wcfsymphony Principal Trumpet Randy Grabowski

Randy Grabowski

UNI Professor of Trumpet and all-around trumpet hero Randy Grabowksi has been Principal Trumpet of wcfsymphony since 1986 and during that time he has delivered many of the symphonic repertoire’s heaviest trumpet solos – including this recent Mahler 5 – with aplomb. Below Randy reflects on his life as a professional brass player and teacher:

“My father, who had been a big band trumpeter in Illinois back in the day, started me on the cornet when I was pretty young. I was strongly encouraged to practice and get a good education in order to avoid working in a factory, as had happened to him.

“A typical work week for me consists of a morning warm-up then a day of teaching private trumpet lessons at UNI. I may also teach a class and attend committee meetings followed by more practicing in the late afternoon. Most evenings are spent playing a concert or rehearsal, practicing, or attending a concert.

“There is a fair amount of preparation involved as principal trumpet to be comfortable at the first rehearsal. In addition to practice, I listen to recordings, communicate with the section in advance, and make decisions on the type of trumpet and mute to use.

“The more I’m involved in the business of music, the more I realize the importance of camaraderie and collegiality in the art of making music. With wcfsymphony, I can be involved in creating music with people I know and trust, and with whom I enjoy working on a regular basis. I feel like I can make a difference here – not all organizations make you feel like you matter.

“As a teacher, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the job is getting to know the students and watching them grow. As a professional performer, it’s the constant variety of music that I play – solo recital, orchestral or chamber music, big band jazz, a show with a celebrity artist – that keeps it all fresh.

“As a professional musician in the 21st century the biggest challenge may be convincing people to attend live music events. In this day of digital media it’s so important for people to put away their electronic devices and spend some quality time listening to music with other humans. And as a professional I most value being able to create music with my own sense of sound, musicianship and passion, and being able to throw it out there for any one to listen to.

“One of my most memorable performance experiences was playing in a school that included children who were deaf. Many of these kids came up close so that they could sense the music, while others actually placed their hands on the bell in order to feel the vibrations. The look of pleasure on their faces and the feeling that I really made a difference in their lives that day was something one doesn’t easily forget.

“Outside of my professional life I have an amazing wife, Karen, with whom I enjoy doing just about everything. I like to cook, read, hike, and I love the mountains!”

We know Randy doesn’t get much mountain time here in Iowa so we always cut him loose in the summer to find some altitude in other spots around country!