Alyson Rozier loves playing the trumpet. She loves it so much she got her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in trumpet performance.
Had she not heeded the advice of her childhood orthodontist, the 33-year-old musician might have played the clarinet, instead.
“My sister played the clarinet, so, of course, I wanted to play it, too,” Rozier says. “My orthodontist didn’t think it was such a good idea, though. He said it would interfere with the (dental) treatments I was getting at the time.”
So, she took up the trumpet, instead. With the encouragement of her mother, an elementary-school music teacher, and her father, a pianist, she continued to toot the horn throughout college, even as her attention shifted from performance to music education.
“It was the perfect environment for a young musician,” Rozier says of her upbringing. “Any time I had a solo with piano accompaniment, I’d be up with my dad until 10 o’clock at night, running through music.”
However, after years of honing her brass-playing chops, Rozier opted to pursue a career in arts administration. She says it was her way of experiencing the best of both worlds.
“The music world, for a professional musician, is very demanding and competitive,” Rozier says. “It’s important early on to figure out where you fit. I love playing, but I can’t imagine devoting my entire career to it. I don’t have it in me to practice every night.”
In 2005, she earned dual master’s degrees in trumpet performance and arts administration from Florida State University.
A Port Charlotte native, Rozier says she lucked out when she landed a job seven years ago at an arts organization so close to her hometown.
Hired straight out of college as the Sarasota Orchestra’s assistant education director, Rozier is in charge of managing the organization’s five youth orchestras.
The job requires not only an advanced understanding of music curriculum but also an ability to juggle the minutia of a 26-week program that enrolled more than 230 children this season.
In addition to managing the Youth Orchestra, she also coordinates outreach activities to area schools, manages the Sarasota Orchestra Summer Music Camp and is currently wrapping up her favorite project of the year: the Young Person’s Concerts.
The curriculum-based concert reaches more than 10,000 fourth- and fifth-grade students in Sarasota and Manatee counties.
Developed by Rozier and a team of six teachers, this year’s project was hailed as one of the best in the program’s 58 years.
“It was awesome,” Rozier says, presenting a spiral-bound composition for an orchestral piece titled “Tamiami Sinfonietta,” by composer Gregory Smith.
Although Smith’s name is written on the front of the score, the four-movement piece was composed in collaboration with students from four local elementary schools: Gulf Gate, Lamarque, Gene Witt and Oneco.
Flipping through the score, Rozier points to each school’s movement, in which Smith has embedded melodies created by specific students or teams of students.
The project culminated last week with a series of concerts, performed for busloads of children at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, under the direction of Youth Orchestra alum Chris Confessore, who now serves as the resident conductor of the Alabama Symphony and the music director of the Brevard Symphony.
When the work premiered last week before the students at Lamarque Elementary, Rozier says many of them were able to pinpoint their tunes.
“They were ecstatic,” Rozier says. “I could see the figurative light bulb go off in their heads. It sparked an interest, like, ‘Hey, classical music can be cool.’”
DID YOU KNOW
When California-based composer Gregory Smith agreed to collaborate with local music teachers to write a piece of music using student melodies for the Sarasota Orchestra, no one expected him to spend so much time on the project.
One of the most sought-after composers in the country, Smith wrote and conducted the music for “Wishes,” the nighttime fireworks spectacle at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
He also composed the current ESPN college football theme, the re-release of the original “Star Trek” theme and is frequently tapped to create work for commercials, movies and television shows, including themes for the Discovery Channel, TNT and Warner Bros. cartoons.