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Dvorak Symphony No. 7

In a case of mistaken identity, Schubert’s Overture to Rosamunde, was actually the overture to Die Zauberharfe (The Magic Harp). Regardless of its origin, it is considered one of his finest orchestral works. Metropolitan Opera Principal Trumpet Billy Hunter joins the CSO for Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto. Closing out the evening is Dvorak’s 7th Symphony, a more gloomy and somber yet dramatic piece than some of his other symphonies.

Q&A With Guest Artist Billy Hunter

During the preparations for the upcoming Masterworks concert, we wanted to get to know our guest artist, trumpeter Billy Hunter.   So we tried calling once and caught him just leaving a rehearsal.  The next time we tried calling he was in the middle of a birthday party for his 8-year-old son.  He’s a busy dad, performer, and teacher.  Foremost professionally, he is the Principal Trumpet player for the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.  He’ll be in Chattanooga on January 26th to perform Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto. So you seem pretty busy Billy!  What’s on your schedule? Well, I stay pretty busy here in New York City during the Metropolitan Opera season.  But during the summer I travel to festivals.  Specifically, this year I’ll be performing at the Prizm Chamber Music Festival in Memphis, Tennessee.  I’m also on the faculty of the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival in South Africa and the New Jersey City University. Next year, I’ll be joining the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music. I’ll also continue next year as a coach for the National Youth Orchestra of the United States – a group of talented young musicians brought together through Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute.  I’ll coach them for their 2-week New York residency before they go on tour to some of the great music capitals of the world. Did you know Kayoko Dan before booking your performance here? I knew Kayoko from the time she came into the industry as a flute player.  It’s been very exciting to see how well she has done and what all she has accomplished in her career.  I also know your Concertmaster, Holly Mulcahy.  We were both playing with the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra and when I saw her I said ‘you look so familiar.’  It turns out Holly’s brother, Craig Mulcahy, Principal Trombone with the National Symphony Orchestra, was my roommate at Julliard! Such a small world. How did you get to become a trumpet player that performs classical music? I started playing the trumpet in the 6th grade.   Once I got into High School, I made the all-state band.  My band director was awesome and helped push me toward performance.  But it was my Latin teacher who really turned me toward classical music.  He heard the announcement about me making the all-state band and started to play classical pieces in class.  I think he started with Mahler 5.  Every day he’d play a new piece of music.  I thnk that was the real turning point for me as far as focusing on classical. What other types of music do you love? I listen to anything that sounds interesting – doesn’t matter what type of music.   I grew up listening to Gospel, and I’m from Texas so I listen to country music.  I also listen to some rock and rap/hip-hop and lots of jazz.  I love jazz.  When I was in college I’d play one classical CD, then one jazz CD, then one CD of something totally different. What do you do like to do outside rehearsals and performances? I spend time with my family.  I have an older son who is into gymnastics, a younger son who has his own interests.  With my job and my wife’s schedule, we need a color coded calendar just to keep up.  I also do Bikram Yoga and practice meditation to keep healthy. How did your performance with the Chattanooga Symphony come about?  A couple of years back, Kayoko Dan and I were talking and she had the idea of my coming out to Chattanooga.  She remembered me from UT (Texas).  Then I found out Holly was the Concertmaster for the CSO and so I had that connection too. What is special to you about Hummel’s Concerto? The piece is written in a kind of classical style. It’s a little romantic.  Originally, it was written in key of E Major but was changed to E-flat Major for the more modern instruments.  I’ve listed to Winton Marcelles pay this piece – it’s very well known in the trumpet world.  It also has my favorite 2nd movements of any concerto. If you could talk to any musician, dead or alive, who would you choose? Louis Armstrong – hands down – he’s like the guy who created the jazz.  He sings and plays in the same voice.  He’s one of the most influential people within the music world. What are your favorite performance experiences? Oh, wow.  There are so many moments.  In this business you can really get down so you always look for those bright moments.  One summer I played with the Disney All-American Band.  When summer was coming to a close, and we all knew we were about to go back to our homes and possibly never perform together again it was crazy – a bunch of grown men going through the park crying.  Music creates such a strong bond between people. When I was with the New World Symphony, we played Mahler 4 conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas.  That was magical. Also at the New World Symphony we performed Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony.  From opening to the end it was such a great performance none of us could speak when it was over.  I went out for a beer with one of the other musicians and we didn’t talk for the whole 15-minute walk to the pub.  Once we go there we just said ‘that was unbelievable.’ I look for those moments – they help keep me focused on why I do what I do.