Air Force Trumpeter Extraordinaire

Placido Domingo and Chris Clark.

Former Newlands College boy and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Reservist Chris Clark was inspired by recordings of great orchestras from an early age. “My parents have a strong interest in music so I grew up listening to famous orchestral pieces. I grew up with those sounds in my ear,” says Chris.

That might explain his blossoming career as a professional trumpet player, most recently performing with Placido Domingo at the Christchurch fundraiser earlier this month to a packed audience of 8,000. “Unbelievable really”, says Chris, who represented the NZSO National Youth Orchestra as Principal Trumpeter.

“The concert was a great success. Seeing the joy on people’s faces after so much distress and turmoil was very humbling. As a musician you spend so much time by yourself, developing your craft, so it’s great to be able to get on stage and share your passion, share your joy and brighten someone else’s day. That’s why I do what I do.

“And that’s why I’m looking forward to the Air Force Proms where we’ll be playing for the community at the Michael Fowler Centre on 6 November. It’s another opportunity to bring the community together, listen to some great music and have a good time.

“When I got to high school I had opportunities to play an instrument and wanted to start playing the saxophone but was told I had to start the clarinet first. I was like “I cannot do that sorry”! My Dad had a bit of trumpet playing experience and I wanted to be like my Dad so I picked up the trumpet and from day one I knew that it was going to be my career.”

Chris skipped the seventh form to start a performance degree on trumpet at Victoria University while practising and performing with the Central Band of the RNZAF as a Reservist.

After that Christchurch called with an opportunity to work with a teacher who had retired from playing in the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, and a year later he was to experience learning from a great trumpet teacher in Vancouver.  “One of the world’s best,” says Chris.

“I worked really hard with him and he suggested I enter the Masters programme which eventually took me to Europe to play with some of the world’s best trumpet players.

“I can’t believe I’ve done what I’ve done by circumstance and by putting myself out there. I could not have been more fortunate.”

Chris’ long term goal is to become the world’s best trumpeter. “At the moment I want to tap the minds of the great teachers of this century. This time next year I plan to be in Denmark studying under one of the great masters. It’s not just about personal practice and developing myself trumpet wise, it’s also about becoming a trumpet teacher learning from one of the world’s best trumpet and brass masters.”

Asked what he does when he’s not playing music Chris says “Dreaming up how to perform the next concert better or thinking about what else I want to do with my music career.” Without question Chris lives and breathes music. “It’s my entire being. I live for it,” he concludes.

You can hear Chris Clark play the trumpet at Air Force Proms - 2.30pm, Sunday 6 November at the Michael Fowler Centre. Tickets $20/$10 from 0800 ticketek.

Air Force Proms is made up of a group of musicians from the Central Band of the RNZAF. The Band currently has 65 members, many of which are full-time professional musicians, who work in Wellington with groups including the Vector Wellington Orchestra and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Many of these musicians teach at schools in the Wellington and Hutt Valley areas. Past and present students of the Massey University and Victoria University music schools, now the NZ School of Music, account for a large number of the Band’s members.

The Band undertakes weekly rehearsals, donning uniform for official occasions such as street parades, Cathedral services and Guards of Honour for the arrival of foreign dignitaries at Parliament and Government House.


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For further information contact David Balham on (04) 496 0296 or 021 487 980

This page was last reviewed on 1 November 2011.