Matthew Sonneborn, principal trumpet, earned a B.M. degree from the New England Conservatory. Matt is in his 25th year as Principal Trumpet with the Naples Philharmonic. He has been a frequent soloist with the orchestra performing Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, Hummel's Concerto for Trumpet, Copland's Quiet City, Leopold Mozart Concerto, and the Florida premiere of James Stephenson's Concerto for Trumpet. Matthew also performs in the Pops series, and with the Naples Philharmonic Brass Quintet.
During the summers Sonneborn performs on occasion at the Grand Teton Music Festival, with the Baltimore Symphony and with the Colorado Music Festival. He has played under the direction of Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, André Previn, Simon Rattle and Leonard Slatkin.
His wife Kristen, the Principal Bassoonist and he recently celebrated their 18th Anniversary.
Name: Matthew Sonneborn
Hometown: Madison, WI
At what age did you begin playing your instrument? 10
Who have been your greatest musical influences? The movies Rocky and Star Wars when I was a wee lad, without a doubt. Since then, Wynton Marsalis, Maurice André, Gerard Schwarz, Charles Schlueter and John Aley (my most influential teachers). Having played the Haydn Trumpet Concerto at age 15 with the Milwaukee Symphony was profound.
Who are your favorite composers? How can you play trumpet in a major symphony and not love Mahler? Prokofiev is always a joy to play. Janacek, Copland, Richard Strauss, Respighi, Stravinsky, to mention a few. Of course, I am learning to love more and more pops composers the more I work here.
What career path would you have taken had you not chosen music? I could easily be a specialty coffee shop owner, a sports event planner in running – mainly organizing races; a teacher in some form, as I am a private music teacher.
What's currently playing on your iPod or CD player? Lots of podcasts in the world of specialty coffee. Whatever repertoire is coming up at work soon. My son's favorite music is always cued up for him in a pinch, and solo albums that colleagues and teachers send me. Right now a former classmate from college and my former teacher from the Boston Symphony have sent me CDs to listen to.
Your hobbies and interests: I roast my own coffee from green beans and fancy myself a coffee enthusiast. I drink some of the best coffee and espresso the world has to offer. I run marathons and shorter distances somewhat competitively. I like to spend lots of time with my son, Zach.
Some little-known, yet interesting facts about you: I bowl on occasion with my colleagues late at night after concerts. The trumpet section in my high school/youth orchestra yielded several professionals besides me. I am a race director for a 4-mile run/walk that earns over $15,000 a year for local charities and has around 1,000 participants. I have certified race courses through U.S. Track and Field. This is a very involved process. My grandfather did groundbreaking research with paramecium and was a highly celebrated scientist.
Funniest concert moment: Dropping my mute really loudly during a moment in Camelot and handing it to the second trumpet player who was playing just as the conductor looked to see who had made such a terrible sound. I also have to mention Jim Stephenson's ability to make me lose my composure during a ballet performance when he said, "And now … for my next trick, I'm going to pull a rabbit out of my hat." At the precise moment he finished stating this, unbeknownst to me, in the music was a perfect "Tah dah!" to his comment. His timing was impeccable.
Daily practice rituals: My warm-up, though short, provides a lot of insulation from injury. I warm up in 10-15 minutes, but cover most of the basics in my playing. If I have difficult pieces in the repertoire to tackle, I try to master those before the season even begins. I try to practice most when we are doing lighter symphonies by Haydn and Mozart, not when we are doing Mahler and Strauss or during heavy pops weeks. I carefully assess what is required of me in the weeks to come and prepare as well as I can, being mindful like an athlete of when to taper and when to train hard.
The question you're asked most often about your instrument (and your answer): "Is that a Monette trumpet?" My answer: "Yes."
Your favorite part about playing in the Naples Philharmonic: The variety has to be the blessing and the curse of this job. I love the challenges of having to be great at all styles and ranges and colors of playing the trumpet. The demands of seven pops shows in conjunction with what proceeds and follows it can be quite a push at times. When all is said and done, it is the perfect scenario for me. I never get bored of one style, and music stays very fresh for me. There are no egos here – that is very rare indeed, and I have tremendous respect for my colleagues for what they do inside and outside the orchestra to make this a fabulous place to work.