Frosh Trumpeter Earns Carnegie Hall Gig

Lexie Reinecke, Staff Writer

Freshman trumpeter Kevin Deng performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

The February 22 performance featured 500 exceptionally talented high school musicians.

Deng explained, “Next week I’m going to Carnegie Hall in New York to perform with honors students from around the world, so it’s going to be very exciting. I’ve only been to the outside of it, but this time I’m actually going to be performing inside, on the stage.”

According to a press release about the event, “Acceptance to the elite group is a direct result of the talent, dedication, and achievements demonstrated in his application and audition recording. [It is] a special performance at Carnegie Hall, a venue that marks the pinnacle of musical achievement.”

Deng has been studying music since first grade, and began playing the trumpet in elementary school. He explained, “At first I wanted to play the saxophone, but then I got trumpet because there was a need to balance the music program. I started on trumpet, I really liked it, and I worked my way up to Carnegie Hall.”

Deng is part of both the Campolindo Concert and Jazz Band, the Diablo Wind Symphony and the Contra Costa County Honor Band. According to the press release, Deng won a $750 scholarship to Cazadero Music Camp for Outstanding Soloist at the Campana Jazz Festival and has been selected for the California All-State Junior High School Concert Band.

About 20% who apply to the Carnegie Performance are asked to perform, as only 500 out of the 10,000 applicants are accepted. Deng explained, “I’m very excited. I mean, it’s an international sort of thing where you audition to get in and I’m excited because I auditioned in the summer of eighth grade and managed to get into this high school honor band.”

Program finalists practiced for five days before the showcase. Deng said, “You go there, you play a couple of days with the conductor, and you perform. It’s a short term band consisting of honor students from around the world.”

The young musicians worked under conductor Jeffrey Grogan, the current conductor of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

While program director Morgan Smith stressed that “the Honors Performance Series is something each Finalist should be extremely proud of accomplishing,” Deng said it won’t affect his academic career. “I don’t really see this benefiting me in terms of college because it’s not an elite training program. It’s just a showcase or exhibition,” he said.

Deng explained, “I think that I’ll continue to do music as a hobby. Also, in my later years of high school I could potentially apply for more things like this. [I like] playing the trumpet because it’s very challenging. Unlike other instruments where you can just press a button or pluck a string and you get the note, with one fingering there’s many different notes you play. It takes a lot of skill with lip shape so you can hit those notes exactly how you wanted to.”

Deng said his musical influences include both jazz and classical players. “I look up to a trumpet player in my Diablo Wind Symphony, who’s the first chair and he’s really good, just a natural at trumpet. I look up to him, and, in terms of more famous people. I look up to Wynton Marsalis and Miles Davis in terms of jazz. For classical I really enjoy listening to Maurice Andre.”

“There’s a lot of people who have great tone and that’s what I really enjoy about music, people who have great tone. In terms of jazz, people who have good improv ideas. Those are the people I look up to,” he added.

Deng said, “I still have four more years of high school and I’m starting off strong, so it’s going to be great in terms of music.”

Deng’s February performance was open to the general public. Tickets were bought through the Carnegie Hall box office.