Young orchestral trumpeter Philip Hembree, singing with his trumpet

Philip Hembree

Philip Hembree joined the Colorado Symphony as Assistant Principal/2nd Trumpet in July of 2015. A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Philip holds degrees from Indiana University and Rice University. His primary teachers include John Rommel, Marie Speziale, Barbara Butler, Charlie Geyer, and Mark Hughes.
In addition to his tenure with the Colorado Symphony, Philip has appeared in guest roles with the San Francisco Symphony, Houston Symphony, and the Houston Grand Opera. Philip is also an avid chamber musician, performing with the Colorado Symphony Brass Quintet regularly. He also specializes in new music and has worked with several composers to premier new works across the country.
Philip has served on faculty as Instructor of Music at the University of Northern Colorado since 2016. His primary duties include teaching studio lessons and Orchestral Excerpts class in addition to performing faculty recitals. Philip is also passionate about early education and was involved in the young children’s division of Rice University’s JUMP! program. He maintains a private studio in the Denver metro area teaching students of all ages. Philip’s former education experience includes; Guest Lecturer of Brass Technique for the Houston School for Performing and Visual Arts, and Adjunct Professor of Trumpet at Houston Baptist University. He has also presented masterclasses for students of Rice University, University of Colorado, and the National Trumpet Competition.
Philip can be heard on his solo album, “The Trumpet Sings: Lieder, Songs, and Art Pieces” and in ensemble on the album, “Studies in Nature: new music by Karim Al-Zand.” For more information, visit www.philiphembree.com

Equipment:
C: Yamaha Artisan Chicago, Generation 1 C Rotary Trumpet: Schagerl Horsdorff Heavy
Bb: Bach Stradivarius, 43 Bell
Eb: Schilke E3-L
Piccolo: Schilke P7-4

Mouthpieces:
Bb/C: Parke 145-275-24
Rotary: Yamaha 16E4
Eb: 7C (recordings only), Parke 145-275-24
Piccolo: Bach 7EW


Interview with trumpeter Philip Hembree

The interviewer is Stanley Curtis

SC: What was it like to grow up in Louisiana? Did you start your musical journey early on? 

PH: Growing up in Louisiana was wonderful as a child. I grew up in a fairly rural setting on 13 acres in Zachary, a town just north of Baton Rouge. This gave me plenty of room to explore, build small boats for our pond, design and fly remote controlled airplanes, and help care for our horses. The food and culture still lie close to my heart.
My musical journey began with piano in 6th grade. That is where I learned music theory and how to keep time. I then started playing trumpet and taking lessons privately in 8th grade, when my uncle let me borrow his high school trumpet. The band, however, did not need trumpeters at that time so I played baritone for a semester until the director switched me to trumpet (because I could play my entire chromatic scale, and they needed trumpets who could read music well). Then, in high school, the band needed horn players, so I played horn in the concert band for two years while studying trumpet privately and playing trumpet the jazz band. I eventually dropped other instruments after my sophomore year to focus exclusively on the trumpet.

SC: Who were your influences?

PH: My main influences were recordings of Philip Smith, Maurice André, and Håkan Hardenberger. Another big influence was my band director, Jason Venable, who encouraged me to pursue trumpet from an early age.

SC: When did you know that you wanted to be a trumpet player?

PH: During my junior year of high school, I decided that I wanted to major in music. I actually started college as a music education major, but after two years at Indiana, I decided that I wanted to perform on trumpet for a living. I grew up in a family of technical fields; my father and brother are Chemical Engineers, and my mother was a Cytotechnologist. I am the first in the family to pursue music vocationally, and my parents were very supportive of my path but instructed me that, “in order to be employable you must get to the very top of your field.”

SC: You went to Indiana University — so did I! I loved it. How did you find it as a place to
grow musically? You worked with John Rommel. What was he like as a teacher?

PH: Indiana University was a great undergraduate school for me, especially because there were 54 other trumpet majors when I entered as a freshman. This gave me plenty of competition and I was forced to always play to my highest ability in order to audition into the top ensembles. Musically, there were many ensembles at Indiana from which to choose. I was able to participate in the symphonies, wind bands, new music ensembles, and early music ensembles – all helping my development as a musician.

John Rommel, trumpet professor at the IU Jacobs School of Music

John Rommel is a great person and trumpeter, as well as an excellent instructor. I see his instruction as a mix between (Vincent) Cichowicz and (William) Adam, focusing heavily on musicality and breadth of sound. My sound began to open up under John’s teaching, since when I arrived he told me, “you sound like a 1920’s cornetist, not a trumpet.” Since that lesson, I began to shift my sound concept to the Chicago Style of playing, studying Bud Herseth, and Cichowicz. These concepts still lie at the core of my playing, even though I have made significant changes in the years since.

SC: Then, you went to Rice to study with Marie Speziale. And then a year later, Barbara
Butler and Charlie Geyer started teaching at Rice. I’d love to hear how those studios contrasted. Barbara and Charlie are particularly known for turning out a lot of orchestral players. Do they have a special way of teaching that helps?

PH: I was very fortunate to study with all three of these wonderful mentors. I entered Rice University, consequently turning down Northwestern’s offer of admission, knowing that Ms. Speziale was retiring in a year. I was glad to hear that, after I began at Rice, Barbara and Charlie were to succeed Ms. Speziale.
The largest contrast in the studio after the transition was the addition of an undergraduate trumpet program, since it was traditionally only six graduate students in size. The stipulation put upon the undergraduate trumpeters was that they were to be able to fit in and play at a similar level to the masters students. Barbara and Charlie also added two
positions over the next year, bring the studio number up to eight. I do not know what the current ratio is.

Marie Speziale, trumpet professor emerita at the Rice School of music

Under Ms. Speziale, we had one lesson a week, and she would sit in all of the orchestra rehearsals, coaching the trumpets from the balcony. Usually, the comments were to play out, and play clearly while leading the orchestra. She also organized the brass repertoire class, in which the entire brass section would meet every week to play through the major repertoire. I believe that this still occurs at Rice, since it continued during the transition.
Lessons with Barbara and Charlie were structured differently. Each week, we had a ninety-minute lesson with our main instructor (mine was Charlie), and a sixty-minute lesson with the other if we chose. I worked with Barbara on a semi-regular basis, and we addressed my technical playing. My lessons with Charlie consisted of running orchestral audition lists and playing section parts with him. This was probably because I had just been a finalist in the Atlanta Symphony 4th trumpet audition, and Charlie asked me what I wanted to work on. I responded, “win a job before the next year.” I ended up missing my goal by only a year, but more on that later.

Barbara Butler and Charlie Geyer, trumpet professors at the Rice School of Music

I often get asked what special way of teaching Barbara and Charlie have. They would likely respond with, “Nothing special – just common sense, honesty, and encouragement.” I learned that they both have extremely high standards, and will hold you to them. At the same time as pointing out every flaw, they will be a parental figure and encourage you to continually improve and persevere. In addition, they both explain clearly and directly what is required to hold a position in a major symphony, and if you want to become one of those trumpeters, you practice.
Barbara and Charlie also foster a spirit of competitiveness between the students, subscribing to the saying, “iron sharpens iron.” When you have so many great students in one place, you will find someone who excels at something you do not – thus the encouragement to sit down with them and learn that skill; then you must become better at it than they are. This competitive nature works very well because they encourage the students to remove their ego and simply learn. It would be hard to find any two teachers as humble as they are, which provides the students with great role models.

SC: Then you won Colorado Symphony, Assistant Principal/2nd. At a very early age, I
should add! How many big auditions had you taken up to this point? How would you advise young trumpeters wanting to win an audition? How should they prepare? What has it been like to play in the Colorado Symphony?

PH: By the time I won my job, I had attended about twenty-two high-profile, professional auditions: Three semi-finals, and one final round. I gave myself until I was 30 to win a job, or I would quit the trumpet and pursue a different career. Fortunately, I won my job at 25 and did not have to change careers.
It may be helpful to understand that winning an audition is much like playing a game; you must understand the rules in order to win. There are three pillars that are expected at a minimum, and they are: sound, time, and intonation. If you have a captivating sound, perfect time, and great intonation, you will surpass the vast majority of the people who show up for an audition. This is the easy part, since these pillars are fairly objective (note that everyone prefers a different sound, but will vote “yes” on a captivating one).
Next, you must play with an impeccable knowledge of the composers’ style on each excerpt. For example, research and listen to how fortissimo in Beethoven differs from Mahler, Stravinsky, or Copland; the same applies to note length, articulation, and shapes of notes. Show the panel that you have played this literature before and you know how it goes. On top of that, be a musician and have a plan for each phrase that you play in the audition – consequently, if you have a plan, nerves will lessen.

If you have a captivating sound, perfect time, and great intonation, you will surpass the vast majority of the people who show up for an audition.

After all of these concepts, you must be the best person on that given day, which means that your worst day must be better than anyone else’s best day. The harsh truth is that you are no better than your worst, and that in times of stress you will fall back to what is most prevalent in your playing. This means that every time you pick up your instrument you build a habit. Make it perfection of approach, not sloppiness or carelessness. The good news is, that no one plays their best in an audition, and we all make mistakes. I did not play my best when I won, and I chipped a few notes. We are all human, and perfection is unobtainable – the goal is to get as close as possible, and to make our worst better every day.
Preparation is a completely different ball game. Understand that you will eventually fail at an audition and that you have two choices. Either you continue as you always have, or you find out why you were eliminated and never allow yourself to become eliminated for that same reason. As for preparing the excerpts themselves, I separate them into three categories; 1) not learned/cannot play well, 2) good but inconsistent, and 3) perfect every time. Each excerpt starts in one of the three stations, then moves up as it improves. The goal is that by a month out from the audition, all of the excerpts are in the “perfect” or “good” category, with most in “perfect”.
Starting a month out from the audition, I shift my preparation to mock auditions and recordings. I number each excerpt (e.g., 1 – 40) and make lists (using a randomizer) of 5-10 excerpts each. I then play the list, and record it to listen to it the next day. I make sure that I cover all of the excerpts in one day (usually in 3 or 4 practice sessions). The next day, I will listen to each list and separate them into the categories listed above. I proceed to work on the parts that were not acceptable, and then pick a new list; this starts the process over.
By the time the audition arrives, theoretically I will have played all permutations of the list and will be ready for anything that comes my way.
Playing with the Colorado Symphony has been a great experience, and I have learned much since my first days on the job. It is a wonderful symphony and the musicians are generally easy to work with. We, of course, have our disagreements on issues, but they tend to resolve themselves in time.

SC: You teach at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado. What is it
about teaching that you like? I understand you like teaching young players, too. Tell me about that.

PH: I do teach at UNCO. I enjoy teaching students to think, rather than just to play the trumpet. Teaching the trumpet is relatively easy, but producing students that can teach themselves is much more challenging. I constantly challenge my students’ thoughts on their own playing and on that of their peers, asking them to solve complex problems using their own ideas, and not by using simple regurgitations of mine.
My approach to teaching collegiate students is that of a guide, rather than a strict instructor demanding structure at every opportunity. That is not to say that I do not want them to structure their practices well – it means that I help them construct their own technical routines and suggest exercises to add and remove based on their current abilities. This is how I have approached the trumpet since my Masters at Rice and it has served me very well since.
Young students, by contrast, need much more structure. I teach beginners through high school at my home studio, and assign them a technical routine that I devise based on their progression. If the student shows the ability to reason well after a year or two with me, I will start to help them form a routine that they tailor for their specific needs. The high school student who I recently sent to Rice, and now studies with Charlie, was able to successfully do this.

SC: You just came out with a recording of vocal music for trumpet — “Philip Hembree:
The Trumpet Sings.” I just recently heard it and immediately fell in love with the concept, the arrangements and your playing. Give us a glimpse into the making of this recording. How can my readers listen to it?

PH: Thank you! “The Trumpet Sings: Lieder, Songs, and Art Pieces” is an album consisting of all vocal literature arranged for trumpet and piano, with cello featured on two tracks. The goal of these recordings is to show that trumpeters can and should perform works in the vocal repertoire on a regular basis. These works carry similar pedagogical and technical benefits to the vocalises of Bordogni, Concone, and Rachmaninoff. The difference is that these works all include text, that the musician must read in order to gain an understanding of the phrase shapes and articulations required by the different consonant and vowel combinations. I hope that this album will encourage the next generation of trumpeters to focus on musicality in addition to their technical studies.
“The Trumpet Sings” was made in the recording studio at the University of Northern Colorado over the span of four months, and five recording sessions. I spread out the recording process because of my performing job with the Colorado Symphony. It made for a very hectic semester of work, since I taught on Mondays, recorded on Tuesdays, and began rehearsals with the Symphony on Wednesday mornings, and performed concerts from Friday through Sunday. Preparing the music was the easy part – staying in recording shape while playing an orchestral job was difficult.
After scheduling the sessions, we rehearsed each piece about twice and then recorded it at a later date. The process we used for recording was that we played the entire piece top to bottom, while Greg (the recording engineer) and Melissa (my wife, and cellist on the CD) circled the questionable parts in the run. They would relay that information to us, and we would record over the sections in question, and occasionally just re-record the entire work – depending on length and complexity. This process lasted two hours for each session. During the editing sessions, we made every effort to use complete takes when we could in order to maintain the artistic integrity and natural flow of the music.
The album is available for digital download on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, CD Baby, Band Camp, and others. You can also stream the recordings on Spotify and Pandora. I have written out the parts for trumpet and piano, and they are available on my website. www.philiphembree.com

One week until my Album releases!! Here’s a little known work by Shostakovich, entitled “Tender Girl Song,” from the movie The First Train. Originally written for two voices, we have arranged it for trumpet and cello an octave below the original.

Posted by Philip Hembree – Trumpet on Friday, September 7, 2018

SC: I should also mention that you have some wonderful double and triple tongue study books available on your website–I really think they’re great! So, Philip, what do you like to do when you’re not playing the trumpet?

PH: When I am not playing the trumpet I help my wife take care of our 4 month old daughter. Melissa and I enjoy hiking in the mountains of Colorado, especially the trails during wildflower season (early August). I grew up skiing at Winter Park (since I was 5 years old!), and every year I enjoy getting back on the slopes, since I now live within driving distance. I also enjoy cycling around the parks and trails by our house in Morrison – with Dinosaur Ridge and Red Rocks Amphitheater being two of my favorite rides.

SC: Any other words of advice for all those trumpeters trying to do what you do?

PH: Use your failures to your benefit. The best way to grow is to allow yourself to fail often; especially in your practice sessions. I know that if I do not miss notes in my practicing, then I am not taking enough risks. Practice so that your approach to playing is correct, not that it is artificially flawless. I am more afraid of being boring than of playing precisely – this does not mean that you should be sloppy. It means that I take every risk while practicing so that I make mistakes at home where I can address them. Perseverance in the face of failure is what will define your career; you can give up, or you can improve. I have failed more times than I can count, and it hurts every time. But, I get up and do better the next time.
Above all else, be a person that you want to be around. This is the hardest part about being a professional musician and an aspiring student, but will go the farthest when interacting with your peer and colleagues.

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Interview with versatile trumpeter, Perry Sutton

Trumpeter Perry Sutton

Perry Sutton, baroque trumpet, leads a musically diverse life, performing in baroque, orchestral, chamber music, and commercial music settings with equal dexterity. Recent early music credits include: Apollo’s Fire, Washington Bach Consort, Trinity Baroque, Clarion Music Society, and The Portland Bach Experience. Perry has degrees from both Mason Gross School of the Arts: Rutgers University, and Rowan University College of Fine and Performing Arts, having studied with William Fielder, Peter Bond, Kevin Cobb, Bryan Appleby-Wineberg, and Robert Earley.
Perry lives in New Jersey, halfway between New York and Philadelphia. During the times that he leaves the trumpet in the case, Perry enjoys seeking out local craft beer coffee, and tinkering with his golf game.

Equipment:
Baroque: Egger 4 hole long form trumpet with Ehe, Haas, and Bauer bells
Bb trumpet: SE Shires CVLA-ML (Custom Vintage Los Angeles)
C trumpet: SE Shires 4S8 large bore (prototype)
Eb: Schilke E3L
Piccolo: Yamaha YTR-9820
Flugelhorn: Yamaha 731
Cornet: Schilke XA1
I also have a collection of vintage Bach, Benge, and Conn trumpets.

Mouthpieces:
Baroque: Pickett “Hudson 2” similar to an of S7 Egger
Bb/C/Eb: Parke 640-275-24 and Pickett Ingram series
Piccolo: Yamaha 11A4
Flugelhorn: Giardinelli 7F
Cornet: K&G 3B


Interview with trumpeter Perry Sutton

The interviewer is Stanley Curtis

SC: Perry, it’s great to chat with you about your trumpet playing and your career! I wonder if you could tell us about your early interest in music? Why the trumpet?

PS: Hi Stanley! I think like many musicians, my roots in music are principally simple, starting off as just a love of music. I grew up in a house where music was constantly present, either on the radio or listening to my father and/or brother practicing. My father, Frank Sutton, is a four string, plectrum banjo player and my brother, Clay, plays clarinet, saxophones and flute. My father has some of the best ears I’ve ever known and would play everything from Cole Porter and Jerome Kern to Brahms. Clay is also tremendously talented, you give him a little bit of knowledge and five minutes and BANG!, he’s way better at something than you could ever have hoped to be. Decades later, and I still can’t help but be amazed by it. My mother, Peggy, never really played an instrument, but is one of the biggest music lovers and listeners I’ve ever met, her father having been a trumpet player in his younger days. With all of that going on around the house, picking up an instrument was a no-brainer!

I started off playing in the church bell choir around age four or five, and learned to read music before I could actually read English, though the bell choir didn’t last particularly long….

I was always drawn to the trumpet and could not wait to get started as soon as we were allowed to sign up in school.

SC: Who were some of your teachers as you were growing up? How did they motivate you?

PS: Throughout the years, I feel incredibly lucky to have had great teachers both in terms of technique and music, but also the business side of things as well. My very first teacher, with whom I studied for my first ten years of playing the trumpet, was Joe Cataldo, a Philadelphia/Atlantic City freelancer.

Joe Cataldo, Jon Ashcraft, Joe Mosello, Perry Sutton, Jim Stieber (bass trombone) (2009)

Joe was a very special person for me, almost like a second father at times. Anytime I was having chop issues (of which I’ve had plenty over the years), needed advice on anything trumpet, music, or non-trumpet related, he was always the phone call that got me back on track. He was also, like so many of us, a bit of a gear junkie and instilled in me a healthy does of “equipment nerd.” (This would prove very helpful later on in life, both in my trumpet playing career and for my daily work at Dillon Music.) In addition to about a decade’s worth of trumpet lessons, Mr. Cataldo was also my high school band director.

I never really had to be motivated to practice or work hard through school. I would routinely get up at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning to practice, much to the chagrin of my parents, because I just loved playing so much. I have never really loved school as much as I loved learning, so using my own private time to transcribe and practice etudes was my favorite part of the day! I’m not sure that my brother or I ever had to be told to practice so much as we had to be told to STOP practicing so family members or neighbors could go to sleep.

SC: 4:00 in the morning! Wow! What was your college experience like? Did you feel like this time was transformational for you?

PS: My collegiate experience was probably more complicated than it ought have been. When I left for college, I principally had designs on being a jazz/commercial trumpet player, like all of my heroes growing up. I left home to study with William “Prof” Fielder, got to school at Rutgers University, and happened to show up at the same time as Sean Jones, Lee Hogans, and Melvin Jones. Talk about a reality check! I quickly realized that I was in over my head. That, combined with a “chop” injury and I was left figuring out where to go from there.

(l-r) Peter Bond, Bryan Appleby-Wineberg, George Rabbai, Perry Sutton (2015)

The age-old adage of “better to be lucky than good” comes in to play here. I was fortunate to land on my feet in the studio of Peter Bond, of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Looking back, I must have been endlessly frustrating as a student for Pete, but ultimately, he is one of the first people push me out of my comfort zone and get me to ask myself tough questions about how to improve and teach myself. Goals became more specific intentional endeavors and the means of achieving them became more tangible. It was all up to me and how intelligently I wanted to work and how honest I wanted to be with myself. If I’m being fair, I probably owe Pete more pints and “You told me so”’s than either of us would ever admit.

Perry with Roger Ingram and George Rabbai (2013)

Upon finishing my Bachelors Degree, I returned home to South Jersey to pursue a Masters Degree at Rowan University to study with Bryan Appleby-Wineberg and Bob Earley (Philadelphia Orchestra). It was a great studio to be in between Bryan, Bob, and George Rabbai. There was a lot of playing to do, between playing principal in the orchestra, the wind ensemble, several chamber groups, the big band, all while working on my own projects and freelancing in Philadelphia, South Jersey and the Jersey Shore…I occasionally made it to my academic classes. Thankfully, there weren’t TOO many of those to miss.

One of the great advantages for me from attending Rowan was learning how to balance and pace all of that playing. The trumpet was basically on my face from 10:30 every morning until 11pm or midnight each night! To this day, it’s still nice to know that a heavy day of playing doesn’t have to wipe you out, and how to be smart about pacing myself on days with two concerts, or the all too common practice of an afternoon soundcheck that turns into a de facto dress rehearsal. Those two years were a lot of work, but gave me the chance to really push myself and become more conscious of my limitations and how to expand them.

SC: How did you get started in jazz? Who are your influences?

Click to see video link of Perry Sutton, sizzling on lead trumpet

PS: My grandfather was my very first influence on the trumpet and I still remember his admiration for Harry James. For me, years later; I still can remember the very first times that I heard Clark Terry, Jack Sheldon, and Maynard Ferguson listening to LP’s in Joe Cataldo’s living room as an eight or nine year old waiting for me trumpet lessons. Still three of my absolute favorites.

Joe Cataldo Tribute Big Band: trumpet section is Tony DeSantis, Perry Sutton, Kevin Rodgers, Steve Ubiel, Jon Vanore (2017)

Could any trumpet player listen to “Oscar Peterson Trio Plus One” or “Spanish Rice” and NOT want to be a jazz trumpet player? That would have to be impossible! Jack Sheldon’s ballad playing and singing has always really spoken to me, and the Maynard Ferguson “Birdland Dreamband” and “Roulette Years”, what a force of nature!

SC: Tell me about your work at Dillons. How did you get that job? What do you get to do there?

Perry at the Bach Factory, play-testing trumpets

PS: Growing up in New Jersey, Dillion Music was always the Mecca. My teachers always spoke of it with a reverence. It was THE place to go to try gear, meet people, get supplies, and make the hang. I started shopping vicariously through other people probably around the time I was in middle school.

I absolutely ended up there at least once a week in college just to tinker, get custom work done on my horns and mouthpieces, and to geek out a bit while I was in school. Rutgers University was about 15 minute away, luckily for me!

Perry with Claudio Roditi (2013)

I started working for Steve Dillon in the fall of 2008. September 2, 2008 to be exact. I was teaching approximately 30 private students in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs, while attempting to balance that with a freelancing career and was completely burnt out.
Having shopped there for years, I was lucky (again) to have good relationships with a few of the employees at Dillon Music, who would become my colleagues. I had no sales experience, no retail experience, and minimal “people skills” and despite all of that, Steve Dillon took a chance and gave me a job. I can’t ever fully express my gratitude.

Joe Mosello, Perry Sutton, Earl Gardner and Mike Spengler (2017)

Having a father who was both a musician and a machinist and a mother who was a teacher with a great analytical mind, technical specifications and numbers have always made sense to me. Couple that with having a teacher as a child who was, to say the least, a bit of a gear head…I’ve always had a keen knowledge of fitting equipment for players. I still really love solving the puzzle of “what mouthpiece/horn/etc will help this player achieve their goals” regardless of ability level, or application. Nothing at work makes me happier than the A-HA! moment of a player finding something that helps them improve, be it equipment or ideas.

I’d also be lying if I didn’t admit that it is really cool to have so much cool stuff at my finger tips and to be able to try new gear as soon as it comes out. On a similar front, I’ve also been very fortunate to do some R&D work here and play testing for manufacturers and come up with a few horns that really suit me, my needs, and my skill set along the way.

SC: You have made a name for yourself as a baroque trumpeter. How did that come about? What are some of your most memorable gigs in early music?

PS: Back in the first year or two of my bachelors degree, the brass department at Rutgers brought in Kris Kwapis, a fantastic baroque trumpet player, to give a master class and lecture on the baroque trumpet and how to make more informed decisions as a modern player. I was immediately fascinated by tone and timbre of the instrument and wanted to give it a try. The university had just purchased a set of Frank Tomes trumpets, but for whatever the reason, I was not permitted to try one. In one of the few times in my life that discouragement didn’t make me openly defiant and double my efforts, I tabled the idea for close to a decade. But I never lost my love for the instrument, the sound, or the repertoire.

Enter my friend, Phil Baughman, current brand manager for EK Blessing. At the time, Phil was the Sales Manager for Schilke Music/Naumann trumpets. At a few trade shows, Phil noticed me “kicking the tires” on a few of the baroque trumpets during a lull in exhibit traffic and we got to chatting about the baroque trumpet. I knew basically nothing and just starting raining questions at him. Phil was such a pleasure to deal with and before I knew it, I had ordered an Eklund model, 3 hole trumpet with a Haas bell.

Once the horn arrived, I couldn’t put it down! I started playing anything that I could think of, making up exercises, learning excerpts and solos, playing along with recordings, etc. I was hooked! At the time, I had a roommate who is a talented singer, organist, and continuo player, named Ben Berman, who encouraged me to play a recital on his churches concert series, which probably went better than it should have. HA!

Perry soloing with La Fiocco (2013)

Through Ben, I was able to meet a few new early music people and quickly got in over my head playing a BWV 51 and Torelli Sonata with an early music group, La Fiocco in Pennsylvania. Looking back, that was another concert that probably had no business going as well as it did. Being so new to the instrument, but being a competent modern player, it never occurred to me that the program was supposed to be as difficult as I would now view it.

Perry with baroque solo trumpeter Friedemann Immer (2014)

Feeling as though I had scratched the baroque trumpet itch, but too scared to take the next step, I went back to my regularly scheduled modern playing for the next few years until early 2015, where I again found myself restless and somewhat wanting for a change of pace, despite doing some interesting projects and gigs that I thought I “should” be doing. One particular week was a week long gig in NY playing 6 nights with a band where I reached a tipping point. I realized that I couldn’t really go on doing the work that I was doing and maintain a quality of life or sanity. The notion of not enjoying my work, or viewing the trumpet as some kind of chore every time I picked it up was no longer tenable. I spent every night of the gig thinking, on the bandstand, “What would I rather be doing?” “What would make me happy?” Every night, I kept coming back to the baroque trumpet and how I never pursued it to the extent that I should have. I decided that last night that I was done “playing scared” and wanted to jump in with both feet, play for some people, find out what I needed to do to make myself employable, and get to work! It was very empowering.

Over the years, I’ve been blessed to have friends and colleagues that were willing to take chances on me, and this situation is no different. I called a friend who is very involved in the early music community and asked who I should reach out to. She responded almost immediately, “It’s about time. Email John Thiessen.” I set up a lesson with John, who is equally a great trumpet player, teacher, and now, friend and colleague.

After a 2016 performance of Bach’s B-minor Mass with Caleb Hudson and Chris Coletti

In terms of memorable early music gigs, I enjoy the scene so much that there are so many now that I can recall fondly. Some of the more noteworthy experiences would have to be: a New Year’s Ever performance of BWV 248 “Weihnachtsoratorium” in Philadelphia playing section trumpet under John Thiessen and Timothy Will, a very enjoyable semi-staged production of Purcell’s “Fairy Queen” in Pittsburgh playing alongside Steven Marquardt, my first time playing principal trumpet on Handel’s “Occasional Oratorio” with the brilliant trumpet writing in that piece, my first B Minor Mass on baroque trumpet, playing between Caleb Hudson and Chris Coletti, and you and I had a blast playing BWV 248 last December with Josh Cohen for Washington Bach Consort, didn’t we?!?

Like most other things for me personally, the music and the work are beautiful, but it’s the people and the colleagues that make the experiences truly memorable.

SC: It was a lot of fun to play with you and Josh last December! But now I want to talk about a more serious subject–You had a concussion that impacted you for quite a while. Tell us about that. Do you feel that you have gotten past it?

PS: Thanks so much for bringing this up. Back in September 2017, I suffered a Grade 3 concussion following an accident at my apartment. Bar none, this was the most frustrating experience of my life. Over the weeks/months that followed, I experienced memory loss, speech loss, insomnia, was unable to drive my car for a time and had to miss quite a bit of work. Most frustrating of all was having to take approximately four weeks off from playing the trumpet. The silver lining through the first few weeks of recovery was that the weather was gorgeous and I was able to play a lot of golf. Reality began to set in when I had gigs coming up that I wasn’t totally able to prepare for.

Apollo’s Fire brass for Handel’s Israel in Egypt: Steven Marquardt, Greg Ingels, Erik Schmalz, Mack Ramsey and Perry Sutton (2017)

I wasn’t medically cleared to begin playing trumpet again until 36 hours before I had to travel to Cleveland for a concert cycle with Apollo’s Fire. Playing the trumpet with a traumatic brain injury is not something I would recommend to anyone. The first few days back on the horn and the start of the rehearsal schedule were incredibly stressful. My chops themselves actually felt fine, but every time I played the trumpet, I would would suffer some memory loss and confusion. As someone who has always had a good memory and generally felt as though I had my faculties about me, this was nothing short of terrifying and depressing, much like the first few days after my accident. I was beyond frustrated, but somehow I didn’t feel beaten. There was a new challenge and hopefully a way to turn the negative into a positive.

My thinking was, if there is a way to remove some physicality and “effort” from my approach and technique, it would take a lot of the pressure off of my head, and help me to be more efficient. I went back to my old lesson notes from my studies with Pete Bond during college that I had saved in my email and realized that a lot of the concepts and thoughts that Pete had been telling me a decade and a half earlier. As it turns out, I just needed to get hit in the head to realize how to get better! I spent 2-3 hours every morning for the rest of the trip working on making a few tweaks to my approach and setup and by the end of the tour, things had never felt better. Keeping up with that after getting home has given me an extra fifth on my range, eliminated my “break” in the upper register and I have much more control over my tone than I did before.

I wish I could say that my recovery has been all golfing and getting better at the trumpet, but that wouldn’t be at all honest. It is, however, what I choose to focus on. I’ve been so incredibly lucky to have such supportive friends, family and colleagues (especially from that first trip back on the horn) to lean on for support over the last few months. My memory spanning from September to late January is foggy at best, and my recovery hasn’t been at all linear. I think as trumpet players and musicians, we can all relate to putting in concerted and thoughtful practice and hard work and seeing progress. The hardest part of this experience has been how much this injury can have its “Ups and Downs.” Good Days and Bad Days.
As of current date, it has been a year, and it’s been within the last five months that I’ve actually started to consistently feel like myself. I still am dealing with some minor hyperacusis (a type of sound sensitivity) and occasional short term memory issues, but nothing like it had been.

SC: What would you like to be doing five years from now? 

PS: I’m not entirely sure that I have a good answer for that. Lately, I’ve been in a really good place right now and enjoy what I am doing. I love my job, and am doing more and more gigs that I enjoy all the time. I get to spend time with my friends and family and get to travel to some cool places!

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

Golfing with trombonists Adam Machaskee and Conrad Herwig (2017)

PS: As I’ve likely mentioned ad nauseam, I love playing golf any chance I get. I love solving the puzzle of what my game looks like every time I go out to play. Golfing is so much like the trumpet, but there is nothing riding on it for me, so the element of stress doesn’t exist! I also enjoy good coffee (to the extent of having an espresso machine in my bedroom and a coffee maker on my nightstand to have a nice cup in bed while I watch SportsCenter every morning and do a crossword puzzle in bed. I’m a huge Philadelphia 76ers fan, as well as the rest of the Philly sports scene.

Beers after performance of Bach’s Cantata 11 with Brandon Bergeron and Hugo Moreno (2018)

 

I enjoy good craft beer and spend time seeking out local craft breweries both at home and when I’m on the road. I also enjoy frequenting art museums. Notable favorites include: Salvador Dali, William Hogarth, Dutch Golden Age, Da Vinci, and Italian Renaissance painting. I am love seeking out great seafood and am in constant search for the best ramen and fried chicken that I can find!

 

SC: Thanks so much for sitting down to chat about trumpet stuff with me, Perry. I think your story will resonate with a lot of readers!

PS: Thank YOU, my friend; this was a lot of fun. I hope to get to see you and work with you again sooner rather than later!

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