UCLA Trumpets Make History at the National Trumpet Competition

4 min read

The UCLA trumpet studio sent two ensembles to the National Trumpet Competition in Boulder, Colorado. Two of its members, Remy Ohara (second-year undergraduate) and Aric Kline (graduate student) also competed as soloists. It was a big deal. Big enough that both Ohara and Kline made a key decision.

“We flew out a day early,” said Ohara, a second-year undergraduate and trumpet performance major. “Just to acclimate. Boulder’s high altitude affects the breath. If you tighten up your body, your breath is going to be thin, and squeezed, and then your tone is going to sound thin. Especially when you are nervous and performing, which is going to be the case at these contests. So it was really important for me to get there and be in zen mode and breathe comfortably. For me, it meant getting there early and then doing a lot of running. Cardio workouts help me calm down and concentrate.”

Remy Ohara

The running must have paid off. Remy Ohara won first prize for the undergraduate solo competition, making history in the process. She is the first UCLA undergraduate to win the solo competition. The trumpet studio also fielded two ensembles, both of which made the semifinals of the competition. This placed both ensembles within the top six nationally.

“I’m so proud of these students,” said Jens Lindemann, distinguished professor of trumpet performance. “They spent weeks adding 7:00 a.m. rehearsals to their schedule so they could memorize the music. They fundraised to pay for the trip. They were unflappable on the stage.”

Rehearsing for the 2023 National Trumpet Competition

The trumpet studio competed at the National Trumpet Competition in Delaware in 2022, sending one ensemble. The experience was galvanizing for the studio, which had vowed to do better the following year. They organized rehearsals beginning in December to put together their audition tapes. The work paid off as two ensembles were selected and two trumpets (Ohara and Kline) were selected for the solo competition.

The trumpets were accompanied by Alexa Constantine, a staff pianist for the School of Music. Both Ohara and Kline stressed how important it was to have a pianist as talented as Constantine for the competition.

Another advantage the trumpet studio possesses is its cohesiveness and collegiality.

On the road in Boulder at the National Trumpet Competition

“We all show up and support each other,” said Ohara, recounting how the whole studio would show up for each ensemble and solo performer’s competition. “We also got to see UCLA alums and other friends of the studio, and we always make a point of supporting them too.”

For Ohara’s solo competition, the support was critical.

“It was like I had an entourage,” said Ohara. “Emma [Breen] was like my manager, making sure that I was always where I needed to be. I had friends carrying my trumpet case, bringing me water so I wouldn’t be dehydrated. It kept me stress-free, just focused on performing.”

Watch the UCLA Trumpets React to Remy Ohara winning the solo competition

The camaraderie of the studio has been genuinely enhanced by participation in the competition. The trumpet studio draws students from across the School of Music, including the divisions of performance and education in the music department, global jazz studies, and musicology. Led by Lindemann and Dan Rosenboom, lecturer in global jazz studies, the studio prioritizes social activities along with hard work.

“Everybody wants to come to the UCLA hang after the shows,” said Lindemann. “They are legend. But seriously, I’m so proud of how hard these students worked and everything they achieved.”

The UCLA trumpet studio’s legendary “hang” after the show

“Competitions are great, but what really matters is the preparation leading up to it. That’s what truly brought us together as a team,” said Ohara. “That’s why we can accomplish what we did. And the studio has exciting competitions coming up. We’re going to be competing at international competitions starting this summer.”

The UCLA trumpets competing at the National Trumpet Competition in 2023 were: Nick Washburn; McCartney Hutchinson; Christian Cruz; Cyrus Alva; Andrew ‘Smitty’ Smith; Remy Ohara; Sam Kredich; Kenneth ‘GQ’ Brown II; Morgan Michalik; Jackson Bacon; Emma Breen; Colin McClure; Aric Kline; David Marsh; Morgan Bates; Saul Gutierrez.