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Ethan Bensdorf



Ethan Bensdorf joined the New York Philharmonic’s trumpet section on June 3, 2008, after spending the 2007–08 season as acting assistant principal trumpet with the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra in Naples, Florida. He received his bachelor of music degree from Northwestern University in 2007, where he studied with Barbara Butler, Charles Geyer, and Christopher Martin. While a student at Northwestern, Bensdorf spent two years performing with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the training orchestra for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and also performed with the New World Symphony and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s contemporary ensemble, MusicNOW. In May 2005, Bensdorf was selected to perform at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts representing Northwestern University as part of “The Conservatory Project” recital series.

In September of 2006, Bensdorf received the Armando Ghitalla International Trumpet Classic Award, which included solo appearances with the United States Coast Guard Band and the Berkshire Symphony Orchestra in Massachusetts. He also spent two summers as a participant in the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan; one summer at the National Orchestral Institute in Maryland; and was selected as a Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center in the summers of 2006 and 2007, where he received the Voisin Trumpet Award.

"What I like about the trumpet is that it has so much possibility — loud fanfares, soft solos. I try to imitate the music I hear on other instruments to become an all-encompassing musician."

Interview with Ethan Bensdorf

THE FACTS: Born in Evanston, Illinois. Bachelor of music, Northwestern University (2007). Prior to the Philharmonic: acting assistant principal trumpet, Naples (Florida) Philharmonic; Civic Orchestra of Chicago; Fellow, Tanglewood Music Center, where he received the Voisin Trumpet Award. At the Philharmonic: Joined in June 2008.

EARLIEST MUSICAL MEMORY: Listening to my sister practice the oboe. Every summer since I was five my family would visit her at the Interlochen Arts Camp, where I was destined to go, starting at age ten.

FIRST PIECE OF MUSIC YOU FELL IN LOVE WITH: Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 — it was the first piece of music I remember paying attention to the whole way through.

WHEN DID YOU BEGIN THE TRUMPET? I played the piano from ages 6 to 12. I picked up the trumpet my first summer at Interlochen while enrolled in a class called “instrument exploration.” The instructor said I had a “natural talent,” so I started playing it in the fifth-grade band at school the following fall.

WHEN DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU WANTED TO BE A PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN? As long as I can remember it was always the path I was on. I did play soccer pretty seriously through my second year of high school until I decided to quit to become more serious about music.

MOST IMPORTANT MUSICAL INFLUENCES: My family, for supporting me, and my teacher at Northwestern, Barbara Butler — my “trumpet mom.” I also grew up listening to trumpeter Adolph Herseth of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra — truly inspirational.

WHY DO YOU LIKE THE TRUMPET? It has so much possibility — loud fanfares, soft solos. I try to imitate the music I hear on other instruments to become an all-encompassing musician.

WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT ASPECT OF YOUR JOB? Staying focused while not getting lost in the extraordinary music-making around me.

IF YOU COULD PLAY ANOTHER INSTRUMENT, WHAT WOULD IT BE? I think the English Horn is one of the orchestra’s most expressive instruments. Some of classical music’s most beautiful moments are heard on the English Horn.

ARE THERE MUSICIANS IN YOUR FAMILY? My sister is principal oboe of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra; my mom performed in musical theater; and my grandfather played the violin.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO OUTSIDE OF WORK? Photography, soccer, and trying new coffee shops and restaurants.

As of February 2015

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