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Sam Lewis – Trumpet

In this blog we meet Sam, our Kidenza trumpet player, who you might remember from the ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Wars’ brass section on our Musical Recipe Book Tour.

Sam is loved by our young audiences and has recently been heard convincing young conductors he plays a ‘small’ instrument by removing the mouthpiece and playing this separately.  He was also found running across the stage to get votes in the Kidenza Bake Off!

 

Of course all children love to hear the distinctive sounds of the trumpet in our orchestra.  Perhaps he is so engaging because, as well as being a seasoned performer, Sam is also an enthusiastic teacher, keen to help his students to enjoy music whilst developing their skills through his own experiences.

I asked Sam what he would encourage children to listen to if they enjoy the sound of the trumpet

In terms of trumpeters, I’m almost always in the mood to listen to Wynton Marsalis and his Jazz at the Lincoln Centre Orchestra, Louis Armstrong, Maurice André, Ole Edvard Antonsen, Clark Terry or James Morrison!  For their technical brilliance and sheer entertainment value Mnozil Brass are one of the best brass groups around too

Check out this clip of Mnozil Brass 

  • Studies

Sam studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with a number of generous scholarships, including one from the Wolfson Foundation to buy him his trumpet.  He was awarded MMus with Distinction in November 2012, following his BMus with First-Class Honours the year before.  He now enjoys a varied performing career throughout the UK and Europe.

  • Professional work

Alongside his work with Kidenza, Sam has been featured on live BBC Radio broadcasts and Italy’s Canale 5, played for (and met) HRH The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, been recorded on a CD which reached number 8 in the classical charts and has even played a few European rock festivals!

I asked Sam more about the time he met Royalty

I met HRH The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at Lancaster House, playing as part of the Commonwealth Cantata.  The Commonwealth Cantata is a chamber ensemble, formed from the Commonwealth Orchestra, who form a part of the shared commonwealth music mission “Using music as a means of international dialogue, knowing no boundaries.”

As an orchestral trumpeter Sam has had the pleasure to perform under the batons of Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Vladimir Ashkenazy and the late Sir Colin Davis, a personal highlight being Bruckner’s Symphony No.7 on principal trumpet for Sir Colin.  Sam’s versatility has also seen him twice invited to play as soloist in the Festival de la Musique Sacrée in St Malo, Brittany as well as more regular engagements around London.  His interest in historically-informed performances has led to performances on natural trumpet alongside internationally acclaimed trumpeter Crispian Steele-Perkins.  Sam also performs regularly in musical theatre productions and was involved in the 2017 Thursford Christmas Spectacular performing pop, rock, jazz and classical music to sell-out crowds.

  • Sam the Author

One thing you may not know about Sam is that he is also co-author of Trumpet Sight-Reading – A Fresh Approach, a book written with composer John Kember and Schott Music Publications to help students develop their ability to quickly and accurately read new pieces of music.  How amazing is that!

  • Behind the scenes

You may not know that Sam and Lucia (Kidenza Leader) met whilst playing in the Kent County Youth orchestra over 12 years ago!

I asked Sam how he felt about performing with Kidenza and being part of our very special team.

Performing with Kidenza is a joy: personally I’m passionate about sharing music with young people; being able to do that as part of a high-quality ensemble of musicians with such a dedicated team behind us means we get to share our enjoyment with large numbers of enthusiastic children, which can only be a good thing!

When you talk to our musicians about Kidenza and what the ensemble is like you can tell that they enjoy working together.  Sam told me what he had enjoyed from the recent School’s Tour:

With such a small group of players and many of us travelling together from London we obviously spend a lot of time in each others’ company!  The energy we get from each other really makes a difference to the show, especially doing three full performances each day, so it’s great when you know you can rely on someone for a few jokes or a good “morning person” to help start the first show with real enthusiasm.  Finishing with some excellent “Shakey Shakey” fish and chips in Ramsgate after the final show was a great way to recover from the hard work on one of the hottest days of this year’s tour!  There are plenty of other fond memories of this tour but the funniest have to be hearing Abdelazer on clarinet mouthpiece for the first time, which sparked real competition for the smallest “instruments” we could each find, and Joe’s parody of the brass section’s Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Wars using his kazoo in one of our Eastbourne shows!

Want to learn the Trumpet?

So you have seen Sam play and you are thinking of learning the trumpet?  Sam started the trumpet in year 4 (age 8) thanks to a scheme his primary school ran alongside Kent Music School. Why did he choose the trumpet?

My older brother and sister had already chosen French Horn and Euphonium, so it seemed to make sense for me to go with the trumpet!

I asked Sam what type of music he was inspired by and he told me that his mum had a few Louis Armstrong and Glenn Miller albums, which captured his imagination with jazz and big-band trumpet.  Hearing some of the greatest classical trumpeters such as Maurice André playing really had him hooked.  Sam still enjoys the versatility of the trumpet, now being able to work as a player from classical to pop and everything in between.

  • What would Sam choose as his favourite trumpet repertoire?

Légende by Georges Enesco – one of my favourite trumpet solos, it’s a brilliantly written piece which shows the full range of the trumpeter’s musical and technical capabilities coupled with a beautiful piano accompaniment that really helps to draw out the emotion of each section.

Concerto for Trumpet by bandleader Harry James – this is such an entertaining party-piece with a jazzy twist!  It’s got all of the technical wizardry you could want, with plenty of opportunity to show off like Harry James himself, so it’s no surprise this has been recorded and performed by dozens of great trumpeters down the years!

The music of J.S. Bach, originally written for what we now call “natural trumpets” (i.e. no valves, similar to those used by the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry at the Royal Weddings), is always a joy to play; especially the Christmas Oratorio and B Minor Mass.  Some of it is fiendishly difficult, played among the highest notes trumpeters can play, but the sense of style and harmony he created is truly uplifting.

Gustav Mahler also wrote some fantastic music for the trumpet in his symphonies which demonstrates a subtlety that isn’t always applied to brass, even if it is often extraordinarily loud as well!  It’s perhaps not the easiest route into symphonic orchestral music for a first-time listener, but the emotions that you feel as Mahler takes you from desperation to pure joy through his writing are hard to match elsewhere for trumpeters.

I asked our musicians for a fact we might not know about them.  Sam’s was perhaps my favourite so far!

I may be the only person in the UK to have accidentally potted a pool ball into a glass of water, over a metre away from the pocket I was aiming at!

Pure class!

So what’s Sam up to next? Well in addition to his Kidenza commitments this Christmas (15th December in Sevenoaks) Sam will also be appearing in the following:

24th September – Orpheus Sinfonia at St George’s Chapel, Windsor

7th October – English Symphony Orchestra at Hereford Shire Hall

23rd & 24th October – The King and I at Wyllyotts Theatre, Potters Bar (Lucia also playing for the rest of the week until 27th Oct)

11th November – Last Post & Reveille at St Nicholas’ Church, Otford (KENT)

17th November – The Armed Man at St Dunstan’s Church, Cranbrook (KENT)

14th December – King’s Carol Service at Rochester Cathedral (KENT)

He will also be playing as a dep for the Thursford Christmas Spectacular 2018 (15th, 16th and 24th November and 18th December)

It has been a real pleasure to talk to Sam and find out more about him.  I hope this blog gives you a good introduction to our wonderful trumpet player.  If you want to find out more do check out his  website

Jennie

Jennie Yelverton is Project & Marketing Director for Kidenza and has two children aged 10 and 7 who she hopes to inspire with classical music!


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Kidenza is supported by

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  • Art Council
  • Sigred Rausing Trust
  • Puddle Ducks West Kent & East Sussex
  • Ann Bryant
  • Thomson Snell & Passmore
  • BBC Ten Pieces

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