James Ackley had long dreamed of cutting a CD of solo music. Now, the trumpet soloist has
done just that, and he's receiving accolades for his efforts.
Ackley, an assistant professor
of music, had previously recorded with orchestras, including the Bogota Philharmonic, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Dayton
Philharmonic, the Mexico City Philharmonic, and the Aguascalientes Symphony, as well
as recording television and
His new, solo CD, Recital Music for Trumpet, is composed of modern, romantic music. Compositions are by Robert J. Bradshaw, Thorvald Hansen, Cherilee Wadsworth-Walker, and Karl Pilss. Elena Kassmann accompanies on piano.
The CD may be purchased online at www.jamesackley.com.
Ackley says the pieces explore "every aspect of trumpet performance, highlighting the bold fanfare qualities familiar to listeners, to the lesser-known lyric beauty of the instrument.
"There are virtuoso and acrobatic lines, but it was the style and the approach of each work that intrigued me the most. I wanted
to take the listener on a musical journey," he says.
Ackley says the pieces are among those he had played previously in recitals.
"If you perform
a piece of music, sometimes it will stick with you long enough for you to want to perform it again," he notes. "That's how I chose the pieces for the CD."
One of his favorite pieces is Bradshaw's Sonata .
"It has a driving rhythm throughout, and the lyrical sections are absolutely gorgeous," he says. "It has a little bit of Latino rhythm, and a little bit of rock
and roll thrown into the mix."
Ackley, who joined the UConn faculty six years ago, says he hopes the CD will inspire other trumpet players to perform the pieces at their recitals.
"All musicians need to listen to different pieces and get an idea of what they want to perform within their career," he says. "Hopefully this CD will spark an interest in these works."
Ackley has already planned a series of CDs. His second CD, Lirico Latino , music he has arranged or transcribed for trumpet and piano, will be out in the spring.
He says he wants his new CD to introduce people to works they haven't heard before, and "basically to let people know that new music doesn't have to be so esoteric that it's terrible to listen to.
He is also keen for people to recognize that listening to the trumpet can be a good experience.
"We may be loud at times, but we're enjoyable," he says, "and not just for ceremonies."
Ackley lived in Colombia for six years and in Mexico for two and a half years, and performed with the Bogotá Philharmonic and Mexico City Philharmonic orchestras as principal trumpet and soloist, respectively.
"I just fell in love with the culture," says Ackley, who is married to a Latina woman he met in Mexico.
His many solo appearances have included orchestras, wind ensembles, and chamber groups in the U.S., Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay, and Ecuador.
He has also performed as a recitalist in South America, North America, and throughout Europe.
On a recent tour through Venezuela, critics called him "one of the best trumpet players in the world."
A native of Cincinnati, Ackley received a bachelor's degree in music from Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory of Music, a master's in music from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and additional studies at the Julliard School.
He's working on his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music - little by little - by taking courses during the summer.
He is principal trumpet with the New Britain Symphony, and occasionally plays with other orchestras such as the Waterbury Symphony.
At UConn, he gives trumpet performance lessons to undergraduate and graduate students and coaches chamber music.
Last October, he was a soloist at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, performing Karim Al-Zand's Concertino for Trumpet, a work that was written for Ackley through the auspices of the Sackler composition Prize offered through UConn.
Ackley will perform in the Avant Brass Quintet - a new group made up of UConn faculty and friends - on Sept. 18 at 8 p.m. in von der Mehden Recital Hall.
The quintet will feature several works of folk and popular music from Central and South America that he arranged.