Profile: Lucy Humphris, trumpeter

Who have been the main influencers on your decision to pursue a career in music?

I never really felt like I made a decision about pursuing music as a career – it was just a given in my mind, from the moment I started playing.

However, I remember one of the moments which cemented the idea of “yes, I want to do this” was hearing Wynton Marsalis playing The Carnival of Venice, because I was blown away by the last variation, convinced one trumpet couldn’t play all those notes at once!

So, yes, definitely Wynton has been a major influence and I still regard him as one of my heroes. My teacher, Paul Mayes, was also incredibly important in seeing me through some tough times and I firmly believe I wouldn’t be the player I am today without him.

What have been the greatest challenges of your musical career so far?

Definitely my time at the RAM – the first two years in particular. Also two projects I did at the Southbank Centre – one was a performance of Stockhausen’s Donnerstag aus Licht with RAM and the London Sinfonietta, the other was a one-woman show for the Imagine Festival. Also a recital I gave the day or day after a flight back from America – the jet lag was awful!

What for you are the particular pleasures and challenges of collaborating with other musicians?

I love collaborating with other musicians, whether that be composers or performers – it’s such a rewarding experience, especially when all the other musicians are engaged and invested in the music/project – that’s when some brilliant discussions can be had and for me that can be fascinating.

Also, long-term collaborations are wonderful for cementing musical partnerships and understanding, as well as friendships. I suppose the challenges only come when there’s miscommunication or lack of direction within a collaboration.

Which works/performances are you most proud of?

I’d say my 2018 performance at the ITG (International Trumpet Guild) conference – that was a challenge in itself with the travelling beforehand, but I was very happy with that recital. Also, again, the Imagine Festival performances. There are probably others which I’m sure I’ll remember….

Are there any composers with whom you feel a particular affinity?

Yes, definitely – Sibelius, Prokoviev, Mozart, Janacek…. They each have their own unique voices and there’s a lightness and space to their music, as well as wit, which really resonates with me. Sibelius in particular.

Which works do you think you perform best?

I’m not sure – I obviously feel the works I perform best are the ones I enjoy the most. I love performing pieces which are slightly out of the normal repertoire, so I play a lot of contemporary music, which I like to bring into the spotlight.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

As a listener – performance of the entirety of Prokofiev’s Cinderella score at the Proms, with Gergiev and the LSO. Goosebumps. It’s such a wonderful experience to stand and play in the RAH at the Proms. And Cinderella is a lesser-known gem.

My most memorable concert experience as a performer…I don’t forget any of them, and they’re all special to me, so I don’t know really!

What advice would you give to those who are considering a career in music?

Be true to yourself. Once you find your identity as a musician, and the aspects of music and musicianship which are important to you, stick to that – even if people say you’re wrong. It’s all too easy to try to fit in, but what makes musicians special is if they have something interesting to say that’s very much their voice.

How would you define success as a musician?

Being able to communicate with as many people as possible, and bring music to as many people as possible.

What do you enjoy doing most?

Aside from playing music – going for walks in the countryside, writing, reading…

What is your present state of mind?

I am concerned about the current state of the world, and worried about the future of the arts.

But I am also hopeful that this crisis has made us revisit what classical repertoire we put on and how we deliver it. We cannot expect to derive so much income from well-known works being played to packed houses. We may see an increase in contemporary works played by smaller groups in exciting and unusual venues, which will increase the appeal and accessibility of classical music.

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Lucy Humphris is one of the UK’s most innovative and versatile young performers. Her fresh and original approach seeks to widen the instrument’s repertoire and push beyond both musical and technical boundaries.

Watch Lucy performing on YouTube:

Ostria (2018) is an unaccompanied piece for trumpet, by Greek/Serbian composer Filippos Raskovic. 

Lucy’s transcription (for piccolo trumpet) of J.S Bach’s Flute Sonata in G minor, Movement 1.

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