Who or what inspired you to take up the trumpet and pursue a career in music?
My dad played the trumpet when he was at school, and, aged 8, I stumbled across his old instrument in the cupboard. Naturally I was keen to have a go on it and wanted to take lessons and that’s how I started playing the trumpet! My trumpet teacher Andy Mitchell was then instrumental in cultivating my love for the trumpet, coaching me for four years through my auditions and role as Principal in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. He also helped me prepare for the two BBC competitions in my final year of school and it was during this period that I realised I wanted to pursue a career as a trumpeter.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Over the last three years, my teacher at the Royal Academy of Music, Mark David, has made a huge difference to my musical career. He provides me with invaluable guidance, encouraging me to think about interesting ways to phrase different passages of music, helping me solve technical issues and always paying attention to the smallest of details. Other hugely important influences on my musical life are some of the amazing conductors that I’ve had the opportunity to work with as Principal Trumpet of the European Union Youth Orchestra. Performing under Bernard Haitink and Gianandrea Noseda were particularly formative experiences for me, due to the incredibly powerful musical convictions of these two maestros.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
The greatest challenge of my career so far has actually happened very recently. Earlier this year, I decided to change mouthpieces due to problems with intonation and production of sound with my former mouthpiece. Essentially, I had outgrown the mouthpiece that I had been playing on for six years and needed to make a change to overcome this obstacle. As any brass player will know, a new mouthpiece takes quite a long time to get used to, so what followed was a very frustrating few months of going back to the basics. However, after making this change I am now seeing improvement in my playing, showing that it was all worth it!
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my debut album Direct Message (released October 5th). The disc is full of my favourite works for trumpet and piano from the 20th and 21st centuries, including staples of the repertoire such as Enescu’s Légende and Peter Maxwell Davies’ formidable Sonata for Trumpet and Piano. I am also very excited to have made the first recordings of three works: Deborah Pritchard’s Seven Halts on the Somme, Giles Swayne’s Sangre Viva and Alex Woolf’s Direct Message, which was commissioned for the CD. It is hugely important to me to contribute to the expansion of the trumpet repertoire, so, as well as these new works, the disc features some lesser-known French pieces from the twentieth century by Jacques Castérède and Raymond Gallois-Montbrun.
Which particular works do you think you play best?
I have always particularly enjoyed playing pieces with long phrases of lyrical melodies. Many trumpet pieces purely show off the technical and virtuosic sides of the trumpet, but I think the melodic side is equally beautiful and so I love to play pieces that really demonstrate the singing qualities of the trumpet. These include the masterpiece for trumpet and piano, Légende by Romanian composer Georges Enescu, which is framed with a gorgeous expressive melody, and one of the only pieces for trumpet written in the 19th century, Oskar Böhme’s Konzert in F minor.
Who are your favourite musicians?
My trumpet hero is Håkan Hardenberger for his flawless technical virtuosity, charismatic stage presence and attention to detail. I’ve been lucky enough to have a few lessons with him and he has changed my approach to playing the trumpet and how to practise. No trumpeter’s answer to this question would be complete without mentioning the legendary Maurice André as a huge inspiration, particularly for his wonderful sound. I also love listening to famous soprano Barbara Hannigan to hear the resonance in her voice so as to try and replicate it when playing the trumpet.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
My most memorable concert experience has to be making my debut performance as a soloist at the BBC Proms in 2016. Having almost 6,000 people in the audience, plus many more listening on the radio and watching on the television, created the most extraordinary atmosphere in the Royal Albert Hall and made it an extremely special occasion. It was so wonderful to perform a piece that I love, the Finale from Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in Eb, with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra under Alpesh Chauhan at such a prestigious festival as the Proms.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
I feel that I have been successful in a concert if I have genuinely moved the audience by the end. Whether that’s bringing happiness and making people smile through playing fun virtuosic works such as Arban’s Carnival of Venice, or causing people to feel emotional through performing works like Deborah Pritchard’s Seven Halts on the Somme, which was written to commemorate the centenary of the First World War and evokes the themes of memory and human identity. I always enjoy engaging with an audience after a concert to hear which pieces people liked the best and how these pieces affected them, so for me that is the most important thing about a successful performance.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
In ten years’ time it is my dream to be touring the world as an international trumpet soloist, performing concertos in amazing concert halls with the best orchestras and conductors. I would like to share the music that I make with as many people as possible, and I would love the opportunity to travel to many different places in order to achieve this. I would also love to have a professorial role in a conservatoire so as to be able to help support the next generation of trumpet players!
What is your most treasured possession?
My most treasured possession is actually a signed score. The score is the trumpet part of Peter Maxwell Davies’ Sonata for Trumpet and Piano – his opus 1 and the first serious avant-garde trumpet sonata – and it was signed by Elgar Howarth, the trumpet player for whom the piece was written and who premiered the work in the 1950s. When recording this formidable piece for my debut album, I was very lucky to have him in the studio with me to give guidance and advice, and he was kind enough to sign my score at the end of the session.
Matilda Lloyd’s debut album Direct Message is released on 5 October on the Orchid Classics label. Further information here