Betsy Bright is currently Acting 2nd trumpet in the Tucson Symphony. She was appointed to this position in 2007 after having served as the orchestra’s 3rd trumpet player for four seasons. A native of Columbia, South Carolina, Betsy was a student of Robert Nagel. She attended college at the Shenandoah Conservatory outside of Washington, DC where she studied trumpet with Adel Sanchez and composition with Thomas Albert. She graduated summa cum laude in 2003 with a BM in performance and a minor in composition, earning the Wilkins Conservatory Award. Before moving to Tucson, Betsy performed often with the National Symphony Orchestra and held summer positions with the American Wind Symphony Orchestra and Bay View Music Festival faculty brass quintet. In Arizona, she is a frequent sub with the Phoenix Symphony and maintains a private trumpet studio. Betsy is an OMA artist at Lineweaver Elementary School and she teaches an adjunct music course at the University of Arizona.
When did you start playing the trumpet? I started playing in 6th grade.
Why did you choose your instrument? The band director went around the room having people try instruments. I raised my hand to try each one, but he didn't see me. So when he got to the last instrument (trumpet), he said, "Who hasn't tried one yet?" I raised my hand and he said, "Looks like you're playing trumpet." It turns out I really did like it and since he was a trumpet player, it gave me inspiration right from the start.
What makes your instrument special? The trumpet can be loud and powerful or soft and lyrical. It has such a wide range of expression.
Are you from a musical family? Not really. My mom played piano a bit growing up and sang in her college choir.
Do you play any other instruments? A bit of piano.
What advice would you give to a student learning to play the trumpet? Be patient and practice every day. Playing trumpet is like being a dancer because you have to be an athlete and an artist all at once. Practicing intelligently will make the athletic side strong. Listening often to great musicians will inspire the artistic side. It's a lot of fun and, the better you get, the more fun it becomes!
When did you know you wanted to be a musician? Around 9th grade or so. My teacher at the time was a college trumpet major - a great player. Hearing him play and talk about going into music was really inspiring. The more I listened to great recordings and the more I realized how much fun it was to practice and improve, the more I wanted to go into music as a career.
What's the best part about being a musician? Getting to play with other musicians! It's great to get to play awesome music with musicians who inspire me to play better.
If you could play a different instrument, what would it be? Cello
What would your career be if you hadn't chosen music? Engineer or teacher.
Guilty musical secret: I love musical theater! I guess that's not really guilty, though, depending upon who's asking.
Funny Musical Experience: Playing a concert on the American Wind Symphony tour when the mayflies hatched. It was an outdoor show on the Mississippi River in Iowa. There were so many mayflies we couldn't see the conductor. On second thought, maybe this is my most horrifying musical experience...
Most exciting musical moment: Playing Rite of Spring with the TSO. I had a fever of 103, but what a great piece!
Hobbies: Hiking and cycling, chess, reading, drinking tea and coffee.
Favorite composers: Mahler, Berio, Prokofiev, Strauss, Brahms, Stravinsky, Adams, Bach, Debussy...so many I could never name them all.
Interesting personal fact: I was a pretty serious fencer when I was a kid.
What are your three favorite movies? Anchorman, Forrest Gump, Dreams (Kurosawa)
What good book have you read most recently? Superfreakonomics.
Favorite Tucson restaurant: Lovin' Spoonfulls
Three favorite possessions: Trumpet, computer, Vita-mix
Hometown: Irmo, South Carolina (a suburb of Columbia)