Marc Geujon is Principal Trumpet of the Orchestre de l’Opéra National de Paris. As well being a Professor at the Conservatoire de Saint Maur des Fossés, he is growing in reputation as a soloist and educator. September 2018 will also see Marc take up a teaching position at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris. I was delighted to be able to catch up with him and also to find out about his latest collaboration with Schilke.
What drew you to the trumpet as a child?
When I was 11, I asked my parents if I could learn music. After one year of learning theory and reading notes, I asked the music school if I could try trombone. The music school director answered, “There are no more trombones available, you will learn the trumpet…!”. I began with a non-professional teacher in my village. One year later, I passed an audition to enter the regional conservatory. The trumpet teacher didn’t want to take me in his class, because my sound and level were so terrible, and he told me to learn the tuba. I refused… He said, “Ok… stop playing during the summer and we will start at the beginning in September. Four years later, I graduated from the conservatory and joined Eric Aubier’s class for 1 and a half years. After, I entered the Paris Conservatoire.
Were there any particular early musical influences, or any musicians now that you particularly admire?
As with a lot of players, my first recordings were of Maurice André. And the CD which persuaded me to become a trumpeter was “Great French Trumpet Concertos” from Eric Aubier.
It was the reason why I asked to study with Aubier. He taught me a lot, especially on stage. When I was around 20, he asked me many times to play some baroque pieces for 2 trumpets or more with him (Vivaldi, Molter…) and also played the second part in Bach Masterpieces with him. It was an incredible experience for me.
Now, I’m a big fan of Reinhold Friedrich, Matthias Höfs, Pacho Flores… As orchestral players, I love Gábor Tarkövi, Peter Masseurs, Frits Damrow, David Bilger, Michael Sachs…
Do you have a set practise routine that works for everything, or do you have to change it drastically depending on what gigs you have in your diary? Does your practice change drastically from doing an operatic run, or a recital tour for example?
I have a practice routine that works for most of my days. Basics from Michael Sachs Daily Routine, Plog Program, Stamp, Arban, Clarke… It depends on the time I have to practice. I try to think the trumpet to be as natural and easy as possible… I work every day in that way. The only thing very important is that I need to practice in the morning, every day. I drive my kids to school every morning and begin my warm-up at 8:30am.
How does this change when you are travelling?
The problem is to play in the hotel room, with a practice mute. And also the jet lag… but I try to keep my routine and to do my best despite the hours, places and climate.
When you are teaching, have you found that your emphasis has changed over the years as your own experiences and playing develops and changes? Are there particular ‘schools of thought’ or strict ‘methods’ that you like to use with your students?
Yes, I have evolved a lot in my playing and teaching year after year. I try to be a student in my mind every day. I listen to a lot of music, I practice a lot of new things, I buy a lot of new books… so I try to share all my experiences with my students.
The most important thing I try to teach is “Trumpet playing must be easy”. I have the chance to see most of world’s best singers on stage every evening. The better they are, the easier they sing! It takes a lot of time and practice to play with easiness, but it’s so important and useful…
What are the key things that young aspiring players should concentrate on?
Sound, rhythm, music…and practice!
What has the process been like working on new Trumpets and Mouthpieces with Schilke? Can you tell us a little about how that relationship came about and what the design process was like?
Around 12 years ago, I was in a music shop in Paris to try a Schilke P5-4 piccolo for a colleague. Andrew Naumann, Schilke owner and president, and Phil Baughman, sales manager, were in the upper floors of the shop. They heard me playing the piccolo and offered me a Bb trumpet t try, a B1 anniversary model. I wasn’t a fan of that model, but I tested also a C trumpet (a C3) and it was so much easier to play compare to my Bach C. I bought it, and an X3 Bb one month later.
I met Andrew Naumann and his wife Julie several times after that, and I’m lucky to say that we are good friends now. I have played Schilke for 12 years now (C3, X3, E3L, G1L, P7-4, C5-4, XA-1…). When Schilke created their HD models, Andrew asked me to test them. They were good horns, but too stiff for me. We developed the C3HD, which was a little bit more flexible and brighter. It was better, but I was not completely satisfied for my playing style. Andrew and I discussed a completely new project. A new line which keep the standard qualities of the Schilke trumpets, but with a more orchestral instrument, with a beautiful rich sound, a lot of core, brilliance, and extremely flexible.
After 18 months of design and research, the Soloiste series was born. A new C and a new Bb trumpet, completely new… Not an assembly of existing parts, or small modifications on existing horns… And I can say that these trumpets are the best trumpets I have ever played.
In February, I was at the Schilke factory to finalize the Bb Soloiste with Andrew, and I asked Chris Jones, the Schilke mouthpiece production manager for a mouthpiece which fits perfectly with my Soloiste new trumpets. He made an incredible mouthpiece for me, and the Schilke Soloiste MG mouthpiece was born…
Most enjoyable project or gig?
I can say that it’s Christmas every day for me. I’m a lucky guy! I play in a wonderful orchestra, the Opera National de Paris orchestra, with a very nice and talented brass section. I play chamber music with the Opera brass quintet. I play regularly with piano or organ for recitals, and more and more with orchestra for solo concerts.
Every time I play, it is a good moment for me. And I love to meet other musicians from all over the world to play, discuss and share…
Proudest professional moment?
Perhaps ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ in Vienna Musikverein with the Paris opera orchestra… a wonderful moment with my colleagues. It was a change from our usual work in the pit.
What have you got coming up that you are most looking forward to?
I would love to record CDs now. It would be a good time in my life to do that… and I would love to travel more to play and teach French trumpet repertoire.
Thanks for your time Marc, is there anything else that you would like to add?
I would just like to thank very much my family for all the love they give me, Andrew and Julie Naumann with all the Schilke team for all their support and kindness, all the musicians I have met who have taught me something extra, and also, thank you, John for asking me these questions! 😉