Trumpeter Cecil Welch with Northwinds Symphonic Band
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25
Where: First Baptist Church of Gainesville, 751 Green St. , Gainesville
Cost: $15 adults, $12 seniors and $5 students
More info: 770-534-2787 or theartscouncil.net
For 18 years, recording artist Cecil Welch toured with the Henry Mancini Orchestra as the solo trumpet player.
Mancini, a four-time Academy Award winner and 20 Grammys, is best known for his television and film scores such as “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “The Pink Panther,” and “10.”
Welch worked with Mancini while performing around the globe, recording movie soundtracks and becoming one of the great pop and jazz trumpet players of this generation.
Welch will visit Gainesville to perform with Northwinds Symphonic Band at First Baptist Church. The February classical concert will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, in the church’s sanctuary at 751 Green St. NW.
In addition to featuring. Welch, the Northwinds band will feature orchestral and band overtures as well as classics composed for the concert band by Percy Grainger and Leonard Bernstein.
Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and $5 for students. They are available through The Arts Council at www.theartscouncil.net or at the door the night of the concert.
Welch got his footing as a professional musician when he joined a symphony in Atlanta while enrolled at the Georgia Institute of Technology. When he became a full-time musician, Welch became dedicated to practicing and performing.
“Things started to develop in Atlanta, and it was becoming a big metropolitan area,” Welch said. “More gigs and such things in music were starting to happen then in my 20s.”
During his time as a member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is when he crossed paths with Mancini. The composer heard Welch play and offered him a job as the principal trumpeter and soloist. And the young may found himself on the road traveling to play with some of the world’s top musicians and orchestras.
Welch has since formed his own music production company and written a book “Two Two for the Road: The Trumpet and Me” in which he recounts his memories on the road.
Welch continues to perform around the globe as a solo trumpet artist and as a lecturer on the history of the trumpet.
Before his upcoming performance, Welch spoke to The Times about his music career and the best of his Mancini years.
Question: When did you first learn to play the trumpet? Who inspired you to start playing?
Answer: Way back! Six years old. My dad played the cornet, which is a shorter instrument and really the prototype of the trumpet, but it was him who started me on the trumpet.
Q: When did you want to know you wanted to make playing the trumpet a profession?
A: It’s hard to say, to put a date on it, because I’ve been doing it all my life. I was playing the trumpet, and I got a scholarship to Georgia Tech where I played in the band. I joined the Atlanta Symphony and was in the orchestra for 10 years.
Probably in 1976, Henry Mancini, he came to conduct the Atlanta symphony, and I was in the trumpet section and I was given a solo to play. Mancini gave me a bow, and I packed up and went home.
The next week and I get a phone call from Hollywood saying “Mr. Mancini enjoyed your playing, could you do a concert with him?”
I thought, “Adios symphony! Hello Hollywood!”
I did that job for 18 years until Henry’s passing.
Q: You were able to travel all over the world with the Henry Mancini Orchestra. What has been your favorite country to perform in?
A: Of course, the USA! We went to a lot of great other countries like England and Japan. The people in Japan love American music and were very enthusiastic and hospitable and polite.
Q: What are your favorite memories from the Mancini years?
A: It was actually being able to play with all of these wonderful orchestras and top musicians in the world. These orchestras were the best, and Henry Mancini himself was a wonderful person also. Mancini was a one-man music corporation. He was incredibly successful, so we flew first class everywhere. We stayed in all of the finest hotels. We were picked up in limos at airports, and sought out the best restaurants we could find. I miss that! It was a wonderful time in my life and met some fabulous people.
Q: What inspired you to write your book?
A: After trips I did with Mancini, I would come home and tell my music friends stories and things that happened. Just a lot of funny and humorous things that happened on the road, and they’d tell me I should write it down and they said they always looked forward to hearing it. So we got permission from the Mancini family and a publisher and now it’s on Amazon. I’ve put some wonderful music history in there about people we worked there and the history of music and the Hollywood world. Those were wonderful years for sure.
Q: What do you hope people get from your music?
A: I hope the music is memorable, and it’s music that is emotional, not just some rock ’n’ roll or rap stuff. It is romantic, and I hope it brings back memories and good times. That kind of music was real music.