VCU Music showcases two trumpeters

Each semester, VCU Music’s concert schedule is unique, but it just so happens that this semester, two trumpeters — Rex Richardson and Dave Douglas — are the highlights and the performers of absolute must-see concerts.

VCU Arts Department of Music is a sponsor of RVAJazzfest. The concert schedule for the 2010 spring semester is full and varied, but here we focus on concerts by trumpeters Rex Richardson and Dave Douglas. For more information on VCU Music, visit

Each semester, VCU Music’s concert schedule is unique, featuring different guest artists, faculty and student recitals, student ensembles, and chamber groups through the Mary Ann Rennolds series. It just so happens that this semester, two trumpeters — Rex Richardson and Dave Douglas — are the highlights and the performers of absolute must-see concerts.

Dave Douglas will be in Richmond to rehearse and perform with VCU’s Jazz Orchestra I in mid-April. We’ll be covering that one when the time comes. (View event details)

VCU trumpet professor Rex Richardson’s recitals are some of the most exciting recitals and the ones that usually draw the biggest crowds. All year long, students and non-students alike get to hear of Richardson’s world travels, from jazz club dates in Greece to residencies in Austria, Mexico, and London. If his recitals are not technically homecomings, they sure feel like they are.

From the road, he found a couple minutes to email me about his two upcoming recitals this semester.

One of your recitals that stands out in my memory was your Michael Brecker tribute in 2007. Can you talk a little bit about your other recitals and what some of your favorites were?

I’ve done about thirteen or fourteen recitals at VCU since I started in 2002, I think. We’ve done tributes to Woody Shaw and Freddie Hubbard – probably my two biggest trumpet heroes; and to Joe Henderson and Charles Mingus – two of my biggest all-around music heroes. With Joe it was particularly special because I toured with him in the late 1990s and pulling out his music brings back very personal associations. One of my recitals was designed to feature my great trumpet colleagues at VCU – Mary Bowden and Brian Strawley of the Richmond Symphony, and jazz phenom Taylor Barnett. That was particularly fun. We were all featured and we played in various combinations of duets, trios and quartets. It’s always fun to pick a theme. In 2008 we had a great time doing Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale – it involved like nine of my colleagues, including Susanna Klein, who was brand new that year, and new conductor Daniel Myssyk. Having John Guthmiller narrate was wonderful, and everyone played great. Certainly, bringing together lots of people to play – despite the logistical headaches it can create! – is ultimately always a blast.

What are your plans for the recitals?

The first one in February will be a jazz recital, the second one in April “classical.” I don’t always like to separate them by idioms-it’s often fun, and kind of liberating, to just mix the different styles, but these each have a theme. We’ve been doing these tribute jazz recitals – just a chance to feature a prominent artist’s work and present it to the VCU community – since I came here but we skipped it last year due to scheduling problems. I wanted to get back into that this semester. The “tributee,” for lack of a better term, has not yet been decided! Part of that will depend on who’s in the lineup. As to the classical recital, I’ll be focusing on the music of a great young composer and great friend, Jim Stephenson. Jim has agreed to compose his second trumpet concerto for me, to be premiered with orchestra in Sydney, Australia this July at the International Trumpet Guild Conference. I thought it’d be a great idea to really immerse myself in his musical language, as well as to collaborate with some great VCU colleagues (pianist Dmitri Shteinburg, violinist Susanna Klein, and percussionist Peter Martin), on his work.

Where are you right now, by the way?

Haha, great question! It’s been a crazy week – earlier I had a rehearsal in Philadelphia, then back to Richmond to teach, then to D.C. to play a concert; yesterday I was in Los Angeles meeting with some folks at Yamaha, and today I’m in Fresno. It’s the UC Fresno Trumpet Festival and I’m the guest artist. It’s all kind of nuts, but at least the weather is nicer here!

Richardson has also been busy completing his CD, Magnum Opus, which is set to be released on Summit Records in May. The album is in three parts: Concerto for Trumpet and String Orchestra (A Meditation on Yeats) composed by Dana Wilson is performed by Richardson and Ensemble instrumental Appassionata, conducted by Daniel Myssyk; Richardson’s composition 016 Fantasy for Trumpet and Piano is performed by himself and pianist Dmitri Shteinberg; and finally, Doug Richards’s massive Intercontinental Concerto for Trumpet and Jazz Orchestra is performed by Richardson on slide trumpet, piccolo trumpet, flugelhorn, Eb soprano cornet, trumpet, and the Great American Music Ensemble, conducted by Richards (check out Richards’s in depth conversation about the piece on RVAJazz back in June 2009).

View event details for jazz trumpet recital or view event details for trumpet recital

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Dean Christesen

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