Life Member. Trumpet
7/29/1938 – 7/15/2018
by the LA Philharmonic Association
Thomas Stevens, former principal trumpet player with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, passed away on July 14, 2018, in Cambria, CA.
Thomas Stevens was appointed to the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1965 by then-Music Director Zubin Mehta, who named him principal trumpet in 1972, a position he held until 2000. He served in the same capacity with the World Orchestra for Peace, Sir George Solti’s hand-picked group assembled in Geneva for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, and the Casals Festival Orchestra in Puerto Rico.
The Los Angeles appointment was preceded by a stint in the U.S. Army as solo trumpeter with the West Point Band, followed by a one-year engagement with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
In addition to his work as an orchestral musician, Stevens performed and recorded as a soloist and chamber musician with major organizations worldwide, including the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and in the early 1980s he was invited by Pierre Boulez to participate in a special new brass music project with the Ensemble InterContemporain in Paris. He was a founding member of the Los Angeles Brass Quintet and also maintained an active presence in the Hollywood recording studios for many years.
Stevens is perhaps best known for his activities in the promotion, performance, and premiere recordings of new music for solo trumpet. His efforts resulted in many works which have become staples of the genre, including Sequenza X by Luciano Berio, which was written specifically for him.
Stevens was a published composer, arranger, and orchestrator whose works have been performed in major concert venues and on recordings. His original educational materials are used in music schools throughout the world. He was the editor of the definitive published version of the internationally acclaimed James Stamp Warm-Ups and Studies (Editions Bim) and also edited the James Stamp Supplemental Studies (2009) for the same publisher. In 2011, Stevens compiled and edited the Editions Bim publication After Schlossberg, a collection of derivative post-Schlossberg era trumpet studies, and in 2016, Gossamer Wings Music released the educational video Thomas Stevens on Musicianship: Vacchiano’s Rules and Beyond, which features selected excerpts from Stevens’ masterclasses at the Center for Advanced Musical Studies at Chosen Vale in New Hampshire. In 2017, the hour-long video Thomas Stevens, The Schlossberg Workshop at Chosen Vale was posted on YouTube.
Thomas Stevens’ primary trumpet studies were with Lester Remsen and James Stamp in Los Angeles and William Vacchiano in New York City. As a teacher in his own right, Stevens was a regular faculty member at the University of Southern California, CalArts, and the Music Academy of the West and gave master-classes and held residencies at leading institutions around the globe. The list of those who have studied with him includes prominent international soloists, members of major symphony orchestras, and faculty members at leading universities and schools of music. Stevens was a member of the founding board of directors of the International Trumpet Guild.
Following his retirement from the Los Angeles Philharmonic in December 1999, Stevens continued his activities on the international masterclass circuit, teaching in various U.S. and European venues, including repeat appointments to the faculties of the Lake Placid Institute, the Center for Advanced Musical Studies at Chosen Vale, TAW Bremen, Germany, and, during the fall term of 2008, the California Institute of the Arts.
In 1996, Stevens was named outstanding alumnus of the year by the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, where he did his undergraduate studies, and in 2007 he received a Certificate of Special Recognition from the Congress of the United States, together with a similar citation from the California State Senate, for “outstanding and invaluable service to the community.”