Conservatory Spotlight: Luca Farina

Luca Farina, 24, is a first year Artist Diploma candidate studying with Jim Wilt. He is from Long Island, NY and has been playing trumpet for 15 years. Outside of Colburn, he also performs with the American Youth Symphony and the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra.

This interview has been lightly edited for style and content.

Why did you decide to come to Colburn?
I was intrigued by the intimate environment here and how small the school is. I also heard great things about Jim’s teaching. After my mini-lesson with him after my audition, I was already interested in what he had to offer.

What do you think of it so far?
I’m still getting used to the fact that it’s a much smaller music school and the fact that everyone here is talented. Everyone supports each other. I enjoy the vibe a lot.

What’s your favorite thing about Colburn?
I like the plethora of guest conductors. I’ve never worked with that many guest conductors in such a short time. It’s great because it helps expose you to different interpretations and approaches to the music, and how different conductors handle an orchestra and a piece of music. I especially liked working with Thierry Fischer. I liked how he really tried to push the limits of the orchestra, especially with the soft dynamics. I noticed that’s his thing. I went to go see the Royal Phil play at Cal State Northridge and he demonstrated those same things he worked on with us.

How did you get started playing?
My parents weren’t musicians but they were both very into music and they could tell that I had a good ear at a young age. My dad bought me a trumpet and things kind of went on from there.

When did you realize that you wanted to pursue music?
When I started my undergrad, I wanted to be a band director. But after switching teachers, I started taking trumpet more seriously and realized then that I could probably do this, let’s give it a shot. My goal is to get into an orchestra and teach trumpet at a college.

What has your teaching experience so far been like?
I’ve taught private lessons for several years and I’ve always enjoyed the one-on-one experience. I’ve found that that comes naturally to me. I enjoy trying to find ways to help the students and I like the idea of giving the students the tools to help themselves. I also enjoy watching them improve, even slightly. It’s always been one of the most rewarding things for me.

I’m also one of the teachers for the Jumpstart program here, and that’s been a unique experience. I’ve never really helped students start at the trumpet; I’ve always taught students that have been playing for a couple years. It’s a challenge, but watching the students be enthusiastic all the time about playing has made it a lot of fun. I think introducing them to music is really cool, especially how we let students try a bunch of instruments so they can decide, oh I liked playing this instrument, let’s do that. It’s easy to switch out if they feel like trying something different.

How would you make classical music more accessible to a wider audience?
I really like what the LA Phil has been doing to help engage all kinds of audience members, such as getting all kinds of new works and playing a lot of more popular repertoire. What they’re doing is very unique, and I think they are definitely going to thrive because of that. I find that a lot of other orchestras tend to live in the past, like oh this has worked for a long time, but times are changing.

What role do you think trumpets play in an orchestra?
It’s different with different composers. Beethoven writes trumpet parts that essentially mimic the timpani. Mahler really likes to feature first trumpet. It depends. In general, the trumpets have to provide a little bit of spice for the orchestra.

What are your hobbies outside music?
I’ve been trying to exercise more. I also enjoy beer tasting. I’ve been trying all types of new beers. I really like Karl Strauss. Belgian wheat is my go-to. I also like lagers and hefeweizens, porters and stouts.

The weekly Saturday Spotlight series highlights our outstanding faculty and staff from across the school. Read other spotlight interviews.