Vincent DiMartino and John Foster Sound the Trumpets

In November 2016, Vincent DiMartino and John Foster performed a five-concert tour of their Sound the Trumpets program, through which they explored the history of the trumpet and its repertoire through performances of music played on the intended instruments.

Vincent DiMartino, Distinguished Matton Professor Emeritus of Music, Centre College, and, previously, award-winning Professor of Trumpet at the University of Kentucky; and John Foster, International Trumpet Soloist, Artistic Director of the Australian Baroque Brass and Director of the Australasian Trumpet Academy, collaborated to create a program that featured at least twenty different instruments from the conch shell to the modern trumpet. They took their program to audiences of university students, faculty, professional musicians, interested lay listeners, and school-age children.

John Foster began this presentation with a demonstration of instruments found in or crafted from nature, including the conch shell, cow horn, headhunter’s horn, shofar, and didgeridoo.  He performed the memorial Trumpeter of Krakow fanfare and demonstrated the cornetto. He also performed baroque trumpet, playing works by Girolamo Fantini and Gottfried Reiché and demonstrated the keyed trumpet through a performance of the second movement of the Haydn trumpet concerto.

Vince DiMartino performed a cavatina from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro on the English slide trumpet (original instrument by John Harris c.18th Century).  He offered performances on a number of nineteenth and earlier twentieth-century instruments including the side action rotary valve cornet, cornet é piston, 'Shaw' disc-valve cornopean, echo cornet, and King mini-trumpet. Of special note was the DiMartino’s performance on echo cornet of 1879 John Philip Sousa piece La Reine D’Amour for cornet and piano, a work recently discovered by DiMartino and colleague George C. Foreman.

The second half of the program commenced with a broadcast of an original recording of cornet soloist Jules Levy from the 1890's. Foster then provided some Australian content with At Dawn by Percy Code, performed on an original Jules Levy Model Cornet made by Courtois ca.1870. The rest of the program included shared performances of Koenig’s Post Horn Galop (1844), Arban’s Carnival of Venice, and Mendez’ La Virgen de la Macarena. Closing out the program on a jazzy note, DiMartino performed Louis Armstrong’s Struttin’ with Some Barbecue on a Selmer “Balanced” trumpet, and Foster offered Cootie Williams’ solo from Ellington’s Echoes of Harlem.

Large-screen projections of the displayed instruments helped audiences better view and appreciate the design of the many instruments. Recordings, like that of the 1939 BBC broadcast recording of British bandsman James Tappern’s playing the two trumpets discovered in King Tutankhamun’s tomb, enhanced the audiences’ experience.


Source: Richard Domek, Professor Emeritus, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky


Photo Credit: Andrew King (Hillsdale College, Mi)


Some highlights from Sound the Trumpets can be found online at



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