North Texas Daily

Trumpet icon prepares to play at UNT

Trumpet icon prepares to play at UNT

courtesy wikimedia

Trumpet icon prepares to play at UNT
February 18
03:49 2016

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer


Former New York Philharmonic principal trumpeter Phil Smith is widely regarded as one of the best trumpet players in the world. A member of Philharmonic for three decades, his name is synonymous with trumpet excellence.

Smith will be onstage at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 22 at the Winspear Performance Hall with UNT’s top brass ensemble for a one-night concert.


Phil Smith

“I wanted to work with the kids out there,” Smith said of his decision to come to UNT. “I decided to share a little trumpet excitement.”

For more than 25 years, Smith sat front-and-center on the stage at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The sound of his brass trumpet echoed off the brick walls, and the seats of the auditorium filled to the brim with eager concert-goers.

The position of principal trumpet chair in the New York Philharmonic is a prestigious one, with only six men on record, excluding Smith, who have held the title since the Philharmonic Society of New York and the New York Symphony merged to become the Philharmonic in 1928.

Despite being a world-renowned musician for one of the top orchestras in the world, Smith decided to retire from professional trumpet playing in 2014. Even though he doesn’t perform as often, he said he has a passion for music education.

After putting his trumpet in its case, Smith began teaching at the University of Georgia in August 2014, currently serving as bandmaster of the UGA British Brass Band.

That same passion for teaching is what led him to Denton.

“Based on my career as first trumpet in the Philharmonic, there’s a lot of information and experiential knowledge I gathered from that,” Smith said. “I’m a big brass band buff. I think brass band is a great medium and is great training for young brass players.”

Smith is coming to UNT due in large part to an invitation from Jason Bergman, who currently serves as the assistant professor of trumpet at UNT and is a personal friend of Smith. During his time as a student, Bergman had several master classes with Smith—an experience he now wants his own students to have.

“Phil Smith is kind of a trumpet icon,” Bergman said. “He’s kind of a trumpet hero for everybody. When I was in college, I did some workshops with [Smith], and he was a really important figure in my own personal growth.”

Nicholas Williams, who conducts the brass ensemble Smith will be performing with, also used to play trumpet before he began conducting.

“I’ve grown up knowing who [Smith] was,” Williams said. “I listened to recordings of the New York Philharmonic. It’s pretty incredible to work with him … hopefully it’s not a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but it probably will be.”

But working with the famous musician isn’t only a memorable moment for Williams. Performing with Smith will be beneficial for students as well. While he is on campus, Smith will conduct various rehearsals and classes with music student—and for a lucky few, one-on-one practice sessions.

“When we have a person of his caliber [coming to campus], it’s extremely special,” Williams said. “You can parallel it with any discipline. When you bring in a person at the very top of their discipline, it’s a great thing for the students that are here, the faculty and the university itself.”

Williams’ students echoed his excitement.

Music education junior Patrick Byars is one of the members of the brass ensemble who will be performing with Smith in a few days and is more than ready for the occasion. Byars, a Texas Music Educators Association All-State trumpet player in high school, is yet another person who has idolized Smith and considers him a premier trumpeter.

“If you think about Morgan Freeman and how good he is at playing God, that is Phil Smith at playing trumpet,” Byars said. “It’s perfect. I’m really excited. He is probably one of the biggest influences for most trumpet players. You throw down his name, and everybody should know who he is.”

Smith will be performing a duet with Bergman called “Quicksilver,” as well as “Trumpet Voluntary” by Purcell and a flugelhorn solo titled “His Eyes on the Sparrow.” Admission will be free for UNT students.

For Smith, even though he does not perform as regularly as he used to, one thing remains constant. =“Part of what I loved to do when I was active in Philharmonic was to get out and stand on the front of the stage,” Smith said. “Things have changed a bit. I don’t do as much playing anymore. But I love sharing my interests, and that hasn’t changed. It’s more about the students than it is about me coming up.”

Featured Image: The New York Philharmonic Courtesy | Wikimedia

About Author



Related Articles


No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Write a Comment

The Roundup

<script id="mcjs">!function(c,h,i,m,p){m=c.createElement(h),p=c.getElementsByTagName(h)[0],m.async=1,m.src=i,p.parentNode.insertBefore(m,p)}(document,"script","");</script>

Search Bar

Sidebar Thumbnails Ad

Sidebar Bottom Block Ad

Flytedesk Ad