Yet another year, the Sanganxa Foundation, which belongs to the largest music store specializing in wind instruments in Spain, has organized the Xàtiva Trumpet Days, a great trumpet event that will feature four people on our instrument, in the field of European orchestral performance: Guido Segers (Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, Germany), Andrea Lucchi (Orchestra of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome, Italy), Raúl Junquera (Orchestra of Valencia, Spain) and Ángel Serrano (Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, Spain).
Four authentic talents. Four different approaches. But each with the same profile: musical excellence.
This occasion was deserving, that we speak with them in order to know them a little better, and so that the students of the Xàtiva Trumpet Days know what class of teachers they are going to find there, as well as their teaching methods. So, without further ado, let's get to the interview.
First of all, Guido, Andrea, Raúl and Ángel: thank you for granting us this interview at Trumpetland. The first thing that our followers surely want to know is where each of you come from, that is to say, which is your school, who were your teachers.
Andrea: I started studying trumpet with my father. Then I went to the Gioachino Rossini Conservatory in Pesaro (Italy), with Terzo Cattani, and finally I did postgraduate studies in Detmold (Germany) with Max Sommerhalder.
Raúl: At the Advanced Conservatory of Valencia (Spain), with Professor Leopoldo Vidal, and in Paris, with Pierre Thibaud. In addition, I have given master classes with Bo Nilsson, Thomas Stevens, John Wilbraham, Håkan Hardenberger, Max Sommerhalder, Andrea Lucchi and Gábor Tarkövi, among others.
Ángel: I started at La Artística Music Society of Buñol, Valencia (Spain), with professors Salvador Albert Tarragó and Salvador Albert Palop. Then, I went to the Advanced Conservatory of Valencia, with Leopoldo Vidal, and the Conservatory of Amsterdam (Netherlands), with Willem van der Vliet.
Since we now know where you come from, how has your professional career been?
Guido: From 1985 to 1994, I was principal trumpet of the National Orchestra of Belgium. In 1994, I started as principal at the Munich Philharmonic, where I still work, and since 2012, I have been a trumpet teacher at the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy School of Music and Theater in Leipzig (Germany).
Andrea: I started my career in the Arturo Toscanini orchestra, in Parma (Italy), with which I played my first Haydn accompanied by an orchestra, and then I spent four years at La Scala in Milan. While there, I started studying with Max Sommerhalder in Detmold, and after six months I won an audition for the principal in the RAI Symphony, in Turin. Later, in the year 2000, I started to play as a guest principal with the National Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome, where I ended up winning the position in 2003. I currently combine teaching with my orchestral schedule in different music schools around Rome.
Raúl: I was principal trumpet of the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra (Spain) between 1994 and 1996. From 1997 to 2017, I was principal of the Municipal Band of Valencia, and since 2017, I have been principal of the Orchestra of Valencia. I have also collaborated with other orchestras, such as the National Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome, Community of Madrid Symphony, Principality of Asturias Symphony, Balearic Symphony, Orchestra of Córdoba, City of Granada…
Ángel: I have been the first trumpet of the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra (Spain) since 1994, and also of the Cadaqués Orchestra, since 1998. As for my teaching work, I'm a Trumpet and Chamber Music teacher and director of the brass ensemble at the Catalonia College of Music — ESMUC, since 2002, and at the same time, professor of the orchestral repertoire class at Musikene — Advanced School of Music of the Basque Country, from 2004 to 2012.
In your case, what secret do you have in order to maintain your playing with such demand? That is, what is your daily trumpet routine that helps you perform at the highest level in the orchestra?
Guido: For me, it is crucial to work and reinforce basic fundamentals, every day. That is: flexibility, tonguing, sound, vocalises, etc.
Andrea: I don’t have a fixed routine. What I do have, is an invariable objective: to get a beautiful and natural sound with a very precise attack — which is the most important thing in my work — so I try to practice things that help me achieve that.
Raúl: Every day, I warm-up with simple exercises, first with the mouthpiece and then with the trumpet. They are basically flow exercises and vocalises, with the purpose of finding good flexibility and a good, centered sound. After rehearsal with the orchestra, with the quintet, with my organist, etc., I study 2 hours a day. One hour is dedicated to technique (Stamp, Clarke, Bai Lin, Colin, Arban … combining the exercises according to the technical aspect that needs to work on that day) and the other to repertoire.
Ángel: My routine depends a lot on the type of work I have that day, but almost always revolves around some breathing and relaxation exercises before I start, in the morning, and a brief warm-up, later adding articulation and flexibility exercises where the sound quality needs it and make everything as relaxed as possible. Afterwards, I work in the orchestra.
Do you also consider the instruments you use important? What brand of trumpets do you play, and why?
Guido: I play on Adams trumpets, either in B flat, C or the piccolo. They are just what I look for in terms of sound, but I also like their projection in the orchestra, which is fantastic.
Andrea: I’ve played Bach trumpets since I was little. My father already played Bach. For me, the sound of these instruments perfectly combines with my sound concept.
Raúl: On B-flat, I use a Bach Stradivarius 37 model-50th anniversary; on C, a Bach Stradivarius 229 with a 25H pipe; on cornet, a Bach Stradivarius 184; on piccolo, a Schilke P5-4 Butler/Geyer; on rotary, a Schagerl Berlin Heavy in the key of C. I put the quality of sound before any other characteristic, and these instruments give me the result that I try to reach on every type of repertoire.
Ángel: I, like Guido, play on Adams, and I even collaborated on the design of the trumpets. Besides being a brand that has contributed to the development and evolution of the trumpet, I would emphasize that the instruments that come out of the Adams factory have everything that a perfect instrument should have: sound quality, tuning, versatility (to play different styles without having to change the trumpet), ease of execution, and ease of matching with the other members of the orchestra (whether metal, wood or string), thanks to its wealth of harmonics … It is difficult to gather all that in one instrument, but Adams has it.
We now know a little more about your professional profile, so our next question is what it’s like to take a lesson with you. What approach do you have to teaching?
Guido: I like working with young people who have the dream and the determination to play the trumpet well. My goal is to give them a lot of information and advice that will surely help them reach a good level.
Andrea: The first thing I do is try to find a feeling of relaxation with their playing, so their blowing is natural and that they speak through the trumpet. Playing is like talking; you do not need many artificialities to get a good sound. I try to teach them how to sing with the instrument, using the best methods of air, lips and tongue.
Raúl: For me, it is essential that they achieve a good technical level, which is necessary to play any passage with comfort, and not have difficulties that prevent them from achieving what they want to express (a trumpet player can be very musical, but technically challenged when facing certain passages which their musicality will not serve him/her very much). I also encourage them to listen to a lot of classical music, not just trumpet, to enrich themselves, artistically.
Ángel: My main concern is that they learn to study well. It is not so important what is practiced, but how it is practiced. Each student must learn to discern what is the correct form of study for themselves. The duration of study is important, but more important is the use of that time, and the distribution of breaks.
Finally, do you have any advice you would like to give to the young trumpeters who are reading this interview?
Guido: After all these years of playing in an orchestra as a soloist, what I can say is that, for me — and I also think for the new generations of trumpeters — the most important thing is to work hard on all the basic fundamentals, to have great control over the breath, the embouchure, etc.
Andrea: Try to be as natural as possible, and do not believe what is said of playing by buzzing with the lips (the function of the lips is simply to support the breath). Instead, learn to blow in tune, like when you whistle. Practice a lot, but always with a musical idea.
Raúl: Perseverance of study, motivation, looking for new challenges every day, and facing challenges with humility. The trumpet is an instrument that sooner or later puts everyone in their place.
Ángel: Be persistent. With discipline, passion, and a desire to learn, you can obtain what you want. The trumpet is a difficult instrument, but it will surely give you many joys.
Thanks once again, Guido, Andrea, Raúl and Ángel, for devoting a bit of your time to helping us get to know you better.
And to all our followers who are reading this, remember you have an appointment to work with these four grand figures of the trumpet from April 23 to 27, 2019 in Játiva, Valencia, where you can put into practice all the advice and information that these professors have so kindly shared. The program is very complete: on Tuesday the 23rd, there is an opening recital of trumpet and organ (each trumpet faculty member) in the basilica of Játiva; and with the remaining four days, there will be a morning warm-up directed by each teacher, individual classes, ensemble rehearsals (also led by a different teacher each day), and at night, a concert (in a different space within the city).
It should be noted that there will also be two other exceptional trumpet players who will give concerts: David Pastor (playing with his jazz trio) and Raúl “Chocolate” (fusion music in the market square).
It promises to be an unforgettable and unrepeatable event. Don’t hesitate, sign up now, there are only a few days left before registration closes. Space is limited and running out. Act now! Premium members of Trumpetland receive a 10% discount.
See you at the 2019 Xàtiva Trumpet Days!