March 14, 2017
By Mike Killeen, Photo by Tommy O'Laughlin '13
If the Ford family from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, ever decides to put together a band (and more on that later), they know that any trumpet solo will soar.
Jacob Ford, a sophomore instrumental music major at Saint John’s University, won the Grand Prize in the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra’s Young Performers Competition.
Ford, who performed Alexander Arutiunian’s “Trumpet Concerto in A-flat Major” to win the Grand Prize, won a $400 scholarship, an appearance at an Honors Recital at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 15, in the Ruth Grant Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center at St. Cloud State University and a performance April 29 with the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra.
He’s the second consecutive SJU student to win the competition. Pianist Curtis Noecker, now a junior at SJU, captured the 2016 competition.
Ford said he almost missed the email that told him he had won the competition.
“They told me they would get back to me that night or the next morning,” Ford said. “So the whole night, I’m refreshing my emails, just waiting. Then, I finally got it the next morning, and I didn’t want to open it because I was so nervous.
“But I did, and it was good news.”
He felt like he had put his best foot forward at the Feb. 15 competition. He was accompanied by pianist Sean Jacobson ’13.
“I was comfortable with how I did, but I was still really nervous for how everyone else was doing,” Ford said. “I’m very much a perfectionist in my playing, and I think many musicians are. So you always remember those little things that didn’t go right. That’s basically how I was feeling.
“It was a good run, and it was probably one of the better runs that I had done. So, it was a pretty good representation.”
Ford is a busy guy. He is the principal (first chair) trumpet player in three ensembles at the College of Saint Benedict and SJU – the CSB/SJU Wind Ensemble, the CSB/SJU Orchestra and the CSB/SJU Brass Choir.
“I’m more of a classical musician,” Ford said. “I really do enjoy the Wind Ensemble and the Orchestra. I can’t explain why. I think the music speaks to me on a deeper level.”
“Jacob has a devoted passion for music and a determined, diligent work ethic that has only enhanced his preparation in becoming a musician of the highest caliber,” said Justin Zanchuk, instructor of brass at CSB and SJU who directs the Wind Ensemble. “He is committed to developing the fundamental skills of his trumpet playing, increasing his ability to express his instinctual musical ideas both as a soloist and in ensembles.”
That starts with his family, which almost has the makings of a band.
His mom, Bernadette, sang in community groups and local theater productions. Three older sisters play woodwind instruments – clarinet, oboe and saxophone (played by Olivia, a 2016 graduate of CSB who played in the Wind Ensemble). Younger siblings also play trombone and clarinet, with another brother still undecided.
“Yeah, that’s the goal,” Jacob Ford said. “I’m trying to see what he does, so I can get him on an instrument that no one plays yet.”
Ford actually picked up the trumpet – literally – in the sixth grade. The band director from the middle school came to Ford’s elementary school and laid out multiple instruments for the students to try out.
“I think trumpet was the second instrument I tried. I tried saxophone first,” Ford said. “I picked up the trumpet, and things were OK. I could make some noises.
“I just started from there. It was something that I really enjoyed doing. I think it was unique. I had never really gotten into music prior to this.”
Ford knew the CSB and SJU campuses well from visiting his sister Olivia. An audition with Zanchuk for a music scholarship sealed the deal.
“I definitely think it’s a good community here,” Ford said. “People are comfortable giving feedback and receiving feedback. In studio class, we always have weekly performances where a group of brass (musicians) will meet for class, and someone will play and we have time to say, ‘This is really good but maybe next time think about doing this.
“It’s a really healthy environment, and I’m lucky to have it. It’s so beneficial.”
Jacob Ford will perform with the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra at 7:30 p.m. April 29 at St. Cloud State University’s Ritsche Auditorium. Ford will play Alexander Arutiunian’s “Trumpet Concerto in A-flat Major” with the Symphony Orchestra — the same piece he played to win the Grand Prize in St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra’s Young Performers Competition. The Symphony Orchestra will also perform works by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and German composer Engelbert Humperdinck. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for senior citizens and $5 for students.