Hugo Moreno reminds this band geek why she loves music

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Every spring, the Marquette University Wind Ensemble features a professional guest musician to perform at one of their concerts. This year, the Wind Ensemble welcomed world renowned trumpet player and multi-instrumentalist Hugo Moreno.

Each year, Director of Music Erik Janners and the guest soloist select a piece to prepare almost a year in advance. “When Speaks the Signal-Trumpet Tone,” a three-movement piece for solo trumpet and band written by David R. Gillingham, was the selection for the Feb. 20 concert.

The Wind Ensemble members and the soloist practice their parts of the piece separately until the week before the concert. At that time, the soloist travels to Marquette to attend rehearsals and put the parts together.

Additionally, the soloist offers free, private half-hour lessons as well as one group lesson for any interested band members.

As a trumpet player, I’ve been jittery with excitement for Moreno’s arrival since it was announced last spring.

I felt nervous warming up my trumpet for my lesson with him on Friday; I had a feeling intimidation would leave me unable to play a single note. To my surprise, he turned out to be one of the most laid-back and conversational musicians I’ve had the pleasure of talking to.

After he taught me a few warm-up and tone exercises, we started talking about the importance of playing melodically. He got really excited talking about it, so he pulled out his iPod and started scrolling through, looking for songs with the best melody. “Oh man, you just gotta hear this one. It’s so bad, so bad.” It took me a few times listening to him say that to realize “bad” in fact meant “really good.”

Moreno made our concert infinitely more impressive than it would’ve been without him, especially since “When Speaks” exceptionally displayed his range as a professional musician. For the first movement, he played a standard trumpet, a flugelhorn for the second and piccolo trumpet (I’ve decided one of those is going on my Christmas list this year) for the third. Just accompanying him for the one piece made us sound better.

Talking and playing with Moreno helped me reevaluate all the reasons why I’ve kept band in my life since the fifth grade and how I couldn’t picture my life without music in it.

I’m proud to say I’m a band geek. Playing isn’t just an outlet. It’s a means of self-expression and of making and sharing something beautiful. I idolize Moreno for his relaxed, yet obvious passion, and love that it’s something we share for music.

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