Today’s guest is Jason Bergman, a trumpet professor at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) School of Music in Hattiesburg. Later this month he is releasing his first CD, On the Horizon: New Music for Trumpet and Piano.
I know Jason from church and I have heard him play his trumpet. He is also a member of the Mobile Symphony. An accomplished musician who has a passion for everything that he does. I was not surprised when I found out he had a CD coming out. So I asked if he would be willing to talk with me here on The Write Time. Of course he graciously agreed.
So, welcome Jason as we sit and visit with our virtual mike and wing back chairs.
What inspired you to do this project?
I have always wanted to record a CD. In my field, creating a recording is kin to publishing a book, publishing in a major journal, or having your artwork appear in a major gallery. This particular project came from a desire to record new, 21st century works for trumpet and piano. Each of the composers are living and friends of mine. Four of the 6 compositions on the recording were recorded for the very first time. It’s a daunting task, but was very fulfilling and a great learning experience for me.
What were some of the major challenges to produce this CD?
Funding is the biggest challenge. Thankfully I was able to secure funding from some grants through The University of Southern Mississippi where I work. Preparing the music to the level you need it to be for a recording that will last forever is a big challenge. The logistical, behind-the-scenes aspects of the recording process were a challenge to navigate. These include obtaining mechanical licenses to record and sell the recordings, contracts with the label, etc. Luckily we signed with MRS Music, which is a great independent label. Rob LaPorta was fantastic, patient, generous, and kind through the entire process.
Did you write any of the music for On the Horizon: New Music for Trumpet and Piano?
No. I’m not sure anyone would want to hear anything I have composed. However, Antônio Guerreiro’s Three Pieces for Trumpet and Piano were written for me, and I was part of the consortium that commissioned Erik Morales’ new Concerto for Two Trumpets.
To me it is interesting that the piano and trumpet are paired up for your music, how did you come up with this combination?
Trumpet and Piano - or any instrument and piano - is a standard instrumentation for a lot of classical music. Some music is composed for a solo instrument and orchestra, for example, but many times in recital that music is performed with a piano reduction. It’s practical, less expensive, and very portable.
I need to mention my collaborators on the recording. Ellen Elder is a colleague and friend. She is a piano faculty member at The University of Southern Mississippi where I teach. She is a fantastic artist and a valued friend. I’m so grateful she was willing to record with me on this project. We have performed dozens of times throughout the United States.
I was also fortunate to record with William Campbell on two pieces. He is my trumpet teacher from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He is a world famous artist and a very valued mentor and friend. We recorded two duets on this album. To have these recordings preserved is very important to me. It’s not every day a student is able to record or perform with their teacher. I feel blessed he was willing to participate and to help be an executive producer in the booth. He has a highly trained ear and can easily hear my mistakes and potential. This wouldn’t have been possible without his contributions as well.
Is there an underlying theme to your CD?
The music is all 21st century new music for trumpet and piano. Sometimes people are scared by a “new” music, but this music is all accessible and nice to listen to.
What was the process used to select the music used?
When I decided on a recording of new music for the trumpet, I began to look at what my favorite new pieces were. Each one has it’s own story, but these are all pieces that I feel in love with. While two of them were in the process of being recorded by other artists, four of the works had yet to be. It was important to me to have some world premiere recordings on the album. I wanted to include music that is becoming a part of the standard repertoire for the instrument. This would allow other students and professionals an opportunity to hear what the music sounds like, but also helps to make the recording relevant.
How did you go about finding a label?
I did a lot of research and investigated what the various labels required. I spoke with many friends and colleagues who have already produced recordings. I didn’t want to release it independently because I simply don’t have that type of time to market and release it! MSR was excited about the project from the beginning. Rob LaPorta, who owns MSR, has so kind and patient in the process. His experience made the whole process easy, fluid, and successful. I’m very happy with the label and am honored to be an MSR artist.
You are married and a father to four children, you play in the Mobile, AL symphony, a Professor of Music, and a Bishop in your church. How do you balance your time?
Very carefully. Sometimes I am more successful than other times. It takes a lot of communication with my wife. She is so supportive and honest. She helps me know when I’m in too deep, or when I can possibly give more. I have to just do the best I can and realize I can’t do it all. Understanding the right order of priorities is important to me also. For me, my family is first. I take time every day to be sure I’m being a husband and father. In that time, I don’t answer my phone for church, I don’t do work, I try my best to keep my electronic devices (cell phone and iPad) off. That keeps me grounded. Even though I can’t do it all, I will do my best and pray others understand.
Are there more projects in the future for the three of you? (I almost asked if there were more projects on the horizon.)
Yes. When determining the title of the project, Mr. LaPorta and I decided on “On The Horizon” because we hoped there would be more there! I am already working on plans for another project which I hope to have out in a few years. It might not include all three of us, but I do plan to do more. Outside of recording, I do a lot of performing, teaching, and touring.
Where can we find more information about your CD?
You can find more at my website: www.jasonbergman.com, and at the MSR Classics website: www.msrcd.com
So you have a website? Yes, jasonbergman.com is a place to find info about me, the recording, my performing calendar, recordings of live performances, and a newer blog where I discuss various trumpet topics.
You have a kickoff event planned, would you share that with us?
Yes, on Friday, November 15 at 7:00 PM, we will be hosting a CD release party at The Pastry Garden at Gordon Creek (129 Walnut Drive, Hattiesburg, MS). It’s free, open to the public, and should be a lot of fun! You can find more at Facebook.com/OnTheHorizonCD
Thank you so much for agreeing to the interview. Good luck with all your endeavors.