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  • Tero Lindberg - The Golden Trumpet: The small secrets of the Finnish professional miracles

    Kristina Dencheva
    13 May, 2023

    He arrived for the first time in Bulgaria at the end of March as our guest star teacher in our first Master class for trumpet and brass ensembles in popular music. I already knew that nowadays Tero Lindberg is among the best trumpet players worldwide. My first impression at the airport was sunny despite that it was already dark, and very Scandinavian. Blond hair, attentive blue eyes, slightly hoarse baritone and a beautiful black backpack case with two trumpets inside. The programme of the Master class and the final concert was confirmed, Sofia proposed almost unexpectedly nice Spring weather, everything was cool, sunny and professional on a fascinating and inspiring level. And the action began. 🙂 At the end of the Master class Tero made a promise for an interview in May especially for our Brass stories. I’m pleased to share the result of our chat with Tero Lindberg about trumpets, trumpet players and their place in pop, jazz and the music industry today and three episodes of a classical sci-fi movie we both love… 

    How would you introduce yourself to the Bulgarian and the international audience of our Brass Stories project? 
    Hi I’m a Finnish freelance musician. Playing trumpet, arranging, producing and composing music and at the moment I’m also teaching a little bit in Sibelius Academy and Metropolia school of music in Helsinki. 

    How and when did the trumpet come into your life? 
    I was 16 years old when I started playing trumpet. That time I played keyboards in a soul band and we had a sax player but we really needed a brass section. So I decided to try a new instrument 😊 and soon I realised that this is my thing.

    The people who inspired you during your first steps in popular music? 
    My first idols were from the pop and soul world, section players like Jerry Hey, Mic Gillette, Alan Rubin, Lew Soloff.  I’ve always loved screaming trumpets so when I was young, I was also a big fan of Arturo Sandoval, Bill Chase and other players of this kind ... A little bit later I discovered jazz music and my all-time favourites Freddie Hubbard and Clark Terry ♥️ Nowadays I really like all kind of music which is well played ♥️ but I’m still desperately in love with 50’s Maynard Ferguson records😊 

    I had really inspiring teachers in Finland when I started. My first teacher was Reijo Ruokonen who really got me to practise. Then I got to the professional studies in the former Metropolia school. Later, in 2001 I was an exchange student in Graz, Austria. There I had the great classical teacher Stefan Hofer who introduced me to a totally new way of playing. Stefan used to study with Malte Burba in Germany - his method has a lot of great advantages to trumpet playing.

    The beginning of your professional career?
    I think I was really lucky because during my studies we had a great punch of young players (with all instruments) who were willing to learn and practice and get better. We had lots of bands and everyone was supporting everybody ♥️ I made so many good friends during those years. Nowadays those people are at really high positions in the music industry in Finland, like tv-conductors, arrangers, producers... 

    Of course, my mum wanted me to study some real things (law for example) but when she saw me for the first time on the national TV with Finnish artist Danny, she understood that this is my thing😊 Again I think I have been really lucky with all jobs. When I was living in Austria (altogether 5 years) I was playing a lot with Finnish bands like Jimi Tenor and Leningrad Cowboys. Both of those were touring in Middle Europe at that time so I was doing really well when I was just learning to play…

    And your career now? I remember we spoke about the specifics of the work on TV in a live band of worldwide famous shows like Dances with the Stars or the national Saturday Night Live Finland. 
    Nowadays my weeks are all different - all kinds of gigs and also writing and arranging jobs. Lots of substituting in bands and playing with my regular bands. I was just a couple of weeks ago substituting inThe Voice of Finland live TV show. Next Autumn we start the 16th season of the Finnish version of Dances with the stars. Summertime I’m touring with famous Finnish rock band Popeda, so the Summer 2023 is full of festivals. 

    Your career at the jazz orchestras of Turku and Espoo? 
    I’ve been over ten years now in lead trumpet chair in both of those big bands. Both are great big bands in Finland, full of good friends. Both bands are doing around 5-6 projects per year and having international guests also like Till Brönner, Michael Abene, Nils Landgren, Victoria Tolstoy etc. I was also one of the founding members of Turku Jazz Orchestra 11 years ago and I used to be its artistic director between  2018 and 2021. I really love big band playing and this is one of my favourite things in the music scene.

    The inspiration and the difficulties to be an arranger for brass instruments in popular music nowadays?
    This is a difficult question… Nowadays there are not so many pop bands which have a trumpets or brass section and that is a bit of a problem in my opinion. We have an all time low number of kids and amateur players who want to learn the trumpet. Where from future trumpet players are coming? We definitely need more pop artists like Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake who are using brass sections. But somehow we have to try to spread The Force of the brass music to the world 😊

    The Golden Trumpet - how did you receive this beautiful and so suitable alias? 
    I’m a big fan of old school trumpet music from the 50's and 60’s, of all these great sounds and melodies. The trumpet used to be a really popular instrument and every country had their own “Golden Trumpet” in those times. In Finland we also had a really popular trumpet artist named Jörgen Petersen. He was my real idol when I was younger. In 2015 when I released my first album I wanted to bring back this kind of old school playing with great, beautiful melodies and sound. That’s how “my sound” was born.

    Let’s talk about your albums “The Return of the Golden Trumpet” and “The Golden Trumpet Strikes Again”. As a horrific fan of the original Star Wars movies, my first association with their  titles were related to the Episode V and VI - the real, original Star Wars movies. But what was your idea? 
    I’m big fan of original Star Wars movies too. I wanted to make my first album title really big and catchy😊 So I realised that The Return is working really great because there was no “Golden Trumpet” in the years anywhere, then the sequel was also clear. So it was a perfect match. I can tell you a secret 😊 I’m gonna do still one “Golden Trumpeт” album. Actually two… because The Christmas of the Golden Trumpet 2 is gonna come out in November 2023 and the last of the Star Wars inspired trilogy will be released in 2024 - 2025.

    How did you choose the pieces you included in your albums? 
    I always play the music I really like, so those are my favourite melodies and songs. And of course I always try to find new ideas for arrangements or new approach to the old songs.

    Let’s talk about the Finnish professional secrets of trumpet playing - Tero Lindbers’s ones. What is your concept? How would you describe the most important aspects of being a perfect trumpet performing artist? 
    I think there are no secrets... My concept is to try to improve yourself every year/month - just a bit every year. Practise more those things that you can’t do and put yourself into “deep shit” (musically) as much often as possible. That’s how you learn things fastest... In that way, in about 20-30 years you’ve hopefully learned a lot about trumpet playing 😊 Just do never stop learning and practising. And especially with this instrument you have to practise it almost every day throughout your life️. Jerry Hey didn’t have days off 😊

    At the end of March you came to Sofia for a Master class for trumpet and brass ensembles in popular music. It was glorious Spring Finnish adventure in Bulgaria - very special for all of us here. Please share your impression of this trip. 
    Oh… this was one of my best trips ever ♥️ Bulgarian people, food, your beautiful Capital Sofia (and of course a little bit of Rakia too😂) - I loved everything. It was such a nice long weekend with you! I really hope to be back soon as possible!

    Tero Lindberg and Michail Yossifov during the final concert of the Master class trumpet and brass ensembles in popular music on 25.03.2023 at the big hall of the National Music Academy "Prof. Pancho Vladigerov" in Sofia, BG. Photo courtesy of Neli Kurteva

    During your master class you presented the Handbook of the Trumpet Player you wrote in a collaboration with your colleague Aki Välimäki - former principal trumpet of Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra. Actually this was the first presentation of the book outside Finland. Thank you for this opportunity. Tell us more about the handbook. 
    Shortly... Me and Aki Välimäki met in 2016 at the Lieksa Brass Week Festival. During our teaching jobs there we were just talking about trumpet playing and quickly realised that we are thinking the same way about trumpet playing. Aki is a classical player, I’m from the popular music scene but still we are thinking the same. So already at that time we were talking about doing something together. Then when COVID started, I called Aki: Now is our time!😊 So that's how we started. Another big reason was that we don’t have so much good updated trumpet teaching material in Finnish language so there was an obvious need for that material. And that’s our goal also in the future to translate our book in many languages. Who knows, maybe in Bulgarian too? We are waiting for the English edition of the Handbook very soon 🙂

    At the end a few short questions with very short answers. 
    Your favourite children books character? Barbapapa
    Your favourite season? Summer
    Your favourite colour? Black
    Your favourite place in Finland? Home
    What is the feeling of being born on 29th of February? I feel young 😂
    The moment you would never forget? When my children were born
    The thing you will never forgive? The Russian attack to Ukraina
    Your wish to our audience? Please follow me on YouTube and Instagram 😊

    Photos courtesy of Neli Kurteva
    The interview is available in Bulgarian and in Dutch

    The BRASS STORIES Project is supported by the
    National Fund of Culture of Republic of Bulgaria

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    Atanas Karafezliev

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