September 10, 2009
Picture Courtesy of Brian Brown
By Justin Bartels
Denver Classical Music Examiner
Classical musicians come in all shapes and sizes. Next time you are at an orchestra concert look around at the different players. The players all seem to have different personalities, many reflective of the type of instrument in their hands. Having been to many a concert, I recall seeing big burly trombonists, petite flute players, and some very confident trumpet players. Each player has his or her own “performance personality” as well. Once a conductor told a group of students that moving while performing shows that you are “into it”. A trumpet instructor of mine once said, “Moving is for winds, after all you’re a trumpet player man”. It goes to show that two very contrasting types of people can work together very harmoniously. Orchestral musicians seem led to choose their instruments often by the personalities they have. The instrument they play tends to mold their personality and vice versa. Ask a violinist how long they have been playing and you’d think they were born with a fiddle in their hands. It takes long hours in the practice room and extreme dedication to succeed as a violinist. In fact some would say it is a detriment to start playing a string instrument any later than the age of seven. Double reed players have to make reeds before they can even play. What do they do with all that time for personal reflection? There is a stereotype that trombone players are slow, most of them in my opinion are pretty smart, but maybe it is the slide that gives them the bad name. The trumpets for example always seem to be noticed, whether it’s a huge clam (I would like to note that never happens) or a piercing high note at the end of a pops show.
One local musician in particular has a very unique story. His career fits his music personality like a glove. A confident person that is focused and a born leader, trumpeter Brian Brown one day decided to make a drastic career change. Brian is a Fort Collins police officer but he used to be a full time player with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Interesting to note that Brian is also a former Marine (of course once a Marine, always a Marine). He went to school to be a trumpet player; he earned his master’s degree in Music, specializing in Trumpet from Rice University in Houston, Texas. Brian also played two seasons with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. One day he decided to make a career change, so Brian joined the Dallas police force. He did not even know if he would ever want to play trumpet again. After a few years on the force in Dallas, Brian decided to move to Fort Collins, Colorado. Soon after his whole family followed, because Colorado is just that nice. Not too long after Brian moved to Colorado, Christopher Still the former principal trumpet of the Colorado Symphony, called him and told him about the CSO’s substitute audition. After a successful audition, he was placed on the substitute/extra list; after all he had played a great audition with a great resume and qualifications.
Today, Brian plays a lot of extra trumpet with the Colorado Symphony. The CSO employs three full time players, a lot of symphonic works call for more, which is where extra musicians like Brian come into play.
Brian has also played with the Fort Collins Symphony. Last Fourth of July, Brian was assigned detail at a park in Fort Collins, except before his shift began he was contracted to play a patriotic concert with the Fort Collins Symphony. The orchestra graciously allowed him to play the concert dressed in his police uniform.
Being a trumpet player can be pretty stressful, however putting your life on the line as a police officer, there is no comparison there. Brian has had a bone removed from his foot. He also has had a nasty run in with a pit bull. He tells an infamous story of wrestling with an individual resisting arrest and somehow both of them crashing into a loaded beehive. These stories have certain flair to them, being around Brian long enough you realize that no matter how much he enjoys being a police officer he gets just as much excitement from playing in the orchestra. I guess once a trumpet player, always a trumpet player.
It goes to show you how important every player in a symphony orchestra can be. Every person has a role to make the machine work as efficiently as possible. Brian is just many of the musicians that help supplement the 80 member Colorado Symphony to make a better machine. Each person that steps on the Boettcher stage has such an important role. Brian Brown gives back much to his community. He serves it every night as a police officer in Fort Collins and here in Denver as an extra player with the Colorado Symphony. One thing to note however, be careful how fast you turn into the parking garage, the speed limit is only 15, or is it 5. I guess I might get a ticket next time.
Brian will be joining the Colorado Symphony Orchestra this weekend the for a very exciting opening week performance. Four pieces are slated to be performed on Friday September 11thand Saturday September 12thwith both shows starting at 7:30 PM. Brian will be a part of it all with three unique roles. First, he will be playing the fourth trumpet part on Adams: Short Ride in a fast machine. Later in the performance two Respighi works are being performed, Brazilian Impressions, where he will be playing third trumpet and then the famous Pines of Rome where he will be playing the first buccine trumpet part. The Buccine parts are usually played from the balcony inside the hall for an absolutely mesmerizing antiphonal effect. It should provide an outstanding finale to the performance. I would be remiss in mentioning that Pianist Ingrid Fliter will be performing Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A. The Concert will be led by music director Jeffrey Kahane, it should be an outstanding season opener for the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.