Born: Seattle, WA
Died: 5/4/2015; West Stockbridge, MA
Known as the founder of the Empire Brass Quintet, Rolf Smedvig was more than a virtuoso trumpeter, having appeared as a conductor almost as frequently as having appeared as soloist or chamber musician.
When he was just 13, Smedvig made his debut with his hometown Seattle Symphony as a trumpet soloist. He made the metropolitan Boston area his home when he decided to study at Boston University and Tanglewood. His teachers includedRead more Armando Ghitalla, Rafael Mendez, and Maurice André. The year 1971 was an eventful one for him. He founded the Empire Brass; Leonard Bernstein asked him to be trumpet soloist in the premiere of Bernstein's Mass to open the Kennedy Center; and he became assistant principal trumpet of the Boston Symphony, the youngest member of the orchestra at the time, at the age of 19. He was made principal trumpet in 1979, but stayed for only two years, wanting to develop his career as a soloist and chamber musician. Since then, his career was full and busy. As an original member and first trumpet of the Empire Brass, he made approximately 100 concert appearances a year and visited over 35 countries. He appeared as a soloist with the Boston Symphony, the Cambridge Chamber Orchestra, the New World Symphony, and Japan's NHK Orchestra; toured as soloist with the Atlantic Classical Orchestra and the Scottish Orchestra and conducted the Cambridge Chamber Orchestra, the Honolulu Symphony, the Northwest Chamber Orchestra, the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, and the Simón Bolívar Orchestra. Smedvig taught at Boston University, Tanglewood, and London's Royal Academy of Music, in addition to giving master classes. The 1996 Warner video The 21st Century Band Method features Smedvig, and he was a clinician for the instrument maker Selmer. His hundreds of arrangements for brass have been published by Schirmer, KRS Publishing, and International Music. A ballet, Passage, containing adapted, arranged, and original music all by Smedvig, was premiered in 1996 by the Boston Ballet. Smedvig's recordings can be found on the CBS/Sony, Angel EMI, and Telarc labels. His first Telarc CD, a 1990 release of virtuoso trumpet concertos, was nominated for a Grammy Award. 2002 saw the release of The Glory of Gabrieli, the 15th effort by Smedvig and the Empire Brass. Smedvig also appeared numerous times on national television and radio programs as a soloist, conductor, and with the Empire Brass. Read less
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