Karen Donnelly and the 32 trumpet tribute

Karen donnelly
Karen Donnelly

Last month, 32 of the world’s top trumpet players came together over the internet to perform a tribute to front-line health care workers battling COVID-19. The song is A Hope for the Future by Matt Catingub and the video has more than 220,000 views.

The musicians, who come from 14 countries, are stars of many kinds – jazz, classical, military, educators, members of the Dave Matthews band – and Karen Donnelly, Principal Trumpet of the NAC Orchestra, is one of them.

The video was organized by Jens Lindemann, a former member of the Canadian Brass and an international trumpet soloist who knows Karen from their days studying music at McGill University. The project was inspired by Ryan Anthony, another former member of the Canadian Brass and the  Principal Trumpet of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, who is fighting cancer and performs in the video from his hospital room. Anthony also started a foundation, Cancer Blows, to improve cancer treatment and help find a cure.

“Jens wanted to do something for Ryan, because he and people like him are at such high risk,” Karen said. “And at the same time he wanted to do something for the health care workers. Jens knows everybody, and he wanted to reach as many countries as he could. When you see the video it’s a very diverse group.”

Karen performed with Ryan Anthony at the Sun Valley Music Festival in Idaho a few years ago. “He’s super kind, super down-to-earth. So positive. It’s like trumpet is easy for him. He can play anything. And until recently, he’s kept playing, even when he was sick. He’d have chemo in the afternoon and then play a concert at night.”

The piece is in six parts, and doubled up the octave. “Jens sent the parts and you could record whichever one you wanted. If you wanted to play a solo you could do it. I recorded it in my kitchen because it’s got the best acoustics in my house.”

It was an honour to be part of such an illustrious group, Karen said. “Mike Downes is the best bass player. There’s people like Andreas Tofanelli from Italy, Al Muirhead from Calgary. Wayne Bergeron, who is the top lead trumpet in movies. He’s played in every single movie you’ve seen in the last 20 years. And some amazing women too – Ingrid Jensen, Mary Bowden, Amy McCabe.”

“I get goosebumps when I hear it.”

Watch A Hope for the Future here.

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