Thomas Burge, Second Trombone
What was your musical upbringing like?
I came from a completely non-musical family, and was the first in my immediate family to get a college degree, let alone in the arts. I was largely self taught until the age of 18 then I got into college and found out I was talented but I was doing it all incorrectly. I had worked out ways to play and perform, but needed now to relearn everything about the technique of my instrument. Ten years later, and I graduated from Juilliard with a post graduate degree. Kind of a Cinderella story, really... if you replace the fairy god-mother with hours of laborious work, thought and practice.
What drew you to your instrument?
That's easy. It was the loudest instrument, and the most visually awe inspiring to me. I figured I would be able to irritate more people on this instrument over any other. Then they told me it is REALLY HARD...challenge accepted...
What are the challenges and opportunities unique to your instrument?
It is the brass instrument that most emulates the human voice. Even moreso than the beautiful French Horn because of our ability to freely slide between pitches. It can be difficult to play in tune, but where challenge exists, so does opportunity. As it is, because of the slide it is very possible to play it beautifully in tune. You just have to be very good.
Do you teach?
Yes. I am low brass instructor at Wingate University, CPCC, and Pfeiffer College in Misenheimer. I also have a private studio of middle and high school trombonists from Mecklenburg, Union and Iredell county that regularly make up positions in the Youth Orchestras of Charlotte, various all district, and NC All State bands. I have had graduates go on to get accepted to UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Charlotte, Arizona State University, Cleveland Institute of Music, Indiana University, University of Michigan and many more. I'm quite proud of all their achievements.
How were you inspired to be a professional musician?
In tenth grade I went to a music camp, and my future was clear from the moment I got home.
Outside of your work with the Charlotte Symphony, where else do you perform?
I have performed all around the United States, Chile, Japan, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Great Britain, Austria, Holland, Luxembourg and Australia
Could you describe your job within the Symphony?
Second Trombone. I also play "utility", performing on Bass Trumpet and Euphonium (Tenor Tuba) when required.
What music do you enjoy listening to, classical and otherwise?
Classical- I particularly like listening to vocal and choral music.
What was been the highlight of your career with the Charlotte Symphony?
Too many moments to choose. Maybe holding Yo Yo Ma's cello while he tied his shoelace.
What music would you choose to program for a classics concert?
Mahler, Bruckner, Wagner, Shostakovich, Nielsen, - the really big repertoire that is not performed so frequently
If you weren’t a classical musician, what would you be doing?
I don't really know. I'd probably figure something out. Maybe I'd create in a different spectrum and work with flavours as a chef.
What are some of your non-musical interests or hobbies?
Running, surfing, reading, math.
How do you give back to our community?
Through music mainly.