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20 Questions on the 20th with David Byrd-Marrow

Hornist David Byrd-Marrow
Hornist David Byrd-Marrow

Hornist David Byrd-Marrow is our featured musician for December’s 20 on 20! Mr. Byrd-Marrow is the solo horn of the International Contemporary Ensemble, and newly appointed Assistant Professor of Horn at the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver. Additionally, David has performed with many of the world’s great orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Atlanta and Tokyo Symphonies, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and many more.

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

I started playing drums in 1st grade but soon moved to cornet in 2nd (because trumpet was too big).

2. How would you describe your perfect day?

My perfect day would start by waking up naturally, with the sun and not by alarm. Then, depending on the weather, I’d either make coffee and breakfast. My signature egg scramble is from the Rose Bakery’s book, “How to Boil an Egg”. I’d make that and bacon. Then I’d warm up and do some daily horn exercises. After an hour or so I’d take care of office type work, although on a perfect day that wouldn’t exist. Then I’d probably start cooking dinner or whatever the large meal of the day would be. Maybe I’d roast a chicken. We musicians usually eat earlier because of performances, so keep in mind that on an ideal day this would maybe take place at the orthodox dinner hour (perhaps with a Muller-Thurgau or something dry and refreshing). I’m starting to realize that my ideal day is based on consumption. At some point I may or may not exercise. I’m usually equally happy with either choice. Usually. I listen to podcasts when I exercise. I have what I would consider to be a lot of range. Anything from The Bodega Boys to Adam Carolla to Ben Greenfield (is it redundant to listen to a health and fitness podcast while exercising?). After some sort of exercise I’d eat more of what I already made. The rest is music, streaming, or reading into the late hours. Wash, rinse, repeat.

3. Most memorable performance?

I recently played at Suntory Hall in Tokyo with Orpheus. My in-laws live there and they came. They’d never seen me play live so I was really happy to have the opportunity to share what I do with them (while also confirming that their son-in-law works for a living). What they didn’t know was that I was going to address the audience…in Japanese. I think I may have given my wife Yuko a heart attack but it was a nice moment. #worthit

4. Significant teachers/mentors in your life?

I’d like to thank my high school teacher Richard Deane for setting me up to focus on the right things early on, and also for keeping my confidence up by not telling me how awful I was in the beginning until much, much later. Thanks go to Jerome Ashby for putting a special sound in the ears of his students. And, of course, thanks to William Purvis for teaching his students to explore all of the sounds available.

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

Composing. It’s happening, I think.

6. Favorite symphony?

Was Mahler 7 in high school, then Brahms 3 in college. Now I don’t know. I’m starting to feel like the power of a symphony is in the hands of the group of people playing it. There are master composers, but they only have so much influence once the ink is dry.

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

My Grandmother passed a year ago. I guess it wasn’t necessarily she that made me cry, but thinking of all of the memories. The same thing happens with music sometimes as well.

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

A beach house on a nice beach.

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

I’ve never been to Mexico.

10. Opera or ballet?

Ballet.

11. First job?

Freelancer. DU will be my first salary.

12. Favorite sports team?

Atlanta United. Braves, all-time favorite.

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

Anthony Bourdain.

14. Coffee or Tea?

Coffee.

15. Favorite book?

The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu.

16. Favorite movie?

Hard choice but maybe Wong Kar Wai’s In The Mood for Love.

17. Siblings?

Nope.

18. Favorite piece to play?

Ligeti Horn Trio.

19. Least favorite piece to play?

Most Mozart concerti. I don’t want people to think I hate Mozart. I love Mozart. It just brings me to my most self-critical state of being.

20. Dogs or cats?

Dogs!

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20 Questions on the 20th with Micah Wilkinson

Micah Wilkinson, Principal Trumpet, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Micah Wilkinson, Principal Trumpet of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Micah Wilkinson is featured this month in our 20 on 20 series! Mr. Wilkinson is currently the Principal Trumpet of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and has performed with many of the world’s great orchestras throughout his exciting career.

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

I started piano when I was five and sang in the children’s choir at my church when I was young. I picked up the trumpet when I joined middle school band in 6th grade.

2. Could you describe your perfect day?

I love adventure, something that makes for a great story, so I try to embrace whatever life brings. Ideally it would include delicious coffee and quality time with friends and family.

3. Most memorable performance?

Hard to say! Mahler 5 with the Pittsburgh Symphony in NYC comes to mind. It was my first time playing Mahler 5. Mahler 1 at the Proms in London on my first international tour with the PSO was also pretty special.

4. Significant teachers/mentors in your life?

My primary teachers were Larry Black from the Atlanta Symphony, Marty Hodel at St. Olaf, Tony Plog in Freiburg, Germany, and Dave Hickman at ASU. Countless others have had an impact on me musically and personally. One of the great things about my wandering career, in which I have played various positions in over a half-dozen orchestras, is that I have been able to learn from so many incredible musicians. I’m lucky to call many of them friends, and I still look up to them as mentors.

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

Recording a solo album.

6. Favorite symphony?

On any given day, it could be a different Mahler Symphony. I also love Nielsen 4, Brahms 2, Schmidt 2, Sibelius 2, Mozart 35, Prokofiev 5…I could go on!

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

My 4 year old daughter, telling me how much she missed me when I was traveling! Also, Toy Story 4.

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

A house in the mountains.

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

I roast my own coffee, and I geek out with all kinds of coffee brewing methods.

10. Opera or ballet?

Opera.

11. First job?

2nd Trumpet, La Crosse (WI) Symphony Orchestra (during my Jr and Sr years at St. Olaf College). First full time job was 3rd trumpet with the Tucson Symphony.

12. Favorite sports team?

Atlanta Braves.

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

Yo Yo Ma. He strikes me as a great dinner guest – brimming with kindness and warmth.

14. Coffee or tea?

Coffee!

15. Favorite book?

Traveling Mercies, by Anne Lamott.

16. Favorite movie?

Princess Bride.

17. Siblings?

Younger sister, Meredith. She’s making the world a better place. I am so proud of her.

18. Favorite piece to play?

Whatever’s on my stand! I love playing Petrouchka & American in Paris because they are so well written for the trumpet. Mahler Symphonies and Strauss Tone Poems always present a challenging thrill. I’m happy with anything that has a juicy lyrical solo.

19. Least favorite piece to play?

Iron Foundry, by Alexander Mosolov.

20. Dogs or cats?

Dogs! I have a half-Basset, half-Australian Shepherd named Barber (after Samuel Barber).