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For Anthony L. Pasquarelli, our teacher,
our mentor, our friend, our inspiration.
Concerto for Trumpet
Drew Fennell, composer


I have had some tremendous male role models in my life. First, of course, is my father. So often, we do not realize what we are learning from someone - or that we are learning at all - until much later. My relationship with my dad has been like that. Likewise, the impact my two major trumpet teachers had on me (both as a musician and as a person) has become more clear as the years have passed. All that began with Bob Skamai, who got me started with the trumpet and showed me so perfectly - by example, with the playing of a simple tune - the difference between playing notes and making music. Later, Anthony Pasquarelli gave me the tools to realize my potential as a player. Along the way, he taught me many lessons about how to be a professional and how to live my life well. And, of course, I am only one of many hundreds of students who have experienced his influence.

In 2003, Joel Greenberger and Louis Casini (both students of Mr. Pasquarelli) approached me with the idea of my writing a piece for trumpet and orchestra to celebrate our teacher's many years as a trumpet professor at Carnegie Mellon University. I was incredibly flattered and at the same time completely overwhelmed. After all, I had never written anything for orchestra, let alone something which would be a gift to a man who was so important to me and to so many others. It had to be worthy - and I was afraid I might not be the right guy for the job. But I thought I would be crazy to say no, so I took it on.

The first notes of the piece were written in July of 2003. By January of 2004, I'd written eight minutes of music - one movement of the Concerto (the third movement, as it turns out). I was afraid this project might be bigger than I could handle. But while on tour with the River City Brass Band, I got a jolt from hearing David Gedris working on it; so I kept on.

It was to be premiered in March of 2004, but because of limited rehearsal time at Carnegie Mellon - and, frankly, because I was pretty far from completing the piece - the premiere was delayed. Eventually, it was rescheduled for October of 2004. It would be performed for the first time for Carnegie Mellon University's Homecoming Celebrations. During the summer of 2004, I worked fairly steadily and completed the piece in early September - true to form, just in the nick of time...

David Gedris was incredibly attentive and set himself to learning what is possibly one of the most challenging solo pieces ever written for the trumpet. I consider his preparation and performance as a truly Herculean effort; and, frankly, an accomplishment I think few trumpet players in the world would ever manage. I am sure there were moments he hated me, but to his credit he never said so; he's a good friend. And, in my defense, he was fond of saying things like "Write it. I'll play it." I somehow doubt he'd be so cavalier if he had it to do over again! Still, what a job he did.

The premiere went well. Dave played great, I conducted ... okay ... and the piece came off pretty well. The audience was kind - perhaps more kind than I deserved. Most importantly, Mr. Pasquarelli - whom his students affectionately refer to as "The Boss" - was pleased. The outpouring of appreciation for him was incredibly gratifying to me.

Leading up to the performance, I was quoted in my hometown newspaper, the Leader Times, as having said, "You only get so many chances in your life to thank the people who made you who you are." For all its flaws - and there are many - this piece is my gift to a great teacher.

  • The Concerto for Trumpet is published by Drew Fennell Publishing.
    Available for Solo Trumpet with Orchestra and Solo Trumpet w/ Piano.

  • Read a review from the ITG (International Trumpet Guild) Journal here.]

  • Hear Movement I, Movement II (Intermezzo), Movement III of the Concerto for Trumpet in a live performance (complete) by the Carnegie Mellon University Philharmonic Orchestra, Juan Pablo Izqierdo, Music Director (Drew Fennell, Guest Conductor), David Gedris, Trumpet Soloist [orchestra version]*.

  • Hear a short sample of Movement I, Movement II (Intermezzo), Movement III of the Concerto for Trumpet in a live performance by Joel Greenberger with Donna Amato, Pianist [solo trumpet with piano version]*.

  • Hear a sample of the Concerto for Trumpet, mvt. II in a live performance by the River City Youth Brass Band, Louis Casini, Conductor, Drew Fennell, Trumpet Soloist [brass band version]*.

*Right click on the link and choose Save Target As... to download the file.

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Program Notes

The Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra (in F major) was composed, intermittently, between July of 2003 and September of 2004. The piece was commissioned by the students of Anthony L. Pasquarelli to honor him at his retirement after forty-seven years of teaching at Carnegie Mellon University. In addition to being commissioned for Mr. Pasquarelli, the Concerto is also very much about him.

The first movement remembers Mr. Pasquarelli’s successful career as a trumpet player. It begins simply with a short woodwind chorale, outlining the main theme of the piece – the “Teacher’s Theme” – representing Mr. Pasquarelli himself. The balance of the piece is derivative of this theme. Moments later, the trumpet soloist enters with the heroic “Trumpeter’s Theme.” Following a short orchestral outburst, the soloist is put to the test with a very challenging cadenza, which marks the end of the introduction. The thematic material is exploited further in a series of gymnastic episodes, including a neo-classical fugue. Each section requires tasteful execution and flawless technique by the soloist. At the coda, the orchestra joyously recalls the “Trumpeter’s Theme,” with the soloist soaring above, leading to a furious conclusion to the movement.

The second movement calls to mind Mr. Pasquarelli’s dedication to his family with a song for Alice, his equally-devoted wife. Just as in the first movement, the second begins with the main theme of the entire piece, this time played with sweet simplicity. The strings murmur a warm chordal progression, awaiting the long, sweeping phrases of the solo trumpet. We hear a simple and earnest statement by the strings, leading to some intimate moments by the soloist. The ethereal quality then gives way to flamboyant melodies, ending in a short cadenza. The woodwinds, and then the strings, lead us back to a lush recapitulation of the first theme, with a passionate descant by the soloist. The movement ends, much as it began, with whispering strings and winds.

The third movement honors Mr. Pasquarelli, the teacher. Memories of my years of study are represented here. We begin in the mid-morning, hearing the young trumpet student preparing in a practice room for his lesson. Then, we hear a fully-realized version of the “Teacher’s Theme,” as, looking out a window across the campus, the student sees his teacher, walking. Following the chorale, we hear the soloist (as the student) warming up bit more, leading into the main body of the final movement. Here, the soloist/student is put through his paces with a fast and very challenging rondo. With increasing difficulty, all the technical aspects of trumpet playing are explored here. Finally, at the coda of the movement, we hear the triumphant return of the “Trumpeter’s Theme,” representing the student’s coming-of-age. All the while, that theme is chordally-supported by the “Teacher’s Theme.” The fast tempo resumes, and the piece concludes with an exciting outburst.

Duration: approximately 22 minutes

  • View an unformatted text version of these program notes, suitable for use in concert programs; this is the orchestra version of the program notes (shown above)*.

  • View an unformatted text version of these program notes, suitable for use in concert programs; this is the standard version (non-orchestra-specific) of the program notes*.

*Right click on the link and choose Save Target As... to download the file.

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Orchestra Instrumentation

1st Flute
2nd Flute
1st Oboe
2nd Oboe
1st Bassoon
2nd Bassoon
1st Clarinet in Bb
2nd Clarinet in Bb
Bass Clarinet in Bb

Solo Trumpet in C
1st Trumpet in C
2nd Trumpet in C
3rd Trumpet in C
1st Horn in F
2nd Horn in F
3rd Horn in F
4th Horn in F
1st Trombone
2nd Trombone
3rd Bass Trombone
1st Violin
2nd Violin
Double Bass

(3 or 4 players)
Percussion includes:
bell tree
suspended cymbal
crash cymbals
snare drum
bass drum

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Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 Drew Fennell
International Copyright Secured  All Rights Reserved