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Published on:

9th Feb 2020

Trumpet Chris, Daddy Chris: Life at Juilliard, How to Move Your Audience and Inside the Decision to Step Away From A Dream Gig

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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About the Podcast

Trumpet Dynamics
The Story of the Trumpet, In the Words of Those Who Play It
The Story of the Trumpet, In the Words of Those Who Play It....

And what a story it is...

"Honestly, I had no idea what would come of the show when I began it in 2016," says founder and host James Newcomb. "I knew that podcasting was something I enjoyed, and I enjoy trumpet, so it seemed like a good idea."

Well that so called "good idea" is still going strong here in 2022 and beyond. It has become a show with a global audience, featuring trumpeters of all stripes and experience levels from all corners of this Planet Earth. People just like you and me who have real lives, and real problems, and maintain their love of trumpet in spite of everything - and want to impart their experience and knowledge of trumpet, career building, longevity, health and wellness, spirituality and much more with listeners of this show.

So grab a hot beverage, your favorite chair and press play on an episode (true listeners listen at 1x speed ha ha).

Here are some people you may have heard of sharing their experience as a guest of the show:

"James, thank you for the wonderful experience of getting the chance to talk on your show. You create a warm friendly atmosphere, and ask interesting questions that lead us to interesting places! I thoroughly enjoyed our interaction and really respect your skill and depth as a host/interviewer."
--Chris Gekker, Professor of Trumpet University of Maryland

"Dear James, Thanks for featuring me on one of your podcasts.  I enjoyed our interaction and appreciated being asked questions about my early music roots when I was growing up in Kimball, Nebraska.  All of your questions were well thought out, and I could tell that you wanted to know more about me and who influenced me, rather than the usual career highlights type of questions typically asked."
--David Hickman, Professor Emeritus Arizone State University

"Dear James, Thanks for inviting me to be interviewed on your podcast. I truly enjoyed our conversation. You helped me feel quite at ease and kept things moving with thoughtful questions and pertinent observations."
--Stanley Friedman, Prolific composer, former orchestral trumpeter

"Dear James, I am very happy that I could talk with you about trumpet and other important things in my life. Your knowledge and friendly atmosphere gives me a good feeling. I hope that this interview will be helpful to the trumpet players."
--Slawomir Cichor, Polish trumpet soloist and composer

"James is great. He's personable, relatable and keen to the insights we'd all like to glean from fellow players. Thanks for your awesome contribution to the online trumpet community and I look forward to many great episodes in the future!"
--James Blackwell, Lead trumpeter and freelance artist

"James was such a pleasure to talk with during our interview. He asked all the right questions, made me laugh and feel at ease while also creating engaging discussion. His genuine interest in my new works for guitar quartet and trumpet highlighted all the most important aspects of the project. Thank you James for creating this opportunity to contribute and be part of the trumpet community."
--Sarah Herbert, Professor of trumpet Western Kentucky University

Again, thank you for checking out our show. We hope you enjoy it, and hope to meet you either online or in person!

About your host

Profile picture for James Newcomb

James Newcomb

"James, thank you for the wonderful experience of getting the chance to talk on your show. You create a warm friendly atmosphere, and ask interesting questions that lead us to interesting places! I thoroughly enjoyed our interaction and really respect your skill and depth as a host/interviewer."

--Chris Gekker, Professor of Trumpet University of Maryland

"Dear James, Thanks for featuring me on one of your podcasts.  I enjoyed our interaction and appreciated being asked questions about my early music roots when I was growing up in Kimball, Nebraska.  All of your questions were well thought out, and I could tell that you wanted to know more about me and who influenced me, rather than the usual career highlights type of questions typically asked."

--David Hickman, Professor Emeritus Arizone State University

"Dear James, Thanks for inviting me to be interviewed on your podcast. I truly enjoyed our conversation. You helped me feel quite at ease and kept things moving with thoughtful questions and pertinent observations."

--Stanley Friedman, Prolific composer, former orchestral trumpeter

"Dear James, I am very happy that I could talk with you about trumpet and other important things in my life. Your knowledge and friendly atmosphere gives me a good feeling. I hope that this interview will be helpful to the trumpet players."

--Slawomir Cichor, Polish trumpet soloist and composer

"James is great. He's personable, relatable and keen to the insights we'd all like to glean from fellow players. Thanks for your awesome contribution to the online trumpet community and I look forward to many great episodes in the future!"

--James Blackwell, Lead trumpeter and freelance artist

"James was such a pleasure to talk with during our interview. He asked all the right questions, made me laugh and feel at ease while also creating engaging discussion. His genuine interest in my new works for guitar quartet and trumpet highlighted all the most important aspects of the project. Thank you James for creating this opportunity to contribute and be part of the trumpet community."

--Sarah Herbert, Professor of trumpet Western Kentucky University