece: Egger KSB-4, KSE-4 and KFG-3

Interview with Julian Zimmermann, natural baroque trumpet soloist

The interviewer is Stanley Curtis


SC: Thanks for agreeing to do this interview, Julian! I have really enjoyed seeing some of your videos that you have recently posted!

JZ: My pleasure, I am very happy for the positive resonance of those videos and I hope they give motivation to trumpet players discovering real historical instruments, because, as you know yourself, playing them is fun, it brings us back to the core: singing with our instrument.

SC: Tell me about your childhood—how did you get interested in music and in the trumpet?

JZ: I grew up in Kriens which is a small city, near Lucerne, in the center of Switzerland. My mother was very supportive when it came to arts, and she listened to a lot of classical music. When I was quite young, I enjoyed listening to CDs of Glenn Miller and Louis Armstrong, while building Lego-Castles.

At age seven, I went to a presentation of musical instruments at a local music school, where I met my first teacher. A year later, Ying Nie, a Chinese student of renowned British trumpeter, Philipp Jones, started teaching me. He introduced me to recordings of trumpeters like Maurice André, Timofei Dokschitzer, and Rafael Méndez.

SC: When and how did you get interested in Baroque trumpet and, specifically, the natural trumpet?

JZ: My first exposure to the baroque trumpet was when I were about 16 years old in what Teacher-training College. I got the Vol. 4 of Niklas Eklund’s “The Art of the Baroque Trumpet,” and I was just thrilled. At that time, I didn’t know about the difference between a baroque and a natural trumpet.

SC: Which of your teachers do you think influenced you the most?

JZ: Maybe the stongest influence in my professional formation was Marc Ullrich. I think the most amazing thing about him was that he could play more or less in every style and genre. For more than 30 (or even 40) years he was principal trumpet in Basel (Switzerland). Nevertheless, he really liked to play jazz. He introduced me to the recordings of Clifford Brown (“Clifford Brown with Strings” is still inspiring me when it comes to control of sound color and articulation). And, of course, he was one of the very early students of Ed Tarr. He was basically one of the pioneers with the baroque trumpet.

Marc had this amazing patience and seemed to believe in every student without hesitation. For example, I decided unilaterally during one summer holiday to totally change my embouchure. Imagine a student, who comes to his first lesson in the new semester and is basically not able to play a straight note anymore! Marc just said “Okay, then let’s do it.” So, he guided me through the mental hell that I had chosen (without asking his permission). The embouchure approach and psychological resiliency, which I got through this embouchure change, turned out to be very helpful, when I was able to adapt them later to the natural trumpet. He was a big help, as well, in overcoming parts of my stage anxiety, which was really strong at the time I was studying modern trumpet.

Marc knew both Niklas Eklund and Jean-François Madeuf quite well and strongly suggested that I go to Basel and study with Jean-François.

SC: Tell me about Jean-Francois Madeuf.

JZ: My first “one-on-one” exposure to the natural trumpet (without vent-holes) was in the trumpet room of the Schola Cantorum with Jean-François. I had heard an older recording of him, which left me quite critical about the whole thing. But when I heard him in person about ten years after that recording was made, he sounded so much better! I understood at that moment, how much potential and space for development the natural trumpet still had!

Few people know so much about the natural trumpet, its music and surviving original instruments like Jean-François Madeuf. Since I am a person who likes to question authority, and he has a strong character, I think we were a good challenge to each other, and it really helped me to find my own voice. Today I am happy to call him a colleague and friend.

Schola Cantorum trumpet studio reunion

The Schola offers a diverse curriculum for students from all over the world. It is a place where a lot of different ideas can be pursued and discussed. I spent a lot of time in the cafeteria, hanging around and discussing these ideas with colleagues.

SC: Tell me about some of these colleagues that you met at the Schola.

JZ: I met my wife Daniela, who is the voice of reason to my stubborn trumpet mind. She reminds me that things which are important to me, are not necessarily important to the rest of the world. We played a lot of organ and natural trumpet together. More and more, we realized how a good continuo player is able to mask the intonation clashes: it is all about good voicing.

My colleague, Mike Diprose, is the one who got me interested in reading primary sources and to have a closer look at other instruments than only the trumpet. His big interest were tuning systems and how they fit into the bigger picture.

The last person I would like to mention is Nathaniel Wood. He gave me the incredible opportunity to build instruments together.

SC: What makes you so sure that the natural trumpet was the instrument they played in performances during the 17th and 18th Centuries?

JZ: Of course, I could just say look at all the museum examples of instruments from the time when clarino playing was in its hey-day. They are all natural trumpets. But I think to answer that question it is also good to show examples where iconography, written music and historical figures interlink.

At the court of Schwerin we have the court conductor and composer, Johann Wilhelm Hertel  (1727-1789). He was born in Eisenach into a musical family. Being court composer in Schwering, he wrote three very difficult concertos for trumpet and a double concerto for trumpet and oboe.  He demanded the same, if not higher, level of difficulty from his chief-trumpeter as J.S. Bach did from his trumpeter. Hertel’s trumpeter was Johann Georg Hoese (1727-1801). He was born in Leipzig, so he was seven when Gottfried Reiche (Bach’s trumpeter) died. I am pretty sure Hoese was familiar with Reiche’s performances of Bach, and I am even more sure he heard the trumpeter Ulrich Heinrich Ruhe, Reiche’s succesor. The great thing about Hoese is that we have a picture of him (done in 1770 by painter G.D. Matthieu) playing the natural trumpet in concert.

1770 painting by G.D. Matthieu of musical performance at court of Schwering

He holds his trumpet in one hand and the sheet music in the other hand (if you look closely enough, “clarino 1” is marked on the paper). Note that there is no music stand for him. So how could he operate any finger system on his instrument? That looks like a Haas-made trumpet to me (and in that time it would be the grandson of J.W.Haas, Ernst Conrad Haas).

Also, there is a second picture from Schwerin with three trumpets in concert.

Painting of music concert at court of Schwering (18th C.)

Considering that Hoese was right at the end of the Golden Age of the natural trumpet, I assume it can be viewed as the general way of doing things for that period—that is, playing without fingerholes. Also, we have the iconic pictures of Gottfried Reiche (Bach’s trumpeter).

Portrait, oil on canvas of Gottfried Reiche (1667–1734) by Elias Gottlob Haussmann (1695–1774), 1727

And another of Valentine Snow (Handel’s trumpeter), which show the same evidence of playing the trumpet one hand.

Portrait of Valentine Snow (1700-1770), c. 1753
Artist: Unknown
Location: Fenton House, England

Having said all that, recently a great thing happened. In a phone call with Graham Nicholson (a British trumpet maker and natural trumpet pioneer living in the Netherlands) discussing Reiche and his instrument, Graham said to me “You know Julian, there actually is a picture of Reiche in concert, playing that instrument”. And it is true: Reiche was in Leipzig much earlier than Bach, and there is a picture of Bach’s predecessor Johann Kuhnau (1660-1722) conducting a cantata. We can see Reiche with his round Instrument and two colleagues with long trumpets.

Frontispiece of Leipzig Gesangbuch, Johann Kuhnau, 1710

 

SC: Those are some fantastic images, Julian! I think there is a general ignorance in the early music world about authentic baroque natural trumpets. We have had decades of “period instrument” performances by trumpeters who use fingerholes. I use them, too, for most of my performances, but I have misgivings. Talking with conductors, I usually find a lack of interest in authenticity, and I think conductors mainly want to hear clean, “in tune” trumpet playing. What are your thoughts on this?

JZ: The divine creator obviously had a misunderstanding with Signor Vallotti when defining the laws of nature! (Interviewer’s note: the “Vallotti” system of tuning, named after Francesco Antonio Vallotti, was used in the 18th Century. It is used frequently in baroque music groups today, but its intonation does not line up ideally with the harmonic series of the natural trumpet. In a mathematic sense, the only interval that lines up between the natural trumpet and the Vallotti tuning system are the octaves, because Vallotti gave more emphasis to the 5th than the  3rd in general)

I think the natural trumpet can serve as an instrument to challenge the approach we have with historically informed performance practice (or “HIP”) today. In music, all is interconnected!

But Intonation is a good topic to discuss, what does “in tune” mean? Here is a quote from Tosi in his book on singing:

“… If one were continually to sing only with the above-mentioned Instruments (keyboards), this knowledge might be unnecessary, but since the time that composers introduced the custom of crowding the operas with a vast number of songs accompanied by bowed instruments, it becomes so necessary, that if a soprano was to sing D-sharp like E-flat, a nice ear will find he is out of tune. Whoever is not satisfied in this, let him read those authors who treat of it, and let him consult the best performers on the violin. …”

–Tosi, Introduction to the Art of Singing (Bologna, 1723), page 21 in the English Translation of 1743

To make it short: why do so many schools of the baroque era make a difference between sharps and flats, big semitones and small ones and where is that fact reflected in our current performance practice using keyboard temperaments as a judge of what is right and wrong? The amount of correction to the 11th and 13th partial becomes much smaller when using a “relative,” or “just” system like Tosi describes, where notes change their position with their harmonic function – as opposed to a “fixed” system like Vallotti’s keyboard temperament.

On the other side of the coin, there is a lack of accepting the character and nature of historic trumpets and horns, and this character gives them their identity! This would be as absurd as a conductor talking to a cembalo player: “in this bar, I would like to have a real pianissimo and you are too loud, so please push the key down softer.” After repeating that bar five times, the conductor finally says “it’s getting better!”

SC: What is the way forward to develop an interest in the baroque natural trumpet? Is there some “marketing” type of strategy we need to embrace?

JZ: As a marketing strategy, it is very important to show people historic iconography to our performances, pictures are a lot of times stronger than words. But, as well, we should be able to talk about what we do in context, that shows we have a deep interest in the time where the music we perform comes from. We should expand our knowledge in all possible aspects.

SC: If a trumpeter wants to learn how to play the natural baroque trumpet well, what are some suggestions that you might have for him or her?

JZ: Having a good instrument, with a fitting mouthpiece from the start, helps a lot. Then, you should take separate time from your daily practice, with a rest time of at least three to four hours (so that the different mouthpiece rims don’t confuse the embouchure). And don’t over do it. You should make, for exemple, two 15-minute sessions with a rest in the middle. 

To play with big mouthpieces, it is important to start in the middle register (middle C, 8th partial) with the aperture not too wide open. This is why I don’t use the Tarr method anymore, since it has an approach which is more from bottom to the top. About four years ago, I developed my own routine (something comparable to James Stamp and Vincent Cichowicz). It is on my website www.naturtrompete.ch. I use it today to get well-centered on an instrument. For example, if I have to play in C, which is a low and somewhat clumsy key, compared to D, or if I have to get used to a 17th-century instrument in a short amount of time.

When it comes to music, I think the repertoire from Purcell and Handel are good to start with. Especially because Handel wrote some very good second and third voices, which create a stable low and middle register.

Swiss historic natural trumpet ensemble, Trummet

The third trumpet part is, in a lot of cases, not getting enough attention in our practice. I think it is essential to work on military signals, which we find in Fantini, Mersenne, Philidor, Altenburg and Dauverne. If you carefully consider, for example, Bach’s low trumpet parts, you will not only find the style of military signals, but also the actual signals everywhere in his works with trumpet, as for example, in BWV 119. Another very important aspect is practicing to hear difference-tones as a trumpet section (a good place to start is with Ed Tarr’s second book). The first thing that will convince people is a trumpet team that sounds good as a unit. That was the reason that gave birth to the trumpet ensemble “Trummet” (www.trummet.com).

 

Another thing I would like to mention is that it is very important to get stage experience without holes. To build up the confidence on stage, it is good to increase the stress gradually. I was lucky to meet players, that were supportive with me! Although they usually play with holes, they provided me the opportunity to play third and second parts without holes in the actual concert. That took a leap of faith for them, and I offer my sincere thanks to Henry Moderlak, Frans Berglund, Andy Hammersley, Roland Callmar and Giuseppe Frau.

For (an) interested young students that means: question what your teachers do! Go to the museums! Get a faithful copy of a historic instrument! Practice it with an open mind! Read primary sources! Discuss them with colleagues! Try them out seriously!–Julian Zimmermann

SC: Tell me about the trumpets and mouthpieces you play. Why do you think they are effective for what you are doing?

JZ: I think an important thing to know is that a natural trumpet of fixed length changes its playing characteristics with time according to the player. After playing an instrument for some time, it gets easier to place and vibrate the Fs and As in tune. What is really interesting to me is the experience of playing on some original instrument (one that is found in a museum), and sometimes I can still feel how the original player played on it.

To find out if an instrument is good, I check first to see if the basic notes, the frames, are purely in tune (the tonic and dominant notes). It is also important to say that natural trumpets played with a modern approach are going to sound flat in the low register. But this doesn’t mean the instrument is bad. So, if possible, get a player with real experience to choose an instrument for the beginner!

Today, for 18th-century repertoire, I play a cup with a diameter of 19.5to 20 mm. I have also started to play with larger mouthpiece throats in recent years (up to 5mm in diameter). Those provide more space to move notes, but it’s not for beginners!

Close up of original baroque natural trumpet mouthpiece (made by Jacob Steiger)

SC: What kind of trumpeters and other musicians do you like to work with?

JZ: First of all, I like musicians with an open mind. If someone approaches early music with concepts and sound pictures rooted in the 20th Century, I find it very difficult. I enjoy when people are able to take original information and authentic copies of instruments, and create something aesthetic and beautiful with those ingredients.

Personally, I like an emphasis on a strong, driving bass, and I love, in general, the sound of string instruments strung all in gut—making equal tension on all the strings!  That authentic way of stringing instruments seems to have been predominant throughout the 17th and 18th Centuries. L. Mozart still describes it in paragraph 4 on page 5 of his Violin-School (1756). I find violinists like Oliver Webber amazing to hear!

SC: Tell me about some of your favorite performances.

JZ: I had two performances that really changed me! Both with Bach cantatas, the trumpet parts of which were written for Reiche. The first was during the 2013 Bach Festival Leipzig, where I played Cantata 77 in the Michaeliskirche with students from the Hochschule in Leipzig. I had a lot of discussions with colleagues about which instrument to use to perform it. The first movement is basically a “no brainer.” It says “Tromba da Tirarsi” and it is playable on a single-slide instrument like I have, even though it goes up to high C. The alto aria (“Ach, es bleibt in meiner Liebe,” (no. 5), is the big question. The original part just says “Tromba,” but it has a lot of notes outside the harmonics. Although they are possible to bend, it is quite difficult to play in tune, because Bach voices the 13th partial very often as a perfect fifth and as octave to the bass. This is a harmonic voicing that you can’t really get in tune on a natural instrument, because the 13th partial is so flat. When I went to Egger to get my tirarsi, I talked about it with Gerd Friedel and he asked “what does the text say.” And with this question, he really got to the right point…. It says “Ach es bleibt in meiner Liebe lauter Unvollkommenheit! Hab ich oftmals gleich den Willen, was Gott saget zu erfüllen, fehlt mirs doch an Möglichkeit.” roughly translated: “in my love (to God) there is so much imperfection! Even though I often have the will to do what God tells me, I don’t have the ability.” So, it is about being an imperfect human being that tries so hard and still struggles to get it right. In the end, I decided to do the aria on natural trumpet. It felt very special while performing it, and I had an inner peace which stayed with me the whole aria.

Julian Zimmermann

The other time was the performance of Cantata 66 on Easter 2016. I played it twice that day, in the morning for a church service and in the evening for a concert. In the morning service, there was a moment when the sun was shining into the church, and I was so inspired that it felt like I wasn’t playing it under my own power, but that the music played itself.

SC: Wow, that’s an inspiring story. Julian, what do you think is the future of early music?

JZ: Hopefully, young explorers will enter the field of early music and revive it’s core values. History repeats itself, and early music was born because people felt that authenticity was absent in the traditional way of performance. Today we are there again, because early music is now a huge market, and it is too big and inflexible to deal with new (old) ideas! 

SC: So what can we do?

I think a new subculture will arise. The internet links musicians that are really interested! The great thing is that there are a lot of original texts, schools and iconography already online. This means you can live anywhere and have access to the important information, and that is a game changer.

For interested young students that means: question what your teachers do! Go to the museums! Get a faithful copy of a historic instrument! Practice it with an open mind! Read primary sources! Discuss them with colleagues! Try them out seriously!

SC: What do you like to do when you are not playing trumpet?

JZ: I really like to do Tai-Chi Chuan.

SC: So, what do you want to be doing in five or in 20 years?

JZ: Hopefully still being happy with my family! And playing the natural trumpet, of course, and I would love to get the opportunity to teach interested students.

SC: Julian, thanks again for sharing all of your really great insights into playing early music on the natural trumpet!

JZ: As I said in the beginning, my pleasure!

 

 

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