Peter Pirotte: The Trumpeter
By Ruth Augustin '15
Published on Monday, April 11, 2016
At ten years old, Peter Pirotte ‘12 was struck by music. “I caught the classical music bug when I was pretty young. I started on the violin with the Suzuki method. I enjoyed all kinds of music as a kid, but I had a good ear for classical music and did pretty well, placing into all-state bands and orchestras,” Peter said. At the age of 15, he experienced playing an orchestral trumpet for the first time; after that, he was hooked. Wanting to continue to study the 19th and 20th century repertoire, he sought out a player from his local orchestra, the North Carolina Symphony, for lessons. It was then that he was guided toward the path of becoming an orchestral trumpeter.
Prior to attending Lynn University’s Conservatory of Music, Peter Pirotte ()’ received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. While in Michigan, he performed with the Detroit Symphony. Later on he received his master’s degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. During his time there he was fortunate enough to join the acclaimed Fountain City Brass Band. By the time that Peter set foot on our Lynn University campus it was 2010. He auditioned and was accepted into the Professional Performer's Certificate (PPC) program in the fall of 2010.
Coming to Lynn, Peter was excited about the opportunity to work with trumpet professor, Marc Reese. “I knew that I could really benefit from working with him. As a trumpet player, I was excited about the prospect of working with three out of the five members of the renowned brass quintet Empire Brass,” he said. At Lynn, he was given many opportunities to perform in a variety of settings from solo, chamber music and orchestra. Peter mentioned that, “As an older student, I was also fortunate to have the opportunity to step into leadership roles, which really helped me mature as a player.”
After graduation, Peter did a variety of things. He briefly moved to Houston Texas where he taught lessons at a public school and continued freelancing as a musician. “At one point I was teaching 68 students every week. Teaching kids, especially one-on-one, is fun and incredibly rewarding. Kids learn so quickly, and they really listen to everything you say,” said Peter. After spending a year and a half in Houston, Peter came across an ad for an audition in the Navy Band in Washington D.C. It had been almost two years since his last professional audition, but Peter was prepared to put himself out there again. For six weeks he prepared before flying out to D.C. After a long day of auditioning, Peter was offered a position with the US Navy Band. Peter said, “It was really one of the happiest days of my life.”
The Navy Band is separated into two areas: concerts and ceremonies. “During the school year, the concert band performs for students at schools in the greater DC area. During the summer, we play free concerts on the steps of the US Capitol and at the US Navy Memorial. We average 1-2 concerts per week. Also, once a year in February and March, we go on a tour for about four weeks. We cycle through regions of the country - this year was in the Northeast. On tour, we have a concert just about every night. The ceremonial band provides support for events in the DC area. A huge portion of this is performing funerals at Arlington National Cemetery. We also perform for formal arrivals, retirements, parades, wreath laying ceremonies and many other functions. All of the military bands march in the parades for presidential Inaugurations as well as for state funerals,” Peter explained.
While the trumpet is a physically demanding instrument, Peter pours himself into mastering the instrument. “I want to be able to play my lowest notes, my highest notes, my fastest, slowest, loudest, and softest, with an equal amount of ease and beauty. Why? So that I can communicate through my instrument with greater expression.”
Peter’s current job has brought him an assortment of experience. Down the road he hopes to play in a big orchestra or opera company. “I would also love to get back into teaching, but maybe not 68 students at once!” joked Peter. When Peter isn’t working, he’s cooking. “I’m definitely a bit of a foodie. I love to cook, and I love trying new restaurants and finding the hole-in-the-wall joints. I'm a pretty adventurous eater, so I definitely enjoy trying the "weird" things on the menu,” said Peter. For him, music is something that is continuously moving, this is a passion that Peter has truly embraced.