Monday, January 4, 2016

The Commercial Side of Symphonic Playing

Hi Fellow Trumpeters,

I just wanted to share how GR saved my life once again :-).  This is my latest experience working with Gary and I hope that some of you can benefit from it.

This December I was invited once again to play principal trumpet for Classical/Pops Barbados ( check out the link at  This turned out to be a great gig (in paradise) and a good time was had by all, but there was some stress involved for the trumpets.  Here is this year's program for the first night of the festival, “Film Night”: 

John Williams (b. 1932) Superman March

Max Steiner (1888-1971 ) King Kong Overture

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) Mambo from West Side Story

Alex North (1910-1991 ) Suite from Streetcar Named Desire

(arr. McGurty)

Henry Mancini (1924-1994) Moon River from Breakfast at Tiffany's

John Barry (1933-201 ) The Best of Bond

(arr. Tyzik)


Rlchard Strauss (1864-1949( Fanfare from Also Sprach Zarathustra

(2001: A Space Odyssey)

Main Theme from Star Wars

John Williams

(arr. Burden)

John Williams

Miklos Rozsa (1907-1995) Parade of the Charioteers from Ben Hur

James Homer ('1953-2015) Main Title and End Credits from Braveheart

Traditional Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) (no orchestra)

Yoda's Theme torn Star Wars


Mighty Gabby

Hans Zfmmer (b. 1957) Suite tom Pirates of the Caribbean

And of course then there was an encore; “E.T. Adventures on Earth.”  

Now that looks like a pretty typical pops program, until you check out the actual sheet music and see what three players with no assistant have to do.  Very fortunately for me, this year I was joined by Billy Hunter, a principal player from the Met and Larry Larson, principal in Kitchener-Waterloo (a fellow GR guy) so we had a great team.

Steve, Billy, Larry

Once I saw the program and received the music (and realized that my regular orchestral equipment would not cut it for this show) I was trying to find a mouthpiece to get that terrific sound that the LA recording guys do on the movie scores.
Of course since I am a GR dealer and consultant, I do have a few mouthpieces available to try :-).  The closest match I had handy was a 67 M with a #3 backbore; great on C trumpet!  Unfortunately, not being the brightest bulb on the tree I went blasting through the program (on an unfamiliar mouthpiece that was not my normal rim) until I eventually hurt myself.  

Now, in big trouble, with the gig a week away I called Gary and got the piece made in my custom rim. (Don’t be like me. Please plan ahead. Kindly do not do this last minute thing to Gary.)  Soon I was feeling better and by the time the concerts and rehearsals rolled around I am happy to say that the trumpet section got the job done in style and are looking forward to meeting next year in paradise.
I guess the moral of the story is… be prepared!  So if any of you orchestra guys have to play those face busting movie music programs (with no assistant!) it would be a very smart idea to put something like the “Emery M #3BB” in your kit.  Try it. You’ll like it!

Steven Emery
Professor of Trumpet,
New England Conservatory
The Boston Conservatory
The Longy School of Music of Bard College

"It was such an incredible treat to be able to join Steve and Billy in Barbados this year for this wonderful all-star orchestra weekend.  It was fun to be able to chat with Steve about his GR setup, and how much his work with Gary has really been a god-send for his playing.  Having been through a full-fledged fitting session with Brian Scriver about 15 months ago, I can honestly say that my GR pieces have helped me play to a higher and higher level with each passing month.  I now have 5 in rotation for my big horns (C, Bb, Eb) as well as my piccolo, cornet, and flugelhorn pieces.  

For the type of playing that we had to do with the Classical Pops Orchestra of Barbados, going to my 66M was a natural to give me just the right amount of brilliance and sizzle, but still keep the big fat sound that I strive for, both for the Film Music night as well as our Broadway Night  It was fun to hear from Steve that he was basically on something close to a 66M, with his own rim.  As Steve said, I think we did a terrific job of giving the audience that LA Studio sound that they’re used to hearing when heading out to the movies.  I’m already looking forward to next year’s festival in fantasyland!”


Larry Larson
Principal Trumpet, Kitchener - Waterloo Symphony

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