Miles Thomsen, MB
Miles Thomsen, MB
01. How old were you when you started playing your instrument?/ Quel âge aviez-vous quand vous avez commencé à jouer votre instrument ?
12; I started playing in junior high band (grade 7).
02. Why did you choose your instrument?/ Pourquoi avez-vous choisi cet instrument ?
I was exposed to a lot of trumpet from an early age, as my dad was a trumpeter trying to finish his music education degree and played in a local ska band outside of school. In junior high, my band teacher spent a great deal of time with each individual student, testing to see which instruments fit which person the best. My first choice was trumpet, although I was quite open to the other eleven on my list - including trombone, bass clarinet, and tenor sax. In the end, trumpet just seemed the most natural choice. I still like to try my hand at trombone every so often, and I have even "performed" Christmas carols on tuba a couple times over the years...
03. Describe some of your professional goals./Décrivez quelques-unes de vos ambitions professionnelles.
Until working with the students and faculty at NYOC last summer, I was quite certain I would never settle for an orchestra job. While I really enjoy all genres of playing and wish to embody the versatility that the trumpet is capable of, I only recently came to understand that taking an orchestra job isn't a life sentence to a single avenue of performance. With this in mind, I am a lot more open to that possibility, however I still have a lot of dreams (both musical and otherwise) that I wish to pursue in the next decade or so. Currently my ideal "endgame" would be teaching at a university level, whether as a sessional instructor employed in an orchestra or as a tenured professor freelancing on the side. Come fall 2016 I'll actually be taking on cruise ship contracts, so first we'll see where that takes me (literally)!
04. What are your other interests and/or hobbies?/ Quels sont vos autres intérêts ou passe-temps?
I grew up playing computer games every day after school for hours on end, and almost every weekend I'd play board games with my family. For many years I considered myself a pretty serious gamer, but since high school I've cut back significantly. While I still have a strong attachment to video games (and video game music!) I generally refrain from getting too into anything nowadays - except maybe a nostalgic binge on an old favourite. On the other hand, my love for board games has continued, and I have recently taken it upon myself to GM a Pathfinder RPG (essentially Dungeons & Dragons) campaign of my own design. I love spending time with compassionate people and enjoy bringing together new and old friends for games, food (but don't ask me to cook), and spiritual gatherings.
05. Do you write/arrange your own music?/ Êtes-vous compositeur ou arrangeur de votre propre musique ?
Yes! I've been experimenting for many years and have a few originals/arrangements under my belt.
06. Who is your favourite classical musician?/ Quel est votre artiste (musicien) préféré ?
Alison Balsom, hands down, takes the cake in terms of trumpeters.
07. What is your favourite piece of music?/ Quel est votre morceau préféré ?
If I can understand it, I usually love it. So, most things. Rachmaninoff was a big one last year.
08. What is your favourite concerto for your instrument?/ Quel est votre concerto préféré pour votre instrument?
The Haydn concerto is a brilliant staple - but the Arutunian concerto is just too much fun!
09. For returning members: What is your fondest memory from a previous session and/or tour?/ Pour participants vétérans : Quels sont vos souvenirs préférés de la session ou tournée précédente de l’ONJC ?
I have a lot of positive memories from last year's Canadian tour, and especially the five weeks we spent in Waterloo. Our brass "sexquintet" (six people in our quintet) was like a miniature family and we were attached at the hip for most of our days, whether it was eating lunch, playing squash, or cuddling up and watching Brassed Off in the lounge. The camaraderie levels were off the charts!
10. What made you decide to pursue classical music?/ Pourquoi avez-vous choisi une formation en musique classique ?
Performing brings me out of my shell. Jazz band in grade 9 was the first time I really felt the magic of working closely with a smaller group of equally excited peers on a regular basis. This, coupled with the social explosion of high school, gave me confidence in the importance of expressing myself honestly and earnestly. I think as performers we have to be honest, or at least convincing, which makes us vulnerable. This vulnerability allows our audiences to empathize and to share in the feelings we are expressing - an unquestionably vital aspect of any art form, which I also believe is a vital aspect of building relationships with people. While classical music is just one aspect of my performance goals, the process of collaborating with and opening up to people in these vital and fundamental ways is the most rewarding (and fun) thing I have experienced in my life.
11. What do you think is the biggest challenge you face in your pursuit of a career in music?/ Quel est le plus grand obstacle à surmonter afin de poursuivre une carrière en musique ?
The job hunt is always rubbed in our faces as one of the most intimidating and difficult aspects of pursuing a professional music career. At risk of sounding arrogant, I am not worried. As someone who strives to do anything and everything with my instrument, the phrase: "jack of all trades, master of none," comes to mind. Supposedly there is a part two to that phrase: "though oftentimes better than master of one." I like this, because it reaffirms my faith in taking advantage of as many opportunities to learn and perform as possible, and creating opportunities of my own when external opportunities are fewer or out of reach. So then the challenge, career-wise, becomes more about maintaining and progressing in all areas of my playing. On top of that, creating independent performance opportunities involves a lot of effort in terms of collaboration, communication, marketing, preparation, etc... but so far my independent experiences have been wonderful and worthwhile endeavours!
12. Why did you choose to apply to NYO Canada?/ Pourquoi avez-vous choisi de poser votre candidature pour NYO Canada?
I had a blast last year and decided I needed to step up my game even further!
13. How do you feel you will benefit from participation in NYO Canada?/ Comment bénéficierez-vous de votre participation dans le programme de NYO Canada?
I'm really looking forward to returning to the program more confident and prepared, so as to make the most of my time with both students and faculty. I feel like I did not invest enough of my time in connecting with the people who were there to help me as a musician, and similarly I feel like I isolated myself a little bit in terms of the social aspect. In a way I see this summer partly as a "second chance" to network and learn more from the professionals who so generously give their time to this program. I have also never been overseas, and so I am very excited for the international tour this summer!
14. Were you accepted to any other summer music programs this year?/ Avez-vous été accepté/e à tout autre programme musical estival cette année?
Nope, I did not apply for anything else.
15. If you weren’t touring with the NYO Canada, what would you be doing during the summer?/ Si vous n’étiez pas en tournée avec NYO Canada, que feriez-vous cet été?
I would have applied for the National Academy Orchestra, the VSO Institute at Whistler, and perhaps a few other programs. Outside of those I would try to find a few weeks of work at the International Music Camp (my "happy place") and otherwise spend time with friends and family at home, participating in and organizing community activities for youth and other friends when possible.
16. What was the proudest moment of your music career thus far?/ Jusqu’ici, quel est le moment de votre carrière musicale qui vous a apporté le plus de fierté?
Most prominently is the South Side Big band, which I founded with several of my peers in my first year at the University of Manitoba. Long story short, we didn't have a jazz band to play in, so we made our own. And after five years, we've drawn on some truly incredible talent and included musicians from all walks of life, whether or not music is the focus of their career. We'll be celebrating the end of our fifth "season" together just days before I leave for NYO Canada, and it is extremely validating as a leader and performer to know that with enough perseverance, even bringing as many as 20 people together on a weekly basis can be an avenue for musical fulfillment. I'm also happy with what Wind Chill Brass, my brass quintet, has accomplished in our three years together - we recently wrapped up our "Manitoba tour" which involved two concerts in Brandon and Winnipeg, an all-day school gig (concert, lessons, etc), and a LOT of busking. The commitment level that we achieved as a group was really amazing and we had a lot of fun together - but sadly many of us are now going our separate ways!