SAN DIEGO — The people who mount the First Presbyterian Church's concert series discovered the drawing power of musical prodigies in January when they presented Frank Almond and Gustavo Romero in a joint recital. Half an hour before the concert began, the 1,400-seat church was packed. Hundreds of eager but disappointed concert-goers were turned away.
On Sunday evening, the church will present a candidate for prodigy, 17-year-old trumpeter Ryan Anthony. Earlier this year, the Mount Miguel High School senior performed the Haydn Trumpet Concerto with the Cleveland Orchestra to critical acclaim. The Cleveland Plain Dealer headlined the review of Anthony's performance, "Trumpeter Ranks Up Front in Parade of Soloists." He won this opportunity to appear with one of the country's oldest and most prestigious orchestras by taking first prize in the 1986 National Solo Competition, sponsored by General Motors and Seventeen magazine.
"Playing with that orchestra was a great feeling," said Anthony, "and the musicians made me feel really good." Even the members of the orchestra's trumpet section were complimentary to the young performer. "They were more down to earth than I thought they would be, and they complimented me more than any other section did, which surprised me."
A member of a highly musical family, Anthony's success is not unexpected. His father, Roy, is Mount Miguel High School's band director, and his mother, Ruby, is a cellist and piano instructor.
His older brother, Roy (R.B.), plays French horn and is majoring in music education at San Diego State University.
"I see Ryan as a prodigy but I have no jealousy toward him. I had the same start he did--he just did more with it," said the 21-year-old musician. "I'm glad to be his business manager and to be there pulling for him."
Ryan Anthony started out playing the violin but after a few years he turned to the trumpet, a respectable band instrument. "It was my choice," said Anthony. "My family really wanted me to change but I did it just as much for myself." Since he started the trumpet, his teacher has been San Diego trumpeter Charles Lauer.
Unlike other members of his family, Anthony does not want to pursue a career teaching music. "I'll be one of the few who actually wants to go into performing. I think its pretty neat," he added enthusiastically.
Like many young, aspiring performers, however, Anthony's extracurricular activities do not include the more typical teen-age regimen of sports and student government. "I spend most of my time in band and outside music groups," he said.
While he gets some solo gigs with the school's symphonic band, his fame has not exempted him from having to do his stint in the marching band. "Yeah, I march--it's mandatory. Every year I have to march but if you're careful, you don't blow yourself away," he said.
"I'm really involved in a brass sextet that my brother and I have. We're playing just about every day somewhere, places like Horton Plaza and Sea World." The sextet, which is composed of two trumpets, two trombones, a French horn and a tuba, is called Brasszania.
"You can blame my brother for the name," Anthony said. "We're an entertainment group--we do a lot of the Canadian brass songs." Last week the ensemble auditioned in Anaheim for a summer engagement at Disneyland or Disney World.
After Sunday's concert, Anthony will get back to preparing for more competitions, including next month's preliminary round of the national Music Merit Foundation at SDSU.
On the Sunday program, which begins at 7:30 p.m., Anthony will play the Haydn Trumpet Concerto he played with the Cleveland Orchestra, with accompaniment provided by Robert Plimpton. Plimpton is both resident organist of the First Presbyterian Church and the San Diego civic organist.
In addition to the Haydn, the duo will perform Alexander Arutiunian's Trumpet Concerto and Vincent Persichetti's "The Hollow Men." Plimpton will also play organ solos by J.S. Bach, Marcel Dupre and the contemporary American composer Ned Rorem.