Renowned trumpeter Caleb Hudson is set to take center stage at the upcoming spring concert hosted by Musical Masterworks. The event is scheduled for Feb. 3 and 4 at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, featuring Hudson as the distinguished guest artist.
Originally hailing from Kentucky, Hudson has played a pivotal role in reintroducing the trumpet to contemporary audiences. His approach to the trumpet, marked by a vocal-tone warmth and fluidity, has earned him recognition on global stages. Notable performances include appearances on NPR’s “Performances Today” series and a feature on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” at Carnegie Hall. Hudson was a key member of the Canadian Brass ensemble for a decade, known for their distinctive suits-and-sneakers ensemble.
Currently residing in Austin and serving as a faculty member at the University of Texas, Hudson has recently completed his inaugural solo album, aptly titled “Nothing Less.” The album, described by Hudson as “years in the making,” will be celebrated during the Musical Masterworks concert, providing Connecticut audiences with a live preview ahead of its official release in two months.
Artistic Director Tessa Lark and other accomplished musicians will join Hudson for this special project, showcasing a collaborative celebration of “Nothing Less.” In a recent conversation, Hudson reflected on his early musical influences and the power of collaborative efforts.
In Conversation with Caleb Hudson
Clare Byrne: How did music become a part of your life?
Caleb Hudson: My earliest memories of music are rooted in my church. Growing up in a household where my mom served as the church pianist and vocalist, I was immersed in the world of traditional hymns. My first experiences as a trumpeter were in a church setting, playing alongside my mom on the piano. This instilled in me a deep respect for performance as a means of connecting with something beyond oneself.
CB: What drew you to playing the trumpet?
CH: Coming from a musically inclined family, it was a tradition to pick up an instrument in fifth grade. My choice was influenced by a fellow student, Matt Dillinger, whose smooth rendition of Leroy Anderson’s “The Trumpeter’s Lullaby” captured my attention. It was the unique colors of the trumpet, rather than its bombastic side, that resonated with me.
CB: What purpose do you find in music?
CH: Music, to me, holds a profound truth. Engaging in chamber music is a transformative experience, fostering not only musical growth but also social development. Joining a chamber music ensemble teaches respect, communication, problem-solving, and negotiation. Music’s inclusive nature allows everyone, regardless of musical training, to connect with it on a personal level.
CB: How did composing become part of your musical journey?
CH: While I don’t consider myself a composer, my journey into composing began through arranging and transcribing. During my time in the Canadian Brass, I was tasked with writing about the White Rose resistance movement in Germany during World War II. This experience led me to appreciate the creative aspects of arranging and eventually venture into composing.
CB: Tell us about your new album, “Nothing Less.”
CH: After a decade with the Canadian Brass, I decided to embark on a new musical journey with my first solo album, “Nothing Less.” The album emphasizes collaboration and features non-traditional instrumentation. The Connecticut concert will bring together most of the talented musicians who contributed to the recording, including Emi Ferguson, Gabriel Campos Zamora, Michael Nicolas, and Tessa Lark.
The composition, also titled “Nothing Less,” draws inspiration from the Old Testament story of Elijah, exploring the tendency to forsake truth for self-exultation. Hudson deliberately chose an instrumentation that allows the trumpet to seamlessly blend in and stand out, avoiding the typical showcase of virtuosity seen in solo classical music.
Hudson hopes that the music, even for those unfamiliar with the narrative, will resonate on a deep level, addressing universal themes inherent in the human condition. Despite the prevailing postmodern perspective that emphasizes individual interpretation, Hudson sees value in appreciating the artist’s intent as a significant layer of meaning.