I have performed and recorded with the Cincinnati Symphony, Cincinnati POPS and the Cincinnati Opera on numerous occasions. In 1995 the CSO wanted to kick off their May Festival with Herald Trumpets and asked me to help them. I organized a trumpet quartet and arranged fanfares from popular operas. I figured that since this was a vocal music loving audience that would be the ticket. Most of the May Festival audience would be familiar with the grand operas which feature trumpets so predominately.
This began a tradition that lasts until this day. One of my fanfares based on a trumpet solo from Pagliacci has been used by the Metropolitan Opera to kick off special events. Mel Broiles, my good friend and teacher who was the former principal trumpet of the Met for 44 years, used this quartet on several occasions with the trumpet section of the Met. It is fitting as the fanfare is dedicated to him. He performed the original solo fanfare at the Met while riding on a horse, holding the reins in one hand and his trumpet in the other.
Folks always want to know what kind of trumpets we play. They are standard Bb trumpets but instead of having the bells wrapped around the bells are extended. They are mainly used for ceremonial purposes. In Verdi’s Aida and Wagner’s Tannhauser they are used in the opera when royalty enters.
To this day Herald Trumpets are used in courts all over the western world, as well as by the US military whenever pomp and pageantry are needed.
We perform these fanfares from the front and back balconies of Cincinnati’s Music Hall, and also from the 2nd level foyer. From time to time some trumpeters have experienced vertigo, especially when we are up on the balcony facing Washington Park.
One year we decided it would be nice to get a little video of our quartet. When you are doing this kind of performance the last thing you have time to do is worry about setting up a camera, etc.
To make things simple I put my Flip video on a 6″ tripod resting on the rail you see us leaning against, turned it on and let it rip. I had Sam from the CSO staff make sure no one knocked the camera off onto an unsuspecting bystander’s head.
Wagner’s Lohengrin and Tannhauser and Lohengrin, Verdi’s Aida, and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci are featured in the live video below.