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Trumpet Chris, Daddy Chris: Life at Juilliard, How to Move Your Audience and Inside the Decision to Step Away From A Dream Gig
9th February 2020 • Trumpet Dynamics • James Newcomb
00:00:00 00:48:13

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Imagine This…

You’re playing for the minor league affiliate of the New York Yankees. You’re a professional ball player, but you’re young, wet behind the ears – and inexperienced enough to believe you can do anything. 

Then one day, you get a phone call. You’ve been called up to the major league club and you’re the starting pitcher in the playoffs…and you’re pitching tomorrow.

Chris Coletti can relate to this. In 2009, he was a young trumpet stud at the Juilliard School. He had just won an audition with a small town orchestra and was brimming with confidence in his budding career as a professional musician.

Then he got The Call. The Canadian Brass, one of the most esteemed and recognizable ensembles in the world of classical music, needed a trumpet player. And they wanted him.

Of course he answered the call. And there he was. Thrust into the spotlight. Headlining performances at tiny, little known venues such as Carnegie Hall. The Kennedy Center. Lincoln Center, to name just a few.

Some of the best and most accomplished trumpeters of our time preceded Chris. What big shoes to fill. Suddenly he had the pressure of performing at a very high level on the biggest stage possible in his world.

Perhaps you’re thinking to yourself, “I don’t know if I could do that at that age. I think the pressure would be great for me.”

I suppose one could be forgiven for thinking such things. On the other hand, you probably don’t weed out potential life partners by singing operatic soprano arias and whistling violin partitas written by Johann Sebastian Bach. These are just a couple of Chris’ many talents outside of playing the trumpet…and is one of the reasons he’ll never pay for another drink in his life.

So 24 year old Chris Coletti answered the call. And boy did he deliver. In addition to adding operatic soprano singing to the Canadian Brass’ bag of crowd pleasing tricks during his 10 year tenure, he composed and arranged pieces, and delivered one dynamic performance after another.

Now ten years older – and wiser – Chris has decided it’s time to step away from the Canadian Brass. Why? Because in 10 years, his situation, his perspective, his priorities, have changed. He’s now a husband and a father. The glories of his role with the Canadian Brass were increasingly a stark contrast with the realities of parenting. It was simply time to step aside and make room for another person who is better equipped to carry the group into the future.

What you’re about to hear is the story of an individual who has given his heart and his soul to his craft. Chris can tell you what will emotionally move an audience of musical “civilians” and what will move an audience of musical aficionados who are nit-picking your every move. And you might be surprised to hear that it’s really the same thing when you get right down to it.

And now that he has moved into a new chapter of his life, you’ll hear about the decision to step away from a role that was glorious and deeply fulfilling on many levels, and into another role that is dirty, exhausting, inglorious at times – and right where his soul has him to be at this moment.

Here’s a sample from Chris’ blog:

“Music is an art, a social art, one that is extremely rewarding from the first moment we experience it. As an educator, I find the most fascinating thing to be uncovering what makes each student tick–what drives them, what musical and career goals will make them feel fulfilled. Motivation comes in a variety of ways, and we teachers have in a uniquely influential job: to identify a student’s strengths and passions and turn them into a powerful and positive driving force in their life…”

A few of the more salient points from my chat with Chris Coletti:

-Chris’ career aspirations as a young conservatory student...9:54

-What is life like as a student at Juilliard?...12:38

-To specialize, or not to specialize…17:40

-The foolproof method of winning a job in an orchestra...21:47

-Baptism by fire: Chris’ first days in the Canadian Brass...30:10

-How having a family shifted priorities as a musician and performer...34:10

-And much more...

Links and resources mentioned in the interview:

The Canadian Brass

The Queen of the Night from Mozart’s opera, The Magic Flute

Bach’s 3rd Violin Partita

Brandon Ridenour

Mentioned in this episode:

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