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Trumpet takes center stage in WSO performance |

Trumpet takes center stage in WSO performance

Jiyang Chen
Brandon Ridenour

Brandon Ridenour is fitting together the various pieces of life as a solo trumpet player.

He seems to enjoy most of the work with his exploratory band, The Founders, but spends more time soloing with orchestras or doing duo concerts.

“When you are on the road doing solos, you are alone all the time,” he says. “But that gives me time to work on arranging and composing.”

He will be alone again in Greensburg when he performs Oct. 1 with the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra at the Palace Theatre.

Ridenour, 30, who also performed with the orchestra in 2009, is a busy man. Besides his solo and duo work, which he did once at St. Vincent College near Latrobe, he does outreach and workshops at nearly every appearance, he says.

He also works with The Founders, a quintet that does new works as well as fresh arrangements of well-known pieces.

“We really enjoy writing for each other,” he says with a laugh, “and we really like it when we force someone to listen to us.”

He is involved with a project called Useful, which presents various kinds of music in an ever-changing lineup of players. Ridenour also plays with a chamber ensemble called Decoda.

His instrumental skills and energy are the reasons this part of the orchestra’s season was put together, says music director Daniel Meyer.

“I wanted to do a program that would show off the brass of the orchestra, and it is great to have a fantastic player like Brandon as a soloist,” he says.

The concert will feature the trumpeter playing the concerto of Alexsandr Arutiunian, one of the classics in trumpet repertoire. But it also will include Gioachino Rossini’s “William Tell Overture,” with the brass call that opens its well-known finale, and Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8.

“It has a fanfare that appears to open the last movement and then sort of disappears — and turns into a little cello line — until he brings it back later,” Meyer says, explaining the symphony’s role in the concert.

Ridenour says working in a band or a chamber-type group is more what people expect from a trumpeter. “It is a little unusual to be a trumpet soloist,” he says. “Many people just don’t put those two words together.”

The Michigan native is a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music and a resident of New York City.

He has in his career played in one of the best known brass ensembles in music. For seven years, he played in the Canadian Brass before leaving in 2013 to follow his own path.

He has played at the Weill Recital Hall at New York’s Carnegie Hall, performed the Brandenburg Concertos at the Lincoln Center and at the Jewel Box Series in Chicago.

He also has performed with orchestras in Los Angeles, Edmonton, Jacksonville and Indianapolis as well as the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the Deutscher Kammerphilharmonie in Germany.

While life as a performer is good, he is always interested in arranging and composing. He currently is looking at doing more works similar to those by arranger Gil Evans and trumpeter Miles Davis, such as “Sketches of Spain.”

“The work they did together was so good, but they just didn’t do enough,” he says.

Bob Karlovits is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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