Zach Petroff | Opinions Editor
It is not everyday that someone of royal stature visits the Bluff, but on Saturday the Mary Pappert School of Music played host to such nobility.
“Michael Sachs, the principal trumpet of the Cleveland Orchestra is sort of a big deal,” said trumpet professor Christopher Wilson. “He’s like royalty in the trumpet world. As far as orchestral trumpet players goes, he may be the best of this generation.”
Wilson, along with another Duquesne trumpet professor, Micah Wilkinson, invited Sachs to partake in the second annual School of Music Trumpet Day event last Saturday.
Visiting trumpeters and prospective students were able to take part in masterclasses, participate in exercises, listen to performances from the local area’s top trumpet talent and perform in a group recital.
It was a day for the music school to, both literally and figuratively, toot its own horn.
“It’s a recruiting event first and foremost,” Wilson said. “In addition to high school students, we have college students from other campuses, such as West Virginia University…We especially target those who are interested in Duquesne and we just make a day of it.”
More than two dozen students from all over the country found their way to Duquesne to take part in Saturday’s Trumpet Day. William Spears, 16, came in from Rochester, New York ,to check out the school of music.
“It’s been an interesting [day] for sure,” Spears said. “There’s been a lot of good information, it’s hard to retain all of it.”
Spears said he was glad he had the opportunity to learn from the “world famous” trumpeter but also enjoyed the mentorship from Duquesne’s Wilson and Wilkinson.
“It’s been a great experience to be able to see your mentors, they gave us great advice,” Wilson said. “And it was great listening to people better than me.”
The day started with warm-up sessions and masterclasses from trumpet professors Wilson and Wilkinson and was then followed by a masterclass with Sachs.
Learning from Duquesne musicians was one of the reasons that a senior at West Virginia University, Philip Wilfong, is considering Duquesne for graduate school
“The masterclasses were great,” Wilfong said. “To get that type of feedback from such great performers has been really fantastic.”
Sachs who joined the Cleveland Orchestra in 1988, has received critical acclaim throughout his over 40-year career.
The Akron Beacon Journal praised Sachs’s complex style.
“Sachs has a radiant tone that flowed freely, regardless of technical hurdles in this 20-minute work. Truly, there was nothing in this idiomatic writing, from fast double-tongued passages to leaping intervals to sleek lyricism, that this player couldn’t rattle off with marvelous security.”
Sachs has also appeared as a guest soloist with domestic and international orchestras along with chamber groups, including the Houston Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Auckland (New Zealand) Philharmonic, Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra (Ostrava, Czech Republic) and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
During the performance, Sachs shared his admiration for one of his former mentors, American composer and trumpeter, Anthony Plog, who both Sachs and Wilkinson studied under.
“I just wanted to take advantage of the opportunity, not only to get a chance to play with [Wilkinson] whose playing is incredibly inspiring to me,” Sachs said. “But also to honor our beloved shared teacher and somebody who we really admire.
Audience members were also able to listen to Sachs, Wilkinson and Wilson perform together and as solo acts.
Sachs performed “A Movement Out the Concerto,” that American jazz trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis wrote specifically for Sachs.
Sachs debuted the piece with the Cleveland Orchestra in April.
“I have to say this is one the great honors and delights of my life, to work with [Marsalis], who is an old and dear friend of the last four years,” Sachs said. “It’s an honor to get to see his creation come to life.”
The trumpeters’ performances were accompanied by Duquesne alumni and pianist Alaine Fink who enjoyed playing alongside the musicians.
“It’s always fun to make music with such amazing musicians,” Fink said.
The day was capped off with an ensemble performance from the students, led by Duquesne doctoral candidate Tim Hering, the mass trumpet ensemble performed Samuel Scheidt’s “Canon for Four-Part Brass.”
Hering, who also participated in the Duquesne trumpet ensemble, had both the role of conductor and student at Saturday’s event.
“It was interesting watching other people teach,” Hering said. “It’s also interesting hearing other people play, because you have a whole range of students here, and they are all very talented, and it’s been nice to listen to each of them.”
And while it was a full day of learning and playing the trumpet for the prospective students, at the end of the day many of the students said what they enjoyed most was the ability to “jam” with their peers.
“Playing with these guys has been one of my favorite parts about today,” said Tyler Querry, 17, from Apollo.
Tony Novak, 15, from South Franklin, said he was able to see how professional musicians played their instruments.
“I learned a lot about sound quality,” Novak said. “And how to make a better sound and really make the trumpet sing.”
The Duquesne orchestra will appear next Tuesday at the Charles J Dougherty Ballroom in the Power Center. Students interested in attending the Mary Pappert School of music can register to audition online, which will be held on Friday. Dec. 1.