Striking the Right Chord

May 9, 2013

By Crystal Vining ’13

Accomplished Danish conductor Peter Ettrup Larsen joined Bradley’ Symphonic Winds in April to conduct the world premier performance of fellow Danish composer Ib Glindemann’s Trumpet Concerto. The song was originally composed for the trumpet but has recently been transposed for a full band and Bradley students were the first to perform it in the world.

Larsen trained at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland, under renowned professor Jorma Panula and made his debut in 1993. He has a diploma from the Royal Danish Academy of Music, Copenhagen, for clarinet playing and a master’s in musicology and rhetoric from the University of Copenhagen.

“At [the Sibelius Academy], we were all entranced in music,” he said. “It wasn’t a job for us. We were just having fun and playing as much as we could.”

Kelsey Hagan, a junior in music education, said rehearsing and performing with Larsen was both a joy and valuable learning experience. A percussionist who played the marimba during the Trumpet Concerto, Hagan said Larsen’s open and modest attitude helped her see her performance from a different perspective.

“He’s so full of energy. It was great to work with him,” Hagan said. “I loved how he told us that instead of the instrument making the music, we as musicians should be performing the music.”

In addition to working with the Symphonic Winds, Larsen also conducted the Bradley University High School Honor Band, which features 90 of the top instrumental students from 35 central Illinois high schools.

For his part, Larsen enjoyed working with both Bradley students and Department of Music Chairperson and Director of Bands Dr. David Vroman. Rehearsing since Friday and hosting two concerts, Larsen added that the students are some of the greatest he has worked with.

“The students come alive when they are playing,” Larsen relayed. “The genuine compassion that these students have is something that is very hard to come by.”

Dr. Vroman said Larsen brought more than his high-caliber musical ability to campus. “What he brings is his enthusiasm and ability to communicate and really get other people to become involved,” Vroman said.

In his native Denmark, Larsen has also appeared as a coach and a judge on the reality television show “Maestro,” a series where celebrity contestants learn how to conduct. He won the first season and was asked back to judge for the next. He considered himself to be the Simon Cowell character of the judges.

Additionally, Larsen has written multiple books and composed many pieces. He is now a freelance conductor and a speaker on musical communication.

“Conductors will have an advantage in the global market if they can meet a band and almost immediately create an atmosphere,” he said. “When the conductor and the band both relate to each other, it creates an exhilarating experience for the audience.”