Can you tell us about your latest album, Festive Trumpets for Christmas? Do you have students playing with you in that album?
Yes, former students and current students alike. It was a very nice project because during lockdown, there were no concerts and my foreign students couldn’t go back to Japan, to Russia, or wherever else. So I tried to organize concerts in a church without an audience, and make live streams. The first time we did this, my very good friend who used to play trumpet (and is now a doctor) organized COVID tests so that we could feel safe coming together. It wasn’t possible in opera houses or concert halls, but it was possible in the churches. In my town in Hamburg, we have a very nice, very big church and every year, for over twenty years we have had concerts on the last days of the year, where 2500 people attend. We always play pieces for three trumpets and organ for one hour. They have a big tradition for Christmas oratory. Every time, the church is full. If you’re able to attend, you’ll know that it’s a very special atmosphere with the lights and the Christmas tree. This year, we produced this CD instead. The idea was to go to this church to make a video to catch this atmosphere on film because no one in Hamburg was able to see this beautiful church at Christmas time. I wanted to bring this atmosphere to the screens and to people’s homes. Therefore, I chose some repertoire that fascinated me; in particular the trumpet composition of Erik Morales. In fact, I asked him if he could compose a new piece for us with a Christmas title or Christmas theme. We talked a lot about it all and ended up with this wonderful composition for nine trumpets titled North Star Suite (based on the Christmas Oratory by Bach) which we played in this church and made a video recording of. It was so fun to play with my students! We worked very hard every day. We had all this time to do it because there was no school, no concerts, no stage music, no opera. We really worked hard on this project. I hope it was also a very nice atmosphere for them too — to have this project.
I then arranged some other pieces with my trumpet ensemble. We did the Scheidt Canzona with new ornaments as well. And then I asked my friend, Christian Schmitt, the organ player with whom I had already recorded with, to come up with some festive music for another recording. If you go to a church in Germany, you not only have a very big tradition of trumpet and organ, but also a trombone choir. Therefore, I thought it would be a good idea to have a Christmas choir with a brass ensemble. So, I asked some young players to come together and make this happen. I find it fantastic to work with young players because they are so motivated. Also involved were some very good former students of mine, as well as a fantastic tuba player and trombone player to make a sextet and play these pieces. This is fun for me, to come together to create something with a result that makes the audience happy.