20 Questions with James Nova - Houghton Horns

20 Questions with James Nova

We caught up with James Nova for July’s edition of 20 Questions. Jim is Second/Utility Trombone of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Brass Area Coordinator and Adjunct Trombone Faculty at Duquesne University’s Mary Pappert School of Music, and the creator of numerous “Novadubs”. Take a listen at soundcloud.com/jimnova, and be sure to check out jimnova.com.

1. What was your first instrument and how old were you when you started? 

Yamaha student model trombone. 9 years old.

2. Could you describe what would be your perfect day? 

Rehearsal and concert of the music of John Williams with him at the podium. Dinner with JW in between. 

3. Most memorable performance? 

Playing the Mozart Requiem (solo) at the Musikverein with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Manfred Honeck on the podium, my Dad, stepmom and wife Lindsey in the audience.

4. Significant  teachers/mentors in your life? 

George Sanders, Glenn Dodson, Norman Bolter and Joe Alessi. 

5. Something you’ve been meaning to try, but just haven’t gotten around to it? 


6. Favorite symphony? 

Tie between Mahler’s 3rd and 5th symphonies. 

7. Who was the last person that made you cry and why? 

My vet, when he said, “It’s time to let Duke (my dog) go.” Right before we put him to sleep. He was 16 1/2 and had cancer. I had him since he was a puppy. 

8. If money was no object, what would you buy? 

A BMW racing team.

9. One thing most people don’t know about you? 

I’m a driving instructor at Pittsburgh International Raceway. 

10. Opera or ballet? 


11. First job? 

2nd trombone of the New Haven Symphony.

12. Favorite sports team? 


13. If you could invite one person to dinner tonight, who would it be? 

John Williams.

14. Coffee or Tea? 


15. Favorite book? 

“The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein.

16. Favorite movie? 

Empire Strikes Back.

17. Siblings? 

Older brother.

18. Favorite piece to play? 

Score to Empire Strikes Back.

19. Least favorite piece to play? 

Too hard to choose… maybe a tie between Sleigh Ride and Stars and Stripes Forever because I’ve played them toooooo much….

20. Dogs or cats? 


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