Saturday, November 22, 2008

Trumpet Works in Toronto

Andrew McCandless, principal trumpet of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, is the Professor of Trumpet at the Royal Conservatory's Glenn Gould School of Music in downtown Toronto. Not unlike Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music, the G.G.S. accepts only the best talent, and takes very good care of its four trumpet majors. Proof: recent grad Adam Zinatelli is just about to land the Principal Trumpet position in the Calgary Philharmonic. School's mission accomplished!

The school is part-way through a massive building project which will include a new concert hall. There is already an impressive fusion of the old school masonry with sharp new century design. Just next door, however, an alien high rise appears to have crashed and adhered itself right onto the front of the nineteenth century fortress! The Conservatory's new music building should easily offer a more subtle, yet bold presence, reflecting traditions while implanting the new.

Professor McCandless has a lot to work with, and his students have a lot to draw upon. He brings to his studio his on-the-job experience with the orchestras of Savannah, Kansas City, Buffalo, Dallas, San Francisco, and now Toronto. His training credentials include Boston University and the Eastman School. Andrew is an excellent soloist who also has an unashamed love for teaching. The word is that he is also a sought-after speaker!

Yesterday was one of the days the school generously offers an outsider to participate. It was a day full of solos and excerpts. I was privileged to throw my deux cents into the mix. We heard nice displays of Arutunian, Hummel, Hindemith, and Honegger, (no Haydn. Without the H's, we'd lose half of our solo repertoire!) Solo class was then followed by a good look at a dozen of those pesky standard excerpts that never seem to go away. Some efficient nailing happened.

I was reminded that successful training is never painless. If it is, it isn't happening, or else we have a genius on our hands. In addition to all the normal requirements, Andrew's lesson agenda includes regular doses of transposition and sight-reading! Duets are also part of each lesson as they stimulate vital ensemble instincts. How easily these three are neglected!

For music school hunters and/or trumpet recording geeks, Toronto offers a fantastic experience. As many orchestra budgets have brought recording projects to a standstill, the Toronto Symphony is already thriving with a bunch of CD's that, along with the music school, serious trumpet students ought to check out.

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