Royal Philharmonic Trumpeters at Palm Beach Atlantic University

 The trumpet section of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) presented a master class at Palm Beach Atlantic University School of Music and Fine Arts on Monday, January 15, 2018. 

RPO trumpeters and guest participants

The RPO section consisted of James Fountain, principal, Mike Allen, co-principal, and Adam Wright, sub-principal (2nd). 

The first portion of the class was a lecture demonstration by all three players focusing on their approach to ensemble playing and their role in the orchestra. The players performed numerous excerpts to demonstrate good balance and intonation. They played several excerpts in different ways to show how their approach is different.

The RPO players deviate in several ways from American players.  In particular, they perform on B-flat trumpets almost exclusively, using E-flat trumpets as emergency relief for demanding parts.  Also, the “bumper” in the section (in this instance, Mike Allen) assists both first and second players to sustain long lines.  The section demonstrated a passage from Scheherazade in which Allen played portions of both the first and second parts to allow the others to breath and get a bit of rest.

Another deviation from common American practice was demonstrated in the opening to Tschaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony.  First they played with Allen doubling first as is often done, with both players playing a moderate forte, instead of ff or fff.  Then they performed the same excerpt with the “bumper” doubling second and Fountain playing ff-fff. The stronger second part made for a more powerful effect, while not overwhelming the orchestra.

Another demonstration was of a chorale passage from Mahler’s Symphony #2.  The first time the section played the passage as if the first player had a solo, accompanied by the others.  The second time, they played as equals and brought out the important movement in each part. There was a noticeable difference in the second performance.

Throughout the presentation, the focus was on teamwork with the goal of making the most musical effect for the audience.   After answer a few questions from the audience, the RPO trumpeters listened to several students perform.  

The event culminated with a reading of James Sclater’s antiphonal Soundings for 8 trumpets.  All trumpet players who had brought their instruments were invited to join in.

(Source: Jim Estes, Adjunct Trumpet Professor, Palm Beach Atlantic University)

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