IUP trumpet professor making appearance at Sunday concert

HOLLIDAYSBURG – Musician Kevin Eisensmith was first introduced to the trumpet at home.

“My parents were not musicians, but they loved music, and one of their favorite performers was Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass.

“When my dad was working around the house, he would almost always put on some sort of a record, and many times that would be Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. The sound of the trumpet was in my ears very early in my life and in fourth grade, when I had a chance to choose an instrument, I chose the trumpet,” he said.

The Indiana University of Pennsylvania trumpet professor, who also plays with the Altoona Symphony Orchestra, is the guest artist in Sunday’s Hollidaysburg Community Band summer concert.

He will play the trumpet and the

fugelhorn during the show at Canal Basin Park.

“I’m very excited about it,'” the Indiana, Pa., resident said of Sunday’s concert. “I know many of the members of the band. I’ve worked with them in various settings, but never having played with the (band). I’m looking forward to this performance, and I think it will be a lot of fun for everyone.”

Band director Doug Stephens said grant money from the Pennsylvania Rural Arts Alliance and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts provides funding to bring in guest artists.

“We try to have a little bit of variety and, over the course of the eight years, we’ve hit most of the different instruments as far as soloists,” Stephens said, noting Eisensmith is now the second trumpet player to perform as a guest with the band.

“I’ve worked with Kevin in different venues over the years. He’s a great musician, great educator, great just all-around person. And I try to bring in people who I know the band is going to benefit from and that will enjoy working with them. I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for the audience as well, because he’s a very accomplished performer,” Stephens said.

Indeed, Eisensmith’s bio includes his numerous accomplishments including his education – 1978 bachelor’s degree in music education from IUP; 1982 master’s degree in music performance from Georgia State University and 1994 doctorate of musical arts in performance from Temple University. He studied with former Atlanta Symphony principal trumpeter John Head and former Philadelphia Orchestra second trumpeter Seymour Rosenfeld.

From 1979 through 1984, Eisensmith was the solo trumpeter with the U.S. Army Forces Command Band in Atlanta, Georgia.

“That band at that time did touring, so I had the chance to perform in 26 different states and the Virgin Islands while I was a member. … Those performances were everything from parades with a military marching band to ceremonies to concert band concerts to brass quintet concerts to big band concerts, so there were a wide variety of ensembles within that organization. I’m very fortunate that I was able to participate in many of those different types of groups,” he said.

“It was always varied, always interesting, always different and challenging,” he said, adding he was in a total of about 700 performances.

Eisensmith also worked with many famous people, including Carol Channing, Richard Harris, Barbara Eden, Bob Hope, Natalie Cole and LeAnn Rimes.

“Contractors in a local area look for musicians to back artists when they come in town, and Atlanta was a very busy place for those types of performances,” he said, adding he also worked for contractors when he lived in Philadelphia, Kentucky and in other areas of Pennsylvania.

“The idea is when you move to town you let a contractor know that you exist, and if they meet you and they like you and they like your playing, then they will hire you for these touring acts. I’ve been very, very fortunate over the years to have a chance to do a lot of different things with a lot of different artists,” he said.

At Sunday’s concert, Eisensmith will perform “two different solo pieces, one of which is a little bit more what people would call sort of legit or classically oriented, featuring him on the trumpet, and then the second piece is more laid back, it’s in a Latin flavor, and he’s going to play the fugelhorn, which is a little more mellow sounding version of the trumpet essentially,” Stephens said.

“There’s a good bit of variety there, and with those two pieces, along with the rest of the program, we usually try to find something that everybody will like at least a little bit.”

He added an encore piece is planned that will feature Kevin and several members of the Community Band’s trumpet section.

“It should be a nice way to wrap things up,” he said.

Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030. Follow her on Twitter (@AmandaGabeletto) or on Facebook (Amanda Gabeletto Altoona Mirror).