AYPO engages highly talented artistic staff with incredibly interesting backgrounds. Learn more about our winds coach, Trevor Mowry.
1. What is your primary instrument and when did you start playing?
I started playing the oboe in the 4th grade, when I was 9 years old. I had started taking piano lessons when I was 5.
2. What is your favorite piece of music to play/conduct?
I don’t think I could possibly narrow the list down to less than 50 pieces or so! I will say that the upcoming performance I’m most looking forward to is my solo debut with the fantastic young artists of the American Youth Symphony Orchestra. We will be performing Mozart’s Oboe Concerto together in May.
3. What drew you to AYPO?
Once I started my professional career, I knew that I wanted to find a way to assist those looking to follow the same path. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that AYPO was the place to be for talented young musicians in the DC area who were serious about their art form. I was invited to lead a wind sectional as a tryout to be AYP’s Winds Coach, and ever since I have been grateful to have the opportunity to be a resource for the benefit of aspiring artists. I’m extremely proud that (through no fault of my own) in the few years I’ve been working with AYPO we have had outstanding wind players gain acceptance to the Eastman School of Music, the Juilliard School, Oberlin Conservatory, Cleveland Institute of Music, Cincinnati Conservatory, the University of Michigan, Carnegie Mellon University, and more. I believe that playing music at an advanced level is highly beneficial to any student, regardless of their career path. That is why I’m equally proud of AYPO wind players who have gone on to pursue academic studies at Brown University, Dartmouth College, University of Virginia, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Wooster College, just to name a few.
4. What professional jobs do you have outside of AYPO?
Primarily, I am Co-Principal Oboe with “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band. I also maintain a private teaching studio, and I freelance all around the Washington, DC area. I’ve had the honor of appearing as a guest musician with the National Symphony, Richmond Symphony, Houston Grand Opera, Fairfax Symphony, and many other wonderful individuals and ensembles.
5. Did you play in a youth orchestra when you were young and if so, can you please share a bit about that experience?
When I was in high school I spent 3 seasons as a member of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, and I also participated in their chamber music program and Encore Chamber Orchestra. Outside of my private lessons, my playing experiences in CYSO were perhaps the most crucial in furthering my aspirations for professional music-making. The opportunity to play chamber music and orchestral masterpieces with hugely talented peers was such a joy that Sunday afternoon rehearsals were the highlight of my week. It’s hard to accurately convey what performing Dvorak’s New World Symphony or Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration at Chicago’s Symphony Center means to an aspiring musician. It’s also difficult to put into words how meaningful it can be for a young person to find a group of peers who share such a strong passion for music. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the friendships and experiences forged in that ensemble are an enormous part of why I have a career in music, and I feel extremely privileged to help AYPO provide these gifts to the young artists of today.
6. Who are your musical mentors?
My greatest musical mentor without a doubt is Richard Killmer, renowned professor of oboe at the Eastman School of Music, where I received my Bachelor’s Degree. I have never met someone so joyfully fulfilled by what they do, and I don’t believe I ever will. His wisdom and artistry guide and inspire me on a daily basis. I’m also deeply indebted to my high school teacher, Deb Stevenson, for successfully helping me grow during my formative high school years. Robert Atherholt, my teacher during my one year of graduate studies at Rice University, enabled me to win my current position by deftly smoothing out the rough patches in my playing without undoing any of the progress I’d made during my undergraduate years. There must be a thousand people who are all directly responsible for the life I now enjoy, from my 4th grade band director to my outstanding colleagues in the President’s Own. I couldn’t do my job if it wasn’t for the knowledge and encouragement imparted by each and every one of them.
7. What is some of the best advice you have received in your career?
My Dad has always given me the best career advice. When I first started on my path to professional music making, I had many of the doubts and insecurities that plague those attempting to make a living in the arts. He was the one to tell me, “Excellence will always be in demand.” If you are the best at what you do, there will be always someone willing to pay you to do it. He also helped me see the traits that add up to success, regardless of profession-talent, passion, diligence, and opportunity. Then, when I went off to college, he gave me this nugget of wisdom, which sustained me all the way to my current post with the President’s Own: “Work harder than everyone... except the crazy people.” Looking back, the enormous boon of this advice is two-fold. Firstly, that hard work is its own reward, and your best bet if there’s something huge you want to achieve. Second, that it is possible to work too much, and that being a well rounded person is crucial to a successful and fulfilling life.
8. What are some of your hobbies/activities outside of music?
I love a good book, or getting sucked in by a great TV show (Homeland and Game of Thrones are recent obsessions, but The Office is probably my all-time favorite). My wife, Laura, and I enjoy going on walks, trying new restaurants, and spoiling our Goldendoodle puppy, Bear.