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Thomas Smith



A native of Detroit, Michigan, Thomas Smith came to the Philharmonic as fourth and utility trumpet in July 1998. He is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy and the New England Conservatory of Music, where he received a bachelor’s degree with distinction in 1981. He continued orchestral studies at Tanglewood with the fellowship program in the summers of 1981 and 1982, and began a freelance career in Boston playing with Sarah Caldwell’s Opera Company of Boston and Gunther Schuller’s New England Ragtime Ensemble. He also performed regularly with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra as well as the Boston Pops, and Boston Symphony Orchestra.

An avid chamber musician, Smith has performed with the new music groups Collage and Musica Viva. He has recorded with Empire Brass, Boston Pops, and New England Ragtime Ensemble.

His principal teachers included Robert Nagel, Vincent Penzarella, Allen Dean, and Roger Voisin. Smith and his wife, MaryAnn, have three children: Zack, Molly, and Zoe.

Interview with Thomas Smith

THE FACTS: Born in Detroit, Michigan. Studied at Interlochen Arts Academy and New England Conservatory of Music. Prior to the Philharmonic: freelance musician in Boston. At the Philharmonic: Joined July 1998. Teaches at Manhattan School of Music and Mannes School of Music

EARLIEST MUSICAL MEMORY: Hearing my mom play the piano by ear — something I can’t do! I was one of nine children and we all tried an instrument. The trumpet was actually chosen for me in the fourth grade. The music director at school put mouth pieces of various instruments on a tray, and whichever one you made the most noise on became your instrument. We played in the band and got to wear bright red jackets at performances, which I thought was kind of cool.

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING A MUSICIAN? Sitting in a large ensemble and surrounding my senses in sound

WHO WERE YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MUSICAL INFLUENCES? My early music teacher and band director, Leonard Schemm, and former New York Philharmonic trumpeter Vincent Penzarella, who helped take my playing up a few levels after college

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN? In high school — I heard a concert by the Interlochen Arts Academy Wind Ensemble and my jaw dropped to the floor. I was bitten by the bug.

WHAT IS MOST DIFFICULT ABOUT YOUR JOB? Trying to keep in great shape on my instrument. I play fourth / utility trumpet, meaning that I play anything I'm called on to play — kind of a swing man.

WHAT WOULD YOU BE IF NOT A MUSICIAN? I always liked mechanical drawing and drafting.

DO YOU PRACTICE A LOT? Yes. At home I practice late at night, and I won’t allow myself to do it if I can’t first sight-sing a line of a Bach chorale or a vocalise on pitch to get myself totally focused. You can get into bad habits if your brain isn’t there.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS WITH THE ORCHESTRA: Going to Pyongyang, North Korea, in 2008 and seeing their musicians and dancers perform traditional Korean music and dance

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO OUTSIDE OF WORK? Play games and read with my daughter Zoe. I also like to cook and work on our house. I'm an incurable home do-it-yourself guy.

As of March 2017

“In junior high school I heard a concert by the Interlochen Arts Academy Wind Ensemble and my jaw dropped to the floor. I was bitten by the bug.”

Upcoming 2023-2024 Performances

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