Richmond-based trumpeter Rex Richardson to perform with the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra – Daily Press

When critically acclaimed musician Rex Richardson comes to town next week, it will be something of a reunion.

Richardson, who is set to perform with the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra for their Masterworks “Glory & Grandeur” concert on Thursday, is a Virginia-based trumpeter and has been called “one of the finest virtuosos of our time” by The Brass Herald in 2018. .

After last playing with the Williamsburg Orchestra several years ago, Richardson said he looked forward to performing with a great group of musicians and reuniting with his old friend Michael Butterman, musical director of the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra, which he first met at Louisiana State University. .

“The funny thing is, I was a really old graduate,” Richardson said. “…When I was 29, I decided I had to get a degree in music…and Michael was a teacher there. I think Michael is actually younger than me by at least a year, but he was my conducting teacher, and he can tell you what a student of conducting I was.

Despite Richardson’s self-proclaimed lack of talent on the conductor’s podium, he and Butterman got along very well. Over the years, they’ve enjoyed a handful of collaborations, though it’s been around 20 years since they last saw each other.

“Rex is an extraordinary musician who is both one of the world’s best-known jazz musicians and a much-admired orchestral soloist,” Butterman said in a statement. “We are fortunate to be able to shine the spotlight on this Virginia-based artist at our next concert.”

When Butterman offered to play with the orchestra this season, Richardson, who has been based in Richmond since 2002 when he joined Virginia Commonwealth University as a professor, jumped at the chance.

“We were trying to figure out what to play, and finally I was like, ‘Man, I don’t care, let’s play whatever you want to play because it’s gonna be awesome,'” he said.

On Thursday, the orchestra will perform Alexander Arutunian’s Trumpet Concerto with Richardson as well as pieces by Richard Wagner and Tchaikovsky.

“The music on our October schedule is indeed full of grandeur,” Butterman said. “Confident, assertive and daring, it demonstrates the incredible power and expressive range of a symphony orchestra. Tchaikovsky’s beautiful symphony, inspired by Ukrainian folk music, takes on a new and deeper meaning in the context of recent world events.

Although it’s been several years now, Richardson still remembers how “warm and enthusiastic” the crowd was the last time he played in Williamsburg. At the next show, he looks forward to another kind and grateful audience, especially since many people are “just starting to come out and see music again,” he said.

As a child, Richardson “lived everywhere” due to his father’s job in the Coast Guard, he said. Richardson was a teenager when his father retired and they settled in Northern Virginia, where he attended Fairfax High School. A constant across many movements was the trumpet, which he started playing when he was 10 years old.

“My main activities as a child were basically as a chorus boy,” he said. “But I was a kid with asthma and a doctor told my parents I should start a wind instrument to help my lungs. My best mate at the time played the trumpet so I thought I’d try the trumpet It was about that mundane beginning.

By the time his family settled permanently in Virginia, Richardson was “really passionate” about the trumpet, which was helped by his proximity to top service bands in and around Washington.

“I was lucky to be in Northern Virginia in the shadow of these bands like the Navy Band (of the United States), the President’s Own Marine Band, the Pershing’s Own Army Band,” he said. declared. “All of these players were on the scene as freelancers and teachers, so it was a really great place to grow as a trumpeter.”

Even before taking up the trumpet, Richardson was a huge music lover, listening to Beethoven and Neil Diamond.

“It’s always been pretty much about the music,” he said.

Like many, Richardson was left somewhat adrift when COVID-19 hit. Before the pandemic, he spent four to six months of the year traveling for shows. His craziest year was in 2018, when he made 13 trips abroad in 12 months. All of that will, will, will come to an abrupt halt in 2020, when live performances were halted indefinitely at the height of the pandemic.

As a musician struggling to find something to do, Richardson has fallen back on something he – but not many others – like to do: practice.

“I’m interested in the science of practice,” he says. “So the practice room kind of became the sanctuary and the concert hall, but it still wasn’t the same thing. There’s nothing like sharing music with other musicians or with the public.

Richardson performed his last pre-COVID concert on March 5, 2020, then did not play a live concert again until the following January when he performed locally in Richmond. In the summer of 2021, he traveled to play a festival in Texas, and performances started picking up from there.

“Music is ultimately about people,” he said. “…Ultimately, the job of the musician is to share beautiful music with people and it behooves us to understand the privilege we have to do so.”

Rex Richardson is the featured guest artist at the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra’s Masterpieces Concert No. 2, “Glory & Grandeur,” Thursday at the Williamsburg Community Chapel at 3899 John Tyler Highway in James County City. Tickets are available at

A pre-concert talk will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by the concert at 7:30 p.m.

Sian Wilkerson, [email protected], 757-342-6616

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