Q&A with APO Principal Trumpet, Huw Dann

Ahead of the APO’s In Your Neighbourhood series, we spoke to APO Principal Trumpet Huw Dann about programming, the joys of chamber music and the power of music to make us question.

How did you get into playing the trumpet?

I grew up in Melbourne near Blackburn High School, a public school that had an excellent music programme. When I was 7, my Dad heard their school jazz band and thought it'd be great for my brother and I start learning music straight away, so we had a head start before we got to high school. Not long after hearing the jazz band, he bought two trumpets. My brother, my Dad and I all started playing trumpet together. For the first two years, my brother and I were only taught by Dad, who up to that point hadn't had any lessons himself, but he must have done something right for me to end up being a professional musician today!

You’ve curated a programme for brass ensemble for our upcoming In Your Neighbourhood concerts. How did you decide on the pieces in the programme?

I've always thought the point of music was to make people think or feel something when they experience it. So I've chosen a programme that does just that. We have some of the most beautifully written brass music right through to some really fascinating works, including a piece by APO Young Composer-in-Residence Josiah Carr. All good art should raise more questions than answers, and this repertoire literally does just that with Berio's Sequenza V, which is a tribute to the question "why?"

The music in this concert is for a (much) smaller ensemble compared to the concerts in the Town Hall each week. How is playing chamber music different to playing in an orchestra? Do you have a preference?

I love the sound of a full orchestra, and the repertoire, but as one musician you are only ever a small part in a (wonderful) big machine. Playing chamber music you get to be actively involved in so much more of the decision making which allows for much more creativity.

It's challenging because much more of the performance relies on you. I put even more energy into a chamber music concert. Afterwards I often feel quite exhausted!

As well as programming music written specifically for brass ensemble, you’ve also included your own arrangement of Bruckner’s motet ‘Os Justi’. What motivated you to adapt a piece originally written for singers into a piece for brass ensemble?

‘Os Justi’ is one of my favourite sacred motets and I've always wanted to hear it on brass instruments. As brass players, we are often trying to imitate the human voice and here we get to do just that. It's absolutely beautiful music and I'm looking forward to hearing it myself!

What are you hoping the audience will take away from this concert?

That every piece makes the audience think or feel something. I've put a lot of thought into how we present the works and it will be quite different to anything I've ever seen before.

I'm hoping that everyone will walk away having experienced something quite unique, that they have enjoyed, but have also been perhaps a little challenged by. I hope they all have lots of questions by the end!

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