Stephen Whimple


Photos by Matt Dine


Winner, 2022 American Trombone Workshop Division Three Bass Trombone Solo Competition; Finalist, 2022 American Trombone Workshop Division Three Tenor Trombone Solo Competition; Alternate, 2020 and 2021 ITA Lewis Van Haney Philharmonic Prize Excerpt Competition; Honorable Mention, 2021 ITA Alto Trombone Competition; Finalist, 2020 ATW Division Three Tenor Trombone Solo Competition; Finalist, 2018 ITA Robert Marsteller Solo Competition; Winning Ensemble (The Juilliard Trombone Choir), 2018 ITA Emory Remington Trombone Choir Competition; Winning Ensemble (Bearbones Trombone Quartet), 2016 Crane School of Music Chamber Music Competition


Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra, 2021–22; New York String Orchestra Seminar, NYC, 2018–19; Chautauqua Institution’s Music Festival, New York, 2018; Hot Springs Music Festival, Hot Springs, Arkansas, 2017; Texas Music Festival, Houston, Texas, 2016; Third Coast Trombone Retreat, Lake Michigan, 2015

What is your earliest memory of classical music?

The earliest moments in my life where I heard and resonated with classical music were in several crossover moments of television, movies, or concerts shown to me by my parents. Obviously, there are several fantastic Looney Tunes episodes. Two other moments were from several scenes in the original Blues Brothers movie, and a live concert on DVD of Metallica performing with the San Francisco Symphony. These aren’t necessarily the earliest events where I heard classical music, but this is when I started to get hooked.

When did you realize you wanted to pursue music as a career?

In 11th grade, I came to the realization that of all the things I was studying and committing to daily in high school, the only thing that brought me joy or made me excited would be what was happening in the band wing. Once I started practicing consistently, listening, and taking my studies seriously, it became clear that this was what I wanted to be doing with my life.

How did you hear about TŌN? What inspired you to apply?

Having lived in Upstate New York, I heard about The Orchestra Now from friends and colleagues that would apply and audition for the program since it’s first years. After completing my D.M.A., there were not many more educational settings that contrasted with my experience. This program, however, has a lot of educational and professional components that I felt I needed to continue improving in. In addition to that, this program is in a beautiful area, that is close to both my family and cities like NYC and Boston.

What do you think orchestra concerts should look like in the 21st Century?

I have several opinions I’ve gained from working with conductors, professors, and many other different curators. The days of three-hour concerts are soon to be over. Concise, themed, and educational programs could be great opportunities for new-coming audience members to find interest in coming to concerts more consistently.

Concerts that feature more popular musicians or different genres also are a great way to provide inclusivity to our art form. Some might know these as pops concerts, and they are very important to people who don’t live and breathe classical music! I also love going to see a movie with a live soundtrack, I imagine it must be fun too.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

I am very grateful to draw inspiration from all my friends and colleagues. My colleagues in the orchestra are phenomenal musicians and being around them is keeping me charged. My family and friends outside of the orchestra pursuing their work and interests also inspires me greatly.

Which composer or genre of music do you feel you connect with the most?

I am regularly listening to Jazz, bebop, post-bop, and modern cats too. There is such a rich and comprehensive history in a truly American art form. I never grow tired of exploring, learning, and being challenged by the music I find in my regular listening.

What is your favorite piece of music, and why do you love it?
What has been your favorite experience as a musician?

There are two pieces that stand out purely from them being memorable performances early in my career. Performances of these pieces solidified my aspirations to become a classical musician. Those are Strauss’ Alpine Symphony and Respighi’s Pines of Rome, both of which I played at the Texas Music Festival in the summer of 2016.

Favorite non-classical musician or band

I have been listening to a lot of Cory Wong, Braxton Cook, Sam Greenfield, Silk Sonic, and several jazz musicians who I’ve been sitting with and working through their discography. Cats like Melisa Aldana, Camille Thurman, Jazzmeia Horn, Kurt Elling, Veronica Swift, Vincent Gardner, and Miles Davis (his first quintet).

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us

Not a surprise to those who know me, but I own two cats that fill my life with cuteness and love. They help keep balance in my life, amongst many other things that they do.

Piece of advice for a young classical musician

Hold on to your passion. Find what inspires you and visit it daily. It could be music, art, books, a person (in your life or a role model), anything! Keep your mental up and keep at it. You never know when your chance will come, but you can always be prepared for it.