Philip Smith, who has led the New York Philharmonic's trumpet section for 35 years, announced on Tuesday that he will retire in June 2014 to become a professor at the University of Georgia's School of Music.
Smith, 61, was named co-principal trumpet of the Philharmonic in 1978 and became its principal trumpet in 1988. His bright, assertive yet lyrical tone has been heard in everything from Mahler and Shostakovich symphonies to pieces like Gershwin's An American in Paris. The Philharmonic reports that he has appeared as a soloist in 37 works and in 219 concerts, premiering concertos by Joseph Turrin (1989), Jacques Hetu (US premiere, 1992) and Lowell Liebermann (2000), among others, and playing standard works like the Haydn Trumpet Concerto (see below).
The son of Derek Smith, a cornet soloist, Smith was born in England and moved to Long Island at age seven. While a student at Juilliard in 1975 he joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, then a famed brass powerhouse under conductor Georg Solti. But after three years, Philharmonic music director Zubin Mehta hired him away. He has remained in New York since, serving on the faculties at Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music. He has also appeared with various brass groups including Salvation Army Bands.
Known for his sometimes outspoken religious beliefs, Smith cited his faith in a statement on Tuesday. "My simple goal over these many years has been to give my best, using the gifts given to me by God, for the beauty of the universal language of music," he said. "I am excited by this opportunity to be involved in the lives of young musicians, sharing all that I have experienced."
Smith's retirement comes just as Glenn Dicterow is to step down in June from the concertmaster position of the Philharmonic.
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