20 Questions with William Gerlach - Houghton Horns

20 Questions with William Gerlach

William Gerlach began his position as principal trumpet with the National Symphony Orchestra in the 2014–2015 season. Growing up in Menomonee Falls, WI, he started playing trumpet when it was time to join the 6th grade band. William (Billy) earned his undergraduate degree at Indiana University under the instruction of John Rommel. During his time at IU, he attended the Aspen Music Festival, once as a member of the Third Street Brass Quintet, and once as a New Horizons trumpet fellow. In the Fall of 2012, he began his master’s degree at Northwestern University with Barbara Butler and Charles Geyer and followed them to Rice University in the fall of 2013. Mr. Gerlach is a Yamaha Artist, and will soon be releasing a new recording of works for Trumpet & Organ.

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

I started playing piano when I was about 5 years old.

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

A perfect day would be waking up to a good cup of coffee and a short practice session followed by a hike, good food, and good beer!

3. Most memorable performance?

I have to list more than one…

  • My trial week with the NSO, Bruckner 8 with Christoph Eschenbach
  • Mahler 9 with Christoph Eschenbach
  • Verdi Requiem with Gianandrea Noseda
  • And most recently, Mahler 5 with Gianandrea Noseda


4. Significant  teachers/mentors in your life?

Jennifer Atwater, Lonna Schickert, John Woger, Mike Zens, Mark Niehaus, John Rommel, Mallory Thompson, Larry Rachleff, Barbara Butler, Charlie Geyer.

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


6. Favorite symphony?

Mahler’s 8th Symphony.

7. When was the last time you cried, and why?

Death of a grandparent.

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

A mountain house in Colorado.

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

I’m pretty much an open book.

10. Opera or ballet?


11. First job?

Cashier at target.

12. Favorite sports team?

Green Bay Packers.

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

Bud Herseth.

14. Coffee or Tea?


15. Favorite book?

Does the Arban book count? (Dork).

16. Favorite movie?


17. Siblings?

I have one older sister.

18. Favorite piece to play?

Any Mahler symphony.

19. Least favorite piece to play?

I am honestly not a fan of super modern pieces.

20. Dogs or cats?

I have a cat and two dogs, so both!

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