West Linn native wins international trumpet competition
Tony Glausi's love for the trumpet began before he was even old enough to play one.
He was seven years old when he decided the trumpet would be his instrument, but at that point he was told that he wasn't big enough to learn how to play. Glausi would have to wait until he turned 10 before he could start taking lessons, and until then he settled for a toy trumpet he got when he was eight.
"It would play a song if you pressed a button," Glausi said. "It was my favorite toy."
Even now, as a professional musician with a number of international awards to his name, the Eugene native and graduate of West Linn High School can't quite explain what drew him so strongly to the trumpet. He had a cousin who played, and he'd seen people swaying with their horns in movies. But more than anything else, Glausi, 23, chalks it up to the whimsy of childhood.
"If you remember being a kid and wanting things, I don't know if it was anything other than the way it looked," Glausi said. "I don't think I really thought about it ... I think I was just drawn to the look and feel of it."
If their introduction was akin to a chance meeting, Glausi and the trumpet have been happily married ever since; and Sept. 23 Glausi earned first prize at the renowned Carmine Caruso Solo International Trumpet Competition held at the University of Idaho. The prize was just the latest in a burgeoning career that has also included wins at the 2017 ITG International Trumpet Competition and the 2014 National Trumpet Competition. Glausi was the also winner of the 2016-17 Laurie Frink Career Grant, and in 2016 he founded the Shedd Youth Jazz Orchestra at the John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts in Eugene.
Though he's hardly a stranger to accolades, Glausi had no idea what to expect when judges named their winners at the Carmine Caruso competition.
"Everyone in the competition was an amazing player," Glausi said. "When they announced the second-place winner, I thought, 'Wow, I'm either first or nothing.'"
In winning first prize, Glausi also earned a hefty $10,000 award.
"I've done these (competitions) before, and it's always a big deal, but this one is a cutthroat, competitive thing," Glausi said. "And the money is better than a lot of them."
Music runs in Glausi's family; his mother and each of his four grandparents worked as professional musicians. Some of Glausi's earliest memories are dancing to the music his parents played in their living room.
"Eighties classics — Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, that kind of thing," he said. "It wasn't like I grew up listening to Louis Armstrong."
He started experimenting with the piano when he was 4, teaching nursery rhymes to himself before eventually asking his mother to start teaching him when he was 7. At 10, he finally found the trumpet.
"I took lessons and that became my focus, mainly because I never thought I was great at piano," Glausi said. "The trumpet I took to a lot more quickly. I felt like I had my own thing on my trumpet."
Until he was about 16, Glausi focused primarily on classical music. He credits West Linn High School band instructor Kevin Egan for helping introduce him to jazz.
"I just kind of wandered into more of a jazz emphasis, in part because of him," Glausi said. "The other schools (I went to) were more about marching band and classical ensembles."
After graduating from WLHS, Glausi moved on to earn a bachelor's degree in jazz performance and a master's degree in jazz composition — both from the University of Oregon. He splits his time on an array of pursuits, from serving as founding director of the Shedd Youth Jazz Orchestra to playing both trumpet and piano in a number of groups, writing his own music and touring. He plans to move to New York next year, which will likely prompt more touring both stateside and internationally.
To learn more about Glausi and his work, visit tonyglausi.com.