Jens Lindemann said as a trumpet soloist, he’s almost an oxymoron.
“It’s the idea that we really don’t exist,” he said. “There is a lot of repertoire for strings and voice. Not a lot for trumpet. We’re the people in the back of an orchestra or in the marching band. My entire mission as a soloist is to eradicate the stereotype. I really try to make my repertoire very diverse.”
Lindemann, born in Germany and reared in Canada, where he is a citizen, teaches trumpet at UCLA.
As a teacher, he says “it’s important to me to pass on what I know to future generations.”
Saturday, with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, he’ll play Franz Joseph Haydn’s “Trumpet Concerto in E-Flat Major” and Allen Vizzutti’s “The Rising Sun.”
“The choice of Haydn is that this piece is the grandaddy of them all,” Lindemann said. “It’s considered to be his best. Every trumpet player in the world has to learn the Haydn concerto. And what a great piece it is. It really works.”
As for the second piece, written by a contemporary composer, Lindemann calls it spectacular.
“I play three different trumpets — piccolo trumpet, flugelhorn and the B-flat or regular trumpet — in this one piece.”
Lindemann continued: “The audience can see the different horns being played. It makes sure the audience is very, very engaged.”
“The Rising Sun” has Japanese motifs, and while a new piece, is very accessible, Lindemann said.
“The first movement is about Mount Fuji, followed by the temples of Kyoto and then the Shinkansen (bullet train),” Lindemann said. “It is always very, very well-received.”
As a child, Lindemann wanted to be a drummer. When he joined the school band at age 12, he was forced to either play trumpet or clarinet because at his school, only the best musicians could play drums. His audition to play the drums didn’t go well.
“I was dead last out of 25,” Lindemann said. “So I was stuck with the trumpet. I ended up with a long history of playing not only classical trumpet, but jazz and pop as well.”
Lindemann said it’s always good to approach playing any instrument with a classical background.
Since he quickly learned the trumpet and became very good at it, some may think he was a prodigy.
“No, I was considered stubborn,” he said as he laughed. “If I have any gifts, they are stubbornness and having immigrant parents. If you are an immigrant, you appreciate work ethics. We grew up knowing there are no free lunches in life and we are not owed anything. So if we (Lindemann and his siblings) were working hard, they (their parents) would lay off of us. My parents wanted me to be a lawyer, but the trumpet still grabbed me.”
So he went to the Juilliard School in New York City.
Lindemann committed to being a trumpet soloist when he was 17.
He competed in 40 solo competitions in eight years.
“I can assure you I lost almost all of them,” he said. “When you lose, you learn something. After eight years of doing that, I really wanted to figure out how to excel.”
What he learned was to find his own voice.
So instead of trying to please the judges, he started to take “great joy in sharing the piece ... to celebrate all of the work.”
That’s when Lindemann’s solo career began to take off. Now, he’s considered to be one of the top performers of his generation.