[ Artist Spotlight ]

Allan Dean

Allan Dean is Professor in the Practice of Trumpet at the Yale School of Music and performs with Summit Brass, St. Louis Brass and the Yale Brass Trio. In the early music field he was a founding member of Calliope: A Renaissance Band and the New York Cornet and Sackbut Ensemble. Dean was a member of the New York Brass Quintet for 18 years and freelanced in the New York City concert and recording field for over 20 years.

Dean performs and teaches each summer at the Mendez Brass Institute and the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. He is a frequent soloist with Keith Brion’s New Sousa Band and has appeared at the Spoleto and Casals festivals, Musiki Blekinge (Sweden) and the Curitiba Music Festival (Brazil) among others. He can be heard playing both modern trumpet and early brass on over 80 recordings on most major labels including RCA, Columbia, Nonesuch and others. On early instruments he has recorded with Calliope, the Waverly Consort, and the Smithsonian Chamber Players.

Dean served on the faculties of Indiana University buyessaysweb.com, the Manhattan School of Music, The Hartt School and the Eastman School. He lives in the Berkshire Mountains with his wife, Julie Shapiro, an artist, and his daughter, Eloisa. He is an avid tennis player and practices hatha yoga daily.

When you are away touring, do you bring anything special with you to remind you of home?

Pictures of my wife and daughter.

When you fly what do you like to read? How do you pass the time?

When I’m flying, I listen to my iPod (now iPhone) and I read.  Usually I’m reading history, mystery and biography.  As much as I love holding a “real” book, the Kindle is a great invention for travel.

What is a favorite non-musical past time?

In the summer it’s tennis. Year around it’s yoga.

What is your favorite concert hall (aside from the Music Shed of course) to play in and why? And it doesn’t have to be for a musical reason.

I’ve played in a lot of amazing places around the world but I can’t say that I have a favorite. Concert halls tend to be either too bright or too dead for brass players so we complain a lot.

What does it feel like right before you walk onto the stage? What runs through your mind? 

I try to focus on the music at hand, but often I just notice how cold my hands are!

Do you have any pre-concert traditions?

Almost every concert is a different situation. I’m always concerned if I’m not nervous before a big concert, so I work at making myself a bit nervous.

Is there a work that brings to mind a particularly happy memory? For instance, is there a piece that made you want to play your chosen instrument, or one that always reminds you of home or a favorite place? Would you share the work and the memory?

My favorite song from growing up in the Midwest:

“We’re from I-oway, I-oway,
State of the all the land,
Join in every hand,
We’re from I-oway, I-oway,
That’s where the tall corn grows.”

At which point everyone throws their arms up in the air! Big hit in Iowa.

My favorite chamber pieces to play are by Stravinsky: The Octet and L’Histoire. We brass players are very fortunate to have important parts in these great works.

Everyone dislikes at least one thing about their profession. Aside from being away from loved ones and home, what is your least favorite part about being a musician? 

I can’t find much to dislike. I’ve been playing the trumpet for 65 years and making a living at it. I’m a pretty lucky guy.

What is one of your favorite pieces of music and why?

I love the Goldberg Variations particularly, but really all of Bach’s keyboard music. My listening habits are the music of Bach and before and jazz music from the 1950’s on.

Is there anything about the way classical music is presented to the world that you would like to see change or evolve?

I’d love to see more money for arts education and get more children involved in all kinds of music. Having grown up in the great band tradition of the Midwest, it is depressing to see the decline of music education in the schools.

Is there a particular piece of advice/insight that you share with your students about being a musician?

If a student has to ask: “Should I try to become a professional musician?” then it is probably hopeless. One has to have the talent, drive, perseverance and desire to become a musician and then anything is possible.