Annual trumpet festival set for Jan. 16-18 at WCU

Free concerts planned for the seventh annual Western Carolina University Trumpet Festival will feature performers including jazz musician Bobby Shew, recording artist Malcolm McNab and Paul Merkelo, principal trumpet of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.

The festival, which will be held during the Jan. 16-18 Martin Luther King Jr. weekend on the WCU campus, is the largest event of its kind in the United States. Hundreds of trumpeters from more than a dozen states and ranging in age from middle school to adult come to campus to attend clinics, concerts and exhibits, and participants have the opportunity to perform in a large trumpet ensemble with other players of equal abilities. A mass trumpet ensemble expected to encompass 150 musicians on stage at one time will perform during the festival concert set for 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17, in the recital hall of the Coulter Building.

The first featured festival musician will be Shew, a jazz musician who will perform with the Pavel Wlosok Trio, which features WCU music faculty member Wlosok on piano, and the Asheville Jazz Orchestra at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 16, in the Fine and Performing Arts Center. Shew began playing trumpet at age 10 and performing at age 13. He has recorded with the Metropole Orchestra, and his albums include “Playing With Fire,” “Heavyweights” and “Salsa Caliente.”

McNab will give a lecture about the recording industry and a recital with pre-recorded accompaniments at 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17, in the recital hall of the Coulter Building. He is a two-time winner of most valuable player awards from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. He can be heard on music for TV shows, including “Deep Space Nine” and “Highway to Heaven,” and more than 1,500 motion picture soundtracks, including “E.T.” and “Jaws.”

Merkelo will perform a classical trumpet recital at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17, in the recital hall of the Coulter Building. Renowned as one of the finest trumpet players of his generation, he joined the Montreal Symphony Orchestra as principal trumpet in 1995. His solo recordings include “A Simple Song” and “Baroque Transcriptions,” which was nominated for best solo classical CD of the year by a nonprofit music organization in Quebec.

All concerts are open to the public free of charge. The cost to participate in the festival’s weekend trumpet ensemble clinics is $40. The professional/collegiate large trumpet ensemble will be directed by Mark Clodfelter from the University of Kentucky. The high school ensemble will be under the direction of Amy Gilreath from Illinois State University. Middle school students will be directed by Chris McAllister, a WCU student majoring in music education. For more information, contact P. Bradley Ulrich, festival organizer and WCU professor of music, at (828) 227-3274, or go to the Web site