David Bilger - Behind the Scenes
David Bilger Principal Trumpet
Each month in the Orchestra’s Playbill, we feature one musician in a question-and-answer segment. Below is that feature in its entirety.
Where were you born? Waukesha, Wisconsin.
What piece of music could you play over and over again? Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.
What is your most treasured possession? My wedding ring.
What’s your favorite Philadelphia restaurant? Favorite that I frequent: Parc; favorite I have ever been to: Morimoto.
Tell us about your instrument. My trumpet was custom built for me by S.E. Shires Musical Instrument Company. We worked together on it for over a year and went through eight prototype designs before coming up with the trumpet that I now play.
What’s in your instrument case? My trumpet case is my carry-all, especially when I travel. I have my trumpets, mutes, valve oil, etc., but also my computer, iPhone charger, headphones, datebook, pencils, magazines, etc.
If you could ask one composer one question what would it be? I would want to thank Mahler for writing such amazing trumpet parts, and ask him what made him decide to use the trumpet’s lyrical side, which so many other composers neglect.
What piece of music never fails to move you? The Mozart Requiem.
Do you play any other instruments? I started on the piano, and can still play it poorly.
What’s your favorite type of food? Japanese.
When did you join the Orchestra? 1995.
What books are on your nightstand? Hard copy or e-reader? My most recent read is David Brooks’s The Social Animal. Hard copy—don’t own an e-reader. I’m old-school.
Do you speak any other languages? I can speak four words in a whole bunch of languages.
Do you follow any blogs? I regularly read my wife’s blog, because I want to, not because I HAVE to.
Do you have any hobbies? I love to play tennis, do woodworking, and cook.
Do you have a favorite movie? I have a few favorite movies, not just one. I actually am drawn to a few genres of movies—mainstream (and a little sappy) movies like Shawshank Redemption, Forest Gump, and City of Angels; sci-fi movies like Blade Runner and The Matrix trilogy; and just plain dark movies, like V for Vendetta, American Beauty, and Platoon.
Is there a piece of music that isn’t in the standard orchestral repertoire that should be? I’d first start looking at English music. So little of it is in the standard repertoire and much of it is very high quality. I love Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Dona nobis pacem and wish it was shared more often with audiences. I have yet to play it in Philly! I hope the POA artistic department reads this.
What’s the last recording you purchased? Peter Gabriel’s Scratch My Back.
What’s on your iPod? I have an eclectic mix of genres on my iPod. There is everything from bluegrass to country, rock to pop, jazz, and of course some classical. I listen to my iPod mostly on planes, so lighter fare is usually better for that!
When was the first time you heard The Philadelphia Orchestra? The first time I heard The Philadelphia Orchestra was when I was a youngster. I had the Orchestra’s recording of Respighi tone poems. Gilbert Johnson (former principal trumpet) was one of my favorite players! I first heard the Orchestra live when I was a student at the University of Illinois. The Orchestra was on tour, and it was a concert that many Orchestra members from that era still recall because Maestro Muti didn’t conduct the last chord of Brahms’s Second Symphony. The Orchestra was so tuned in to what the Maestro was doing that not a single musician played the last chord! Even with the abrupt ending, it was still a stellar performance!
Other than Verizon Hall, where is your favorite place to perform? The Musikverein in Vienna.
Photo by Joanne Bening