Wednesday, Jul 03 2013 04:56 PM

SUSAN SCAFFIDI: Music student's future sounds bright

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    Handout photograph of Brent Williams

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By SUSAN SCAFFIDI, Contributing columnist

It's gratifying to see how one generation influences the next. The story of CSUB trumpet student Brent Williams is a great example.

I first met Brent at the 2012 Bakersfield Jazz Festival. Brent was that year's recipient of the Mary Osborne Memorial Scholarship, which my family presents each year on the Saturday afternoon of the festival. A standout third-year student, Brent was already principal trumpeter with the Bakersfield Youth Symphony, a featured soloist with the CSUB chamber orchestra, and a promising jazz performer as well. While my family is always pleased with the recipients of the award, that year was particularly gratifying: It turned out that Brent is the son of Don Williams, a former classmate of mine. Brent said his dad was his first inspiration.

"Watching and listening to my father, I quickly advanced and developed a burning passion for the trumpet and everything musical," Brent has stated.

But the personal connection goes even further -- Don Williams was a trumpet student of my father, Ralph Scaffidi.

With that kind of connection, it is nice to be able to note that Brent is continuing to receive substantial recognition for his talents. The 21-year-old student was among 35 trumpet students from around the U.S. and internationally to participate in a trumpet seminar at the Center for Advanced Musical Studies, a two-week intensive program that included master classes, group performances and private study at the historical site known as Chosen Vale, in Enfield, N.H. The center is comprised of internally recognized teachers from the major music schools around the United States.

Williams began his trumpet studies at CSUB with Charles Brady, and currently studies with instructor Sal Panelli (another of my father's former students!). He takes additional lessons with Cal Arts trumpet professor Edward Carroll, who is on the Chosen Vale faculty. Carroll picked Williams for this year's seminar.

"(The trumpet teachers) basically selected the students they think are fit for this seminar," Williams said.

That placed him with performers from the major graduate schools and conservatories.

"I'm very young comparatively," Williams said.

Williams said he was able to hold his own with his fellow students.

"I'd put myself in the middle," Williams said of his skill level. "We're all at different levels; there are some here who are really world-class players."

Among the faculty Williams got to study with was Thomas Stevens, who was principal trumpeter for the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta and also sat the principal chair for Sir Georg Solti. Williams said he chose to work with Stevens out of all the trumpet faculty at the seminar, because there was yet another legacy connection.

"Thomas was originally from Taft," Williams said. "He grew up with Charles (Brady) and they were roommates together when they were at USC."

"Tom Stevens and I just really clicked because he knew Bakersfield really well and he was interested in me because I was a Brady student," Williams said.

Williams said in addition to the intensive study, he also made friends with 34 other trumpet players from around the country. From here, Williams said he plans to graduate from CSUB next spring, and is currently looking for a graduate school to complete his studies -- preferably on the West Coast.

"I'm looking at UCLA, Cal State Long Beach and Cal Arts right now," Williams said.

Williams said he wants to earn a master's degree in music performance, then earn a specialty doctorate so he can teach at the university level.

"Maybe as a musicologist -- that's a big ambition of mine," Williams said.

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