UI Trumpet Studio to present unique holiday performance, ‘Inside Out’

Trumpet Studio members will play holiday music — learned by ear without sheet music — with an open seating arrangement for performers and audience members in the Voxman Opera Studio.


Abigail McDaniel

The Voxman Music Building is seen on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020.

Cassandra Parsons, Arts Reporter

The University of Iowa Trumpet Studio will perform its annual holiday concert this Friday, experimenting with the performances in a unique way.

Trumpet Studio members learned each holiday song by ear, without sheet music provided. The performers can play their pieces anywhere within the Opera Studio at Voxman Music Building. The performers can play their music sitting in an audience chair, lying on the floor, or standing behind a curtain — wherever the music brings them, said Trumpet Studio Director Amy Schendel.

Audience members are also encouraged to sit or stand wherever they are comfortable in the Opera Studio. There will be no designated space for audience members or performers for the concert, Schendel said.

“The goal of this performance structure is to break out of the traditional format of concertizing and experiment with a completely free way of playing and listening to a concert,” Schendel said.

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Last year, the Trumpet Studio was unable to perform the holiday concert because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Auditions for the studio were completed online this year, according to Trumpet Studio member Sara Lyons, a first-year trumpet performance major and concert band member in the School of Music.

Lyons said that the Trumpet Studio has a fun, community atmosphere.

“It’s a good balance between what we need to do, like what we’re expected to do, and how everyone supports each other,” she said.

Lyons said the concert challenges the ideas of performance anxiety.

“It’s about controlling your environment,” she said. “If you can control the environment in which you’re performing, maybe it will be less anxiety-inducing.”

Lyons will play a duet for the concert, but has not yet decided between playing, “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” or “All I Want for Christmas is You.”

Joanna Leston, a first-year music education and trumpet performance major, said that the upcoming performance has brought on some new challenges to her melodic dictation skills. In melodic dictation, music is learned by listening to a fragment of music and transcribing the melody into written music.

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Leston will play “Feliz Navidad” as a duet with another member of the Trumpet Studio.

“I’m now looking on YouTube for recordings and listening to way more complicated recordings online is really testing my ability, but I think I’m holding my ground pretty well so far,” Leston said.

Leston said she’s glad they are given some creative freedom and are collectively challenging the traditional structure of performance for the upcoming concert.

“I find music to be a really good way to connect with others on a different level, and I really like performing with others. And the studio is a really great group of people, and so I feel really lucky that I get to share that really, like human experience with others,” Leston said.