Benjamin Wright enjoys a varied career, performing as a member of the Boston Symphony, as a soloist and chamber musician, and teaching. Wright joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra trumpet section in July 2002 as fourth trumpet. From 2006 to 2009, he was acting assistant principal trumpet of the BSO, and in 2010 became second trumpet of the BSO, where he occupies the Arthur and Linda Gelb Chair.
Wright began playing the violin at age three, and the trumpet when he was ten. He hails from a long line of musicians going back to his great-grandfather, a bandleader and cornetist in Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show. Wright studied at the Interlochen Arts Academy and received his bachelor’s in music at the Cleveland Institute of Music. In 1996 Wright won the International Trumpet Guild and National Trumpet competitions, as well as the Cleveland Institute of Music Concerto Competition, and was awarded the Bernard Adelstein Prize for trumpet performance upon graduating in 1997.
Following his first professional job as a member of the Washington Opera Orchestra, Wright spent two years as fourth trumpet in the Chicago Symphony. He has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. His appearances as guest principal trumpet with the San Francisco Symphony included performances of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony. He has performed as soloist with the Las Cruces Symphony and the Boston Pops and has given solo recitals all over the US and Japan. In the spring of 2016 Wright will perform as soloist with the Boston Pops in the world premier performances of Michael Martin’s “Wizard” Concerto for trumpet and orchestra.
Wright has given masterclasses at Juilliard, the Manhattan School of Music, Mannes, Yale, Boston University, University of Arizona, Universtiy of Maryland, and The Interlochen Center for the Arts. He has been a guest faculty member for the Bar Harbor Brass and the National Orchestral Institute. Wright has taught at the New England Conservatory and the Tanglewood Music Center since 2003. He is a Yamaha performing artist.
As a member of the BSO and Boston Pops I’ve performed in recordings with artists like Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (in the BSO’s grammy winning recording of Peter Lieberson’s Neruda Songs), Chris Botti, Sting, Steven Tyler, Katherine Machpee, and Clint Eastwood (for his soundtrack to Mystic River). I have gotten to play the National Anthem for Red Sox world series games and in the Celtics’ NBA championship run in 2008.
By far, the best thing about my time in the BSO has been my friendship and musical collaboration with my colleagues here. There has been a huge turnover in the BSO brass section (in the trumpet, trombone, and tuba sections the only remaining player from when I started in 2002 is my friend, principal trumpet player, Tom Rolfs) and what is most notable is that as we have added people who all come from different backgrounds, we seem to only have become closer and more compatible as musicians and friends. It is rare to hear an orchestra with no weaknesses, but week after week I am astounded by the high level of playing in every section of the BSO. This was the kind of job I dreamed I would have when I was in school and I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of this amazing group.
Though the main focus of Wright’s livelihood is performing with the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops, he is equally comfortable in front of the orchestra as a soloist and playing chamber music. He has performed as a guest member of the Cambridge based Radius Ensemble and in many ensembles featuring members of the BSO, notably last summer’s performance of L’Histoire du Soldat in Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood. 2015/16 performances include brass quintet concerts at Symphony Hall, the Boston Children’s Museum, and a world premier concerto with The Boston Pops.
Possible repertoire choices could include:
Wright’s former students play professionally across the United States, Europe, and Asia. They include current members of the Atlanta Symphony, Utah Symphony, and Sarasota Orchestra. His students have won the National Trumpet Competition 4 times including 2015 and 2016, as well as the MTNA Young Artist Competition, and the New England Conservatory Concerto Competition.
Teaching someone to play a musical instrument relies heavily on what the teacher learned from his or her teachers. In fact, most of what music teachers teach hasn’t been original material for hundreds of years. The only thing I view as original in my teaching is the way this information is combined, and when and how it is presented. I owe a huge debt to my teachers for all the information they gave me. It is from this background that I pull a lot of my ideas about teaching. When I left school, Mark Gould encouraged me to go through the process of taking all the information I learned from my teachers and lay it out like a set of tools. Use the tools that work well now and check back often to see if any of them come to be more useful later. I try to take the tools that helped me most and use them interactively with my students. I continue to learn which tools work for which students. My wife Miriam, an excellent cellist and teacher, taught me that each student has a different learning style. I try to teach this way.
Though my first trumpet teacher was Jim Bursen, it was my father, David Wright, an excellent clarinetist and college music teacher, who was truly my first teacher. I grew up hearing him practice at home and occasionally going to concerts. His brother (and my uncle), Stephen Wright is a great trumpet player in the Minneapolis area and was the inspiration for my quitting the violin and making the switch to trumpet. When I started to play the trumpet my father would come in my room as I practiced and make me go back and fix errors I was making. He was particularly picky with rhythm and intonation. He also made sure that I studied with the best teacher possible in my home town. Jim Bursen, who taught and played with my father at the University of Evansville (IN) and The Evansville Philharmonic was extremely patient and kind with me when I started trumpet at 10. He had a gorgeous sound and it really stuck in my ear. When he retired, Stan Curtis, now a member of the Navy Band in DC, was my teacher. Stan introduced me to a higher lever of technique, playing recitals, and most important, the world of orchestral recordings. I remember being in his office and hearing Mahler’s fifth symphony for the first time (Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic). Stan really stoked the fire that led me to want to play in an orchestra. I spent a year with John Lindenau at Interlochen -a kind and generous man, and a great teacher. It was an idyllic year, spent playing in as many recitals and concerts as humanly possible. Michael Sachs showed me the highest standard of the orchestral trumpet player through his playing in the Cleveland Orchestra, playing in my lessons and his shrewd analyses of mine. He discouraged me from taking professional auditions before I was really ready. It was annoying at the time, but in hind sight, I am extremely glad I didn’t start auditions any earlier than I did. Chris Gekker showed me that trumpet players should be artists who can sound like any instrument in the orchestra, and that being well-read in all areas of history and literature leads to a better life AND better trumpet playing. His calm demeanor combined with his ability to do anything in any style on the trumpet was a new kind role model for me. It was primarily from Chris, who was constantly referencing information he gleaned from his teachers, that I learned how important that legacy really was. Roger Voisin was an incredible teacher the two summers I spent at Tanglewood as a student. The first day that first summer, I had 8 hours of rehearsals capped with a Britten 4 Sea Interludes brass sectional coached by Roger. I was playing the 3rd trumpet part on piccolo trumpet and he kept yelling at me “C natural!! C natural!” I was sitting there thinking, “Gee, I thought that was what I did”. My friend, Kevin Finamore, leaned in close and said, “SI-natural as in B natural. Solfege, BABY!” In graduate school, Mark Gould taught me how to teach myself what I hadn’t already learned – a process that will continue until I stop playing trumpet. Everyone knows Mark for his Way of the Blade videos and Pink Baby Monster and I know that side of him too. He is, at times, just plain old crazy. That being said, Mark is the best teacher I have ever seen reading the personality and needs of his students. When I started studying with him, he knew what I needed and how to help me get there WELL before I did. Mark taught me the value of singing to fix virtually any issue, and that most things were simpler than I was making them out to be. I also spent time with others who helped me including Dave Bilger, Charlie Geyer, and Bill Lucas. The biggest and most comprehensive education occurred when I started working. Roger Voisin told me that I wouldn’t REALLY learn to play softly until I had a music director demanding for it. He was right about that! But more than that, you just learn so much listening to your colleagues in orchestras like the CSO and the BSO. I am extremely lucky to listen and play alongside some of the best musicians in the world when I go to work. It would be impossible to quantify what I have learned working with my colleagues at the Washington Opera, Chicago Symphony, and Boston Symphony. In particular, sitting with my friend, Tom Rolfs, since 2002 has improved every aspect of my playing and musicianship. More recent members of the trumpet section, Tom Siders and Mike Martin bring to the section different backgrounds, a wealth of information, and a LOT of laughter!
I have some availability for lessons via SKYPE, especially in the summer months. I use an external microphone (Apogee Mic) and external speakers which highly improve the audio quality. In person lessons are always better, but for students in other countries or who are unable to come to Boston, these lessons can be very effective. Lessons may be scheduled by emailing me from the form below. Be sure to give me a date range of a few days, so that I may send you a few times that might work with my schedule. Once a lesson time has been agreed upon, to reserve that time, you will need to prepay via my Paypal account.
**There is no official affiliation between benwrighttrumpet.com and SKYPE.
This year, I returned to running the bi-weekly trumpet masterclasses at New England Conservatory. In 2014, I will be giving masterclasses at Juilliard, Yale, and Mannes, in addition to my regular work at the Tanglewood Music Center. Below are some of the papers I have written for my NEC classes.
To set up a masterclass at your school or organization please contact me here.
I have been on the faculty at NEC since 2003. NEC has become a great place for trumpet players. It is the only conservatory in America where every member of the trumpet section of the resident orchestra teach on the faculty of the same school. Symphony Hall is one block from NEC and our students regularly attend rehearsals and concerts – it is an integral part of their training. It isn’t just that though. We are all friends and regularly go over our students’ progress. Lesson swaps amongst the studios are common – we want the students to get what they need when they need it. In addition to the BSO section of myself, Tom Rolfs, Tom Siders, and Michael Martin, trumpeter Steve Emery is an excellent player and teacher. We work well together, coming from different backgrounds but with similar musical goals
The above clips were recorded without any internal editing in Ozawa Concert Hall in Lenox, MA using an Edirol R-09 with a Sony stereo microphone.
John Williams – Boston Pops Director Laureate and Academy Award winning composer
Robert Moody – Music Director, Portland Symphony and Arizona Music Fest
Jonathon Blumhofer – Artsfuse.org
James Sommerville – music director Hamilton Symphony and principal horn, Boston Symphony
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