In seven years of playing trumpet in front of audiences, Braden Unruh has learned how to get a handle on his nerves. However, on Jan. 22, the recent winner of the Kansas Young Soloist Contest will play his trumpet in a whole new venue, with a complete orchestra as back-up, and he anticipates having to deal with some pretty intense nervousness.
“I’ve never played a solo with an orchestra before,” Unruh said. “I hope it all goes okay.”
Unruh’s performance of Hayden’s “Trumpet Concerto, Movement I” is part of the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra’s Winter Classics Concert at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Newton High School Auditorium. Unruh won the high school soloist contest by audition and will be joined by college contest winner Joel Boettger, clarinetist. Both have received band instruction from Rob Tierney, current Goessel High School band instructor.
Unruh, who began playing the trumpet when he was in fifth grade, took lessons from former Goessel High School band instructor Jerry Toews for the past six years.
“Mr. Toews has been very influential in my life,” he said. “He has always motivated me to practice. It’s just fun to play for a teacher that I like.”
Unruh said he tries to practice his trumpet every day, or at least every other day, even though he is a typically busy high school student, a high academic achiever, and a basketball athlete.
He said he is also motivated to achieve success playing the trumpet by the example his older brothers, Kyle and Austin, set for him.
“I have always wanted to be like them,” he said. “They have both played at such a high level and are a good influence on me.”
Kyle Unruh is an honor graduate of Bethel College, North Newton, and is continuing his education in trumpet performance in a master’s program. Austin Unruh, a math education major at Bethel College, is also a Kansas Music Educators’ Association (KMEA) state level saxophonist, and an accomplished pianist.
“I always believed it was not good to compare myself to what they have done, but it has been hard being in their shadow,” Unruh said. “I am glad to have done what I have, and now I feel like I have made playing the trumpet my own.”
In addition to winning the young soloist contest, Unruh recently earned a spot in the KMEA orchestra along with two other students from Goessel, Grant Flaming (trumpet), and Reece Hiebert (bass clarinet). This is Unruh’s third time to qualify for the state level instrumental group, and he earned the maximum-allowed, four trips to the district KMEA band experience. He also won many regional and state music contest awards for his trumpet playing during his high school years.
“I was able to audition for the young soloist contest with my own choice of music,” Unruh said. “I chose to use the solo I took to state music contest last year. It is my favorite solo of all time.”
Unruh said he grew up listening to Hayden’s “Trumpet Concerto” on a CD, complete with orchestra behind it.
“I never dreamed someday I would be the one playing that song with the full orchestra,” he said. “I am very nervous but really look forward to it.”
Duane and Karen Unruh are his parents.