Prizewinner of the International Trumpet Guild (ITG) Solo Competition in 2013, Lau Wen Rong completed his Master’s Degree with Raymond Mase at The Juilliard School under the Frieda and Harry Aronson Scholarship.
Wen Rong received his Bachelor of Music Degree from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music of the National University of Singapore, where he was awarded a full merit scholarship. His competition successes include 2nd place at the Pan-Asian soloist competition at Brass Explosion 2012, 2nd place in the prestigious Norman Cooper Chamber Music Competition held in Aberdeen (Brass Polish), and 1st place at the Singapore International Band Festival (Orchestra Collective).
Wen Rong has appeared with the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra, Singapore Lyric Opera Orchestra, Juilliard Orchestra and the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory Orchestra. As a soloist, Wen Rong has appeared with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra performing Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto no. 2. He has also participated in music festivals such as the Pacific Music Festival (PMF) in Japan and was selected as a Fellow at the Aspen Music Festival in 2015. As an active chamber musician, he has performed with award-winning brass ensemble, Brass Polish (Singapore) and various other brass quintets in Singapore, taking part in outreach activities and bringing the joy of music to the public.
Wen Rong is a recipient of the 2015 RI-Darrell Ang Young Musicians’ Foundation Scholarship, Trailblazer Foundation Study Grant and National Arts Council Capability Development Grant. Wen Rong has studied with Jon Dante, Mark Gould, Joe Burgstaller, William Theis and Tay Jiun Ngiap. Wen Rong is currently on the faculty at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of music and he is a Yamaha Artist.
Since graduating from your studies from The Juilliard School, you have embarked on a professional music career, and became Section Trumpet at the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO), and Artist Faculty, Trumpet at the Yong Siew Toh (YST) Conservatory. What do you have to say about the journey so far?
As cliche as it sounds, I must say that I have been living the dream that I’ve envisioned years ago. It has been an amazing, exciting and sometime stressful journey so far. I have learnt so much through playing in the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, especially through playing next to my incredible and supportive trumpet colleagues. I have also learnt a great deal from my students at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, whom they constantly pushed me to be the best I can be.
What is it like being a full-time trumpeter? What is your work schedule like?
Being a full-time trumpeter can be really challenging and fulfilling at the same time. Challenging – because I have to learn a few new pieces every week and some of these pieces can be really difficult. Fulfilling – because I get to play all these great orchestra music and that I get to see my students grow.
Every week’s schedule is different for me as it all depends on my SSO schedule. We usually start rehearsing 3 days before the performance. For example, if we have a Friday night performance, we will start our rehearsal on Tuesday morning from 10am to 1.45pm (on some occasions, we will have double rehearsal sessions in a day). In addition to my performing schedule, I have to work around this to include my YST, private teaching and band coaching sessions.
What is your current practice routine?
My current practice routine consists of really fundamental playing techniques in following order: Leadpipe buzzing, Mouthpiece buzzing, Note bending, Cichowicz’s flow studies set 4 and 5, Scales, Bai Lin lips flexibilities and Schlossberg. This usually takes about 20 minutes, and after that I will focus on etudes such as Charlier’s and Brandt Etudes and then the orchestra pieces that are scheduled for the current SSO season.
What do you do before each performance to ensure that you are in the best condition and ready?
I usually takes a long afternoon nap before each performance to ensure that I am in the best condition mentally and physically. In recent years, I also tried meditation right before going on stage. I find meditation to be extremely helpful in calming my nerves and to sharpen my focus.
Do you have music that you always listen to or a favourite playlist? Perhaps something that motivates or inspires you?
I always listen to John Williams’ music when I needed to be motivated. One of my favourite albums by John Williams is the ‘Summon the Heroes’ album. I could listen to this album for the whole day and not get bored. The amazing solo in this album by Tim Morrison remains to be the best I have ever heard and it really inspired me to work towards that amazing tone.
What are some advice for young trumpeters to work on to improve their playing?
- Sitting posture. Always sit up straight and keep your chest up.
- Proper breathing technique without tension – inhaling and exhaling.
- Always have a goal in your practice session, don’t waste time. Keep a practice diary.
- Listen to great musicians – Spotify, Berlin Digital Concert hall etc.
Any advices for trumpet players trying to become a professional musician?
- Know deep down your heart that this is what you really want to do. If yes,
- Get the best teacher you could find
- Always have a goal of what you want to achieve or improve, be it long term or short term
- Start playing in community bands and orchestra such as the Singapore National Youth Orchestra, Philharmonic Wind Orchestra, etc
- Be really patient with yourself
- Record your practice session often
What do you see yourself doing in the next 5 to 10 years?
I plan to continue doing what I love – SSO, YST, and teaching private and band students. I also plan to record an album consisting of standard trumpet pieces and some local pieces. I would love to see myself evolve and mature as a musician, and to appreciate and be grateful for a life as a musician.
A contributing editor at TBP.