Professor of Music Thomas Erdmann had an article published in the professional trumpet journal. This is his 290th peer-reviewed published article.
Professor Thomas Erdmann in the Department of Music had an article published in the June 2022 issue of The International Trumpet Guild Journal.
The article, “Sarah Wilson: Taking The Road Less Traveled,” is about the forward-thinking jazz trumpeter, composer and vocalist, who comes from a non-traditional background.
For a small minority the route is circuitous and individualistic, involving experiences not usually associated with the drive to musical mastery. It was on one of these personal and unique paths Wilson, whom the San Francisco Chronicle calls “one of the most intriguing and promising composers and trumpeters on the contemporary music scene,” traveled to find success.
Raised in Healdsburg, CA, Wilson freely admits she was not totally dedicated to the trumpet as a youth. Majoring in anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley, the lapsed trumpeter contemplated a master’s or Ph.D. in the field. It was, however, her collegiate interest in theater that led to a chance encounter with a visiting artist from The Bread and Puppet Theater in Vermont. Upon graduation, Wilson moved east and spent two years touring in the ensemble’s productions. This was a hectic time as Wilson was touring in the spring and falls with Bread and Puppet but spent the winter of 1991-92 in New York City (NYC) and the winter of 1992-93 in San Francisco and Oakland. After two years of almost constant travel she moved to NYC for the next 12 years.
While there she took a day job at the American Museum of Natural History and, on a recommendation from trumpeter Dave Douglas, studied trumpet with John McNeil as well as began practicing in earnest. McNeil suggested further trumpet lessons with Laurie Frink. During this time, Wilson gravitated toward the music performed at The Knitting Factory by the group of forward-thinking jazz musicians collectively referred to as the Downtown new music scene.
Wilson’s theater and puppet background proved fortuitous when she was commissioned to write music for the Boston Puppeteer’s Cooperative, all former Bread and Puppet colleagues, for their puppet show at Lincoln Center for the Arts. This started a six-year stint writing and performing at the Out of Doors Festival at Lincoln Center. Working more and more as a musician Wilson dropped her job to part-time in order to focus on music. Among the gigs she was picking up included scoring a film for the American Museum of Natural History’s Body Art exhibit, playing trumpet and singing with the Great Small Works performance collective and other groups like Circus Amok. Even though she was offered a scholarship and entrance into New York University’s Master’s program in composition, it was classical music study with Schoenberg Scholar Paul Caputo which eventually earned her a bachelor’s in music from Empire State College.
After 12 years, Wilson moved back to the Bay Area and quickly formed a community with California musicians aided by word-of-mouth from the community of California musicians she had played with while in New York. Working steadily on the West Coast, Europe, and with gigs back in New York until the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Wilson is again starting to book performances as a leader, such as at the 2021 virtual Festival of New Trumpet Music, as well as taking selected side musician positions. Her path may be unconventional, but her musicianship is beyond dispute.