Revealing our newest Member of the Orchestra: James Fountain! As LSO Principal Trumpet, James follows in the footsteps of some of his brass-playing heroes including Philip Cobb, Maurice Murphy, Rod Franks, Howard Snell and Willie Lang. We spoke to James to find out more about his journey to the hot seat.
I grew up surrounded by music with both my mother and father playing in the local Salvation Army brass band so there was always brass instruments around the house. I first picked up the cornet at the age of 3 and as a youngster played with my local brass band The GUS Band, The National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain and then the Grimethorpe Colliery Band before starting my studies on Trumpet at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. I joined the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra as Principal Trumpet whilst still studying at the Guildhall and more recently have held the same position with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
I am always inspired by the level of musicianship in London and feel very fortunate to have played with so many fantastic players during my career so far. Like many other trumpet players, I am constantly listening to recordings of great players such as Wynton Marsalis, Håkan Hardenberger and Sergei Nakariakov. However, one of my most important brass playing icons is the incomparable Maurice Murphy, former Principal Trumpet here at the London Symphony Orchestra. His thrilling sound stretching across the LSO on countless film soundtracks and other amazing recordings played a fundamental part in me wanting to become a trumpet player.
I feel extremely privileged to be joining the London Symphony Orchestra and the opportunity to sit in a chair that has been held by some of my brass heroes is a dream come true. The history of this famous brass section is something to be cherished and I’m incredibly proud to be a part of what I hope will be a very exciting future. I cannot wait to get started with the LSO and the forthcoming schedule looks full of fantastic concerts. I’m especially looking forward to Mahler’s Fifth Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas next year (15 May 2022) and also hearing Håkan Hardenberger give the world premiere of Helen Grime’s new Trumpet Concerto (3 April 2022). Obviously an orchestra like the LSO is in high demand around the world, often spending large amounts of the year on tour so I’m hoping that the current COVID situation doesn’t affect this too much.
The past 18 months have been incredibly difficult for everyone and the pandemic has had a devastating affect on the arts as a whole. However, I hope as both an orchestra and an audience we can show that music makes the world a much better place and is a vital part of our society now more than ever.
If was to offer any advice to a young musician I would tell them not to be afraid of being out of their comfort zone and make sure to experience as many types of music making as they possibly can - we are well and truly spoilt for concert opportunities in London so go and listen to as many as you can.