Musician Spotlight: A Q&A with Paul Trapkus, concertmaster

How long have you been with the symphony?

This is my first year.

How did you come to study your instrument (and is it the first one you chose?)

I started playing violin in 4th grade through my school’s orchestra program in Iowa. I tried saxophone briefly in 5th grade but didn’t enjoy it as much. I started taking violin lessons in 5th grade, and then I got much more serious about it in high school. In high school, I decided I wanted to focus on both performing and teaching. I majored in violin performance and music education at the University of Michigan before moving out here.

What drew you to this instrument?

I think I just liked the idea of playing any instrument. Orchestra is offered before band in Iowa, so I was first interested in string instruments. My brother had just started cello, and I wanted to do something different, so I chose violin. In middle school, I played in a youth orchestra and started collecting tons of CDs of classical music, and that inspired me to practice more.

What other instruments would you like to learn, or other that you play already?

I really like the sound of double reeds, especially bassoon, and I almost considered playing bassoon in 5th grade. I had to learn the basics of every band/orchestra instrument as a music education major, but I only really know how to play violin, viola, and some guitar. I tried playing euphonium in the Campus Band in college just for fun, but I could never get any of the high notes.

What piece would you LOVE to perform/for the symphony to perform?

I would love to play Carmina Burana at some point because I’ve never played it, and I think it’s a good collaborative piece that isn’t overly challenging, but I know the orchestra played it not too long ago, before I joined. I’m also a fan of the Tchaikovsky and Suk Serenades for Strings and anything by Prokofiev, Mahler, Strauss, or John Adams.

What music do you enjoy when you’re not rehearsing?

I like classical music. Otherwise I would hate everything I do! But I also listen to a lot of electronic music and ’80s synth-pop.

Is there an LSO performance from this year that stands out to you? Why?

Our first concert of the year stands out to me because it was my first one with the group. There’s always something exciting about a first concert, and I felt like the Mahler Symphony especially had a lot of good energy. I have enjoyed our other concerts since then, too. I enjoy the museum concerts because it’s a different, more exposed kind of playing in a smaller group and in a smaller venue.

Who is someone who has been instrumental (haha) and influential in your music career?

I made a lot of progress on violin as I was studying with Doris Preucil in high school. She’s one of the people who helped popularize the Suzuki method in the U.S., and she really helped me raise my musical standards for myself. I have also gained a lot just from watching many other performers and conductors over the years. My brother has also been an inspiration, especially for getting started on an instrument. He now plays bass in the New York Philharmonic!

What is your favorite movie?

I like weird movies that make you think, like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and other Charlie Kaufman movies. I also like the movie I made, Carry the Tune! It explores why and how to continue making music after high school, and it highlights different kinds of avocational music-making along the Front Range and beyond.

Favorite food?

Indian food, sushi, and everything else, except eggplant.

Favorite place/thing about Longmont?

My favorite thing in Longmont, by far, is my students! I am lucky to get to work with such a hard-working, caring, creative, and energetic group of orchestra students at Silver Creek High School. Saying goodbye to them when they graduate is always extremely hard, but I like that I also get to meet new students every year.

What do you love to do outside of the orchestra?

Music takes up a lot of my time, but I also love to cook, run, ski, and do nerdy things like play chess and read journal articles.

Of any historical musical figure, who would you go back and meet?

Beethoven! He’s not my favorite composer, but he was so influential and revolutionary. It would be fascinating to learn things about music and his approach to composition directly from him.

Do you have other music projects, or would you like to?

I’m busy with three orchestra classes, a chamber music class, and a fiddle group at Silver Creek High School. I also play in the Boulder Philharmonic, occasionally teach violin lessons, and write music when I have time. It might be cool to join some kind of crazy electronic/synth-pop band some day.

 

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