Jon Kaplan, Second Trumpet
Are you a native Charlottean?
Not at all! I was born in Miami, Florida where I lived until I was 12 years old. I then moved all the way across the country to Eagle River, Alaska, and finished high school there. My parents still live in Alaska and I visit them every chance I get.
What was your musical upbringing like?
I remember liking my music classes in elementary school, but the program was limited and I never learned to play recorder or piano there. My parents, who wanted me to get involved in a hobby besides video games, sent me to a University of Miami summer music camp where I learned to play trumpet just before I started 6th grade. Right after the camp ended my parents set up weekly private lessons for me, and by the time I started 6th grade, I was totally hooked.
What drew you to your instrument?
Honestly, they asked me what instrument I'd like to learn, and the trumpet was one of only a few I could name off the top of my head. Funny how things work out.
What are the challenges and opportunities unique to your instrument?
Playing the trumpet is a blessing and a curse, really. You get to enjoy the personal satisfaction (and risk) of always being heard. The trumpet is also an excellent tool to develop your leadership abilities.
Could you describe your job within the Symphony?
My job as second trumpet is really to be the ultimate backup and reinforcement for the Principal Trumpet, but also to help blend the sound of the trumpet section in with the horns and the low brass. I get to spend most of my time as a team player, with the occasional second trumpet solo (such as in the fifth movement of Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra) or chord resolution. I also serve as a brass coach for the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra, as well as serving as a member of the Charlotte Symphony's stage crew to help put on our many performances alongside Stage Manager John Jarrell and my hard-working colleague Andrew Fierova who also functions as our Assistant Principal Horn.
Can you describe what you’re thinking and feeling right before a concert starts?
Usually I'm fidgeting with the height of my stand and making sure all my music is in order, but once that's done I like to scan the audience for familiar faces and unusual outfits. I'm also usually wondering if I remembered to go to the restroom though...
What’s the most memorable thing that’s happened on stage?
When I was a student at Brevard Music Center, I was performing a pops concert with the Brevard Music Center Orchestra when a very large moth flew (and got stuck) right under the strings on the neck of the concertmaster's violin just before he had to play an important, exposed solo. Luckily I was counting rests, so I got to watch him deftly pluck the moth out and still be ready in time to play. I feel like I learned something really important about professionalism that day...
What music do you enjoy listening to, classical and otherwise?
I still listen to a lot of the rock and alternative music my parents had playing the car when I was a kid - Boston, David Bowie, Queen, Meat Loaf, the Barenaked Ladies, and of course The Beatles. More recently my wife introduced me to Jason Mraz and Bruno Mars... but really I'm an open-minded listener and enjoy scanning local radio stations aimlessly to find stations with genres I'm not super familiar with. Shoutouts to Snarky Puppy, James Markey's Tenor and Bass Trombone albums Offroad and On Base.
What music would you choose to program for a classics concert?
I know it's a big ask, but some day I would love to perform Mahler's 8th Symphony - it requires literally hundreds of orchestra musicians and choir members, including a children's choir and a double size brass section (and plenty of reinforcements for the strings).
What are some of your non-musical interests or hobbies?
I like to go disc golfing, build and modify computers, and maybe solve the occasional twisty puzzle or Rubik's cube. I am also an avid coffee drinker, and own numerous brewing methods.
What’s your favorite spot in Charlotte?
So far, my favorite spot is the Reedy Creek Nature Center, which is only a short drive from my house in East Charlotte. Not only do they have an 18 hole disc golf course there, but they have many beautiful walking trails to wander on my afternoons off. A close second is probably Amelie's French Bakery in NoDa.