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Remembering Former Principal Trumpet Brian Perry

Part I By Channing Philbrick, trumpet

When you are a member of the Lyric Opera trumpet section you are one of three players. Every time you come to work you are sitting next to and working closely with the same people. I can honestly say that it was a real privilege to sit next to Brian Perry and play 2nd trumpet to him for so many years. Brian had incredible technique on the trumpet and a beautiful tone which made even the most technically challenging passages sound effortless. His natural musicianship allowed him to play all styles of music with creative phrasing while also sensitively matching the singers on stage. Brian was largely self-taught until college which makes his accomplishments even more impressive. He liked to pull pranks and joke around which helped relieve some of the stress inherent to the job. I could always count on him to try pulling my trumpet mouthpiece out of my trumpet when I wasn’t looking. I had to be alert at all times or I might pick up my horn before an entrance and find I had no mouthpiece to blow into! Away from the orchestra Brian was passionate about flying. He had a pilot's license and actually trained to do aerobatics! He even flew in competitions. He loved to talk about planes and flying lore. After Brian retired from Lyric he was able to really get into his flying and loved to spend his time hanging around the airplane hangars with other pilots. Although I was no longer sitting next to him every day, we kept in touch and talked frequently. I will miss those talks and his sense of humor. I was very fortunate to have had such a strong and supportive principal player to work with, but even more fortunate to have had such a good friend.

Part II

by Pete Labella, violin

Brian was one of the kindest people I ever knew. He was also was one of the finest musicians I ever worked with. And he played the trumpet like no one I've ever heard. He was my friend for 45 years, and I will miss him greatly. I know he had some trouble remembering things in his later years, but he never forgot how it felt to play first trumpet in the Lyric Opera Orchestra, and he cherished those memories. He was a good friend, a good colleague, and no matter what he was going through himself on any given day, he never had an unkind word for or about anyone. I will never forget all the help and encouragement he gave me. I believe, or at least it's my hope, that Brian found some peace in his final months. His life was not always an easy one. Near the end of our conversations, which continued until the final weeks before his death, he seemed to accept that even though he couldn't seem to remember all the details of his most recent years, his life and career had been successful, worthwhile, and meaningful, that he was loved by his family and friends, admired and respected by his colleagues, and would be remembered both for the man and the musician he had aspired to be. Rest in peace, my friend.

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