Tom Hooten trumpeter

Tom Hooten, trumpeter

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music and who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

Initially, I was inspired to play trumpet because my father played it for fun. My grandmother was also an organist and a piano player, so I often heard them playing on the weekends-old jazz standards and them having little jam sessions. Later, after I decided to become a professional musician, my biggest influence was Armando Ghitalla, who was the former Principal Trumpet of the Boston Symphony. Ghitalla was responsible for setting me on a path that would give me the possibility to do my current job, and to continue to improve on trumpet to this day. He was a man of integrity that believed in building good character traits as well as good musical/trumpet skills. I have a big photo of him in my studio, and his memory brings me so much joy.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

By far, the biggest challenge was changing my embouchure in graduate school at the age of 21. I completely started over and it was the roughest year that I’ve ever had. The silver lining was that I developed a passion for learning and I separated the idea of being a trumpet player and being a musician from who I was as a person. Being a trumpet player was simply being tenacious about learning what skills are needed, and turning over every rock and every setback to figure out what my next step of development was. Ghitalla was the one that encouraged and guided me through the beginning of this process, and honestly, it still continues to this day. What excites me more than anything is finding some new distinction that allows me to play my instrument better, which can allow me to express an emotion and connect with the audience in a deeper way,

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

I’m very proud of the Hooten Plays Williams recording. This was a project that really pushed me out of my comfort zone. It challenged me to fundraise and to muster up the confidence to collaborate with an icon like John Williams.

Which particular works do you think you perform best?

My job as a performer requires me to wear many different hats. I have the most experience playing Principal Trumpet in an orchestra, therefore I feel very confident in playing Mahler-John Williams. That being said, I am also very passionate and enjoy very much performing recitals and solo engagements. Honestly, I try not to think of what I’m best at, rather I try to consider it all as a journey and coming into trusting my instincts and connecting more with an audience. In some ways, it’s easier to connect with an audience in a recital situation, however, leading an orchestra brass section can be one of the most thrilling and impactful ensemble experiences out there. Another role that I’ve had the opportunity to engage in is movie music. This is also a way to augment another highly impactful medium, and this is something I have enjoyed very much in recent years.

What do you do off stage that provides inspiration on stage?

Lately, I have been exploring different ways of bringing awareness and relaxation to my body, especially in areas that I may have learned tension subconsciously. This may not be the first place one would think of in terms of inspiration for the stage. However, for me, it’s been incredibly beneficial and inspiring to learn independence within my physical approach This brings inspiration in the form of being able to increase my awareness around me, whether listening to other musicians or being in touch with what I truly want to communicate through the music.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

Well, of course, I cannot choose the LA Phil repertoire. When it comes to my own repertoire, I go in phases, I suppose. It really comes from intuition.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

It’s hard to pick a favourite. Some halls are better for different things. I love playing is Disney Concert Hall here in LA for its beautiful clarity and shine.

What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music audiences/listeners?

There is much being done that I love and I believe will help in the sharing this wonderful music. However, I don’t think the definition of “what is classical” has to stay the same. I think we need to continue to ask the question “who is our community,” both past and present, and try to help our audiences relate as human beings to these composers, artists, and musicians.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

The annual John Williams programme at the Hollywood Bowl

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

This is a tough one. From a strictly musical sense, I think it would be creating positive and augmented experience of life for those who listen. From a professional side, it would be to create abundance for me and family while also creating art and teaching tools for others, in order to help them to improve and grow.

What is your present state of mind?

Right now, I am really focusing on what it is to relax. This may seem trite or kind of funny. However, I think my path to becoming a better musician and person is being more aware of my body, and how I told tension and many other emotions. I believe tension is emotion (both old and recent) and emotion isn’t just mental, it’s physical. I’ve been so happy with the results of this work, and I love incorporating it into my teaching. Deep Breathing, Body Work through bioenergetics, and Chakra breathing. It has brought much more joy and overall quicker improvement in areas that I felt stuck for some time.

Principal Trumpet of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Tom Hooten is one of the world’s most prominent classical trumpeters today. He can be heard on numerous recordings with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and the National Brass Ensemble.

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