Neal Berntsen – Trumpet Interview
Welcome to the show notes for Episode #103 of The Other Side of the Bell – A Trumpet Podcast. This episode features 2nd trumpet of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Neal Berntsen.
Listen to or download the episode below:
About Neal Berntsen
Neal Berntsen joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra trumpet section in March 1997, having been appointed at the invitation of Music Director Lorin Maazel in 1996. He is a native of Tacoma, Washington. He began his musical studies at age five playing the violin under the tutelage of his mother. By age eight he advanced to the trumpet and ultimately received a B.M. from the University of Puget Sound and a M.M. from Northwestern University. A former member of the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra and the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, Neal has also performed as Principal trumpet for the Ravinia Festival Orchestra, Chicago Chamber Orchestra, Cincinatti Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony Orchestra and the Bamberg Sinfoniker in Germany. Other orchestral performances have included the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra and Houston Symphony Orchestra.
Active as a chamber musician, Neal is a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Brass whose recordings, “BACH: THE ART OF FUGUE” (1998), “A CHRISTMAS CONCERT” (2000), “THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS” (2003) and “A SONG OF CHRISTMAS” (2008) were described as “…Awhirl with color and rhythmic vitality – quite irresistible on every count.” by the Pittsburgh Post- Gazette. The recordings contain numerous arrangements by Neal Berntsen. Mr. Berntsen is also a founding member of the award-winning Asbury Brass Quintet, about which Fanfare magazine stated, “Not only expert but musical…undeniable virtuosity.” The ABQ’s recording with Adolph Herseth is widely regarded as an all time classic. Mr. Berntsen has toured Japan with members of the Chicago Symphony brass section as the Chicago Brass Soloists.
In 2017 Mr. Berntsen gave the Pittsburgh premier of James MacMillan’s concerto for trumpet, Seraph performing with the Resonance Works Orchestra with the composer in attendance. In the summer of 2015 Mr. Berntsen premiered and recorded THE ANCIENT CALL for micro-tonal trumpet and orchestra written by Iranian-American composer Reza Vali under the baton of Keith Lockhart. Mr. Berntsen performed the piece on a specially modified trumpet, which enabled him to execute the Persian quarter tone scale. In 2018 his recording of THE ANCIENT CALL was named album of the year in Iran by Noise Magazine. Mr. Berntsen’s solo recording TRUMPET VOICES was released in Nov. 2005. Critics describe the recording as, “Electric… An indispensable recording for anyone who appreciates great trumpet playing.”
As an educator, Mr. Berntsen is Chair of the Brass Division in the School of Music at Carnegie Mellon University. Mr. Berntsen also serves on the Faculty of Roosevelt University in Chicago. Mr. Berntsen has presented master classes and recitals around the world.
In summer 2009, Neal Berntsen began an association with the Brevard Music Center in Brevard, North Carolina. Mr. Berntsen serves as Principal Trumpet for the Brevard Music Center Orchestra, performs chamber music, teaches trumpet and coaches chamber music at the festival.