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Oct. 17, 2012/For Immediate Release (high res. photos available)

Media Contact: Lauren Whitaker, 336-734-2891, whitakerl@uncsa.edu

 Mentoring Musicians:

Groundbreaking Female Trumpet Player Is Guest Artist at UNCSA


WINSTON-SALEM – Judith Saxton is a woman at the top of her game in the male-dominated field of brass musicians. She admits to occasionally feeling discomfort from conductors who are still “at odds with women in principal roles,” but Saxton, who teaches trumpet at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) credits her mentor, Susan Slaughter, with paving the way for hundreds if not thousands of female brass musicians.

Saxton is thrilled that her students at UNCSA, both male and female, will have the opportunity to learn from Slaughter during a three-day residency in the School of Music. Slaughter, who recently retired as the principal trumpet of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, will be on campus Oct. 30-Nov. 1, and will present a master class that is open to the public at 7:30 pm on Oct. 30 in Watson Hall.

Slaughter is a groundbreaker: the first woman hired as a full-time principal of a major symphony orchestra in the United States. In her 41 years with the St. Louis Symphony, she performed on numerous Grammy award-winning recordings. In 1993, she founded the International Women’s Brass Conference to provide opportunities and recognition for women brass musicians.

“It is extremely rare that our students get so much time with a musician of her caliber,” Saxton said, adding that her students will benefit not only from Slaughter’s exceptional musicianship, but also from her demeanor and approach to art and life. “She is fair-minded, kind-hearted, and methodical. Her manner is so forthright. She is right there with the kind of citizen artists we are trying to develop here.”

Susan Slaughter
Susan Slaughter
Judith Saxton
Judith Saxton

Saxton, who enjoys an international career as a versatile and sought-after orchestral, solo and chamber performer, says she benefited from those qualities of Slaughter’s, and she tries to model them for her students. She took private lessons with Slaughter and has attended her week-long Trumpet Lab.  “Throughout my career, she has been pulling me aside, telling me I have what it takes,” Saxton said of Slaughter. “Boy, that means a lot coming from such a talented musician and wonderful person.”

The students, Saxton said, will experience more than Slaughter’s immense talent.  “Her every interaction with them will highlight her discipline and personal investment. Students need to see that.”

As brass coordinator and director of the brass quintet for UNCSA, Saxton tries to create an awareness of gender bias in her students. Currently three of 11 trumpet students are female, and seven of the students are in high school. “I’m diving into that pretty blatantly – pointing out that girls don’t always have to fill the secretarial roles. Boys can and should do those jobs too.”

Saxton hopes her female students will not face the kind of discrimination that Slaughter faced. “At first she signed up for auditions as S. Slaughter. She didn’t use her first name because she knew she wouldn’t get invited,” Saxton says.

Slaughter told a reporter for Playbill Arts that when she auditioned for the St. Louis Symphony, one committee member saw a female candidate and decided it was time to refill his coffee cup. Then she started playing, and he sat back down.

“Her playing is so completely gorgeous,” Saxton said.

Susan Slaughter graduated from Indiana University, where she received the coveted performer’s certificate in recognition of outstanding musical performance. She has studied with Herbert Mueller, Bernard Adelstein, Arnold Jacobs, Robert Nagel, Claude Gordon and Laurie Frink.

Before accepting her position in St. Louis, she was principal trumpet of the Toledo Symphony. She was on the faculty of the Grand Teton Orchestra Seminar and the National Orchestra Institute. In 1990, she performed with the Bay Area Women’s Philharmonic in San Francisco and in 1991, she performed the National Anthem for game three of the World Series at the invitation of baseball commissioner Fay Vincent.

Judith Saxton performs regularly with the North Carolina, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Roanoke and Maryland symphonies and an array of chamber organizations on the eastern seaboard. She has performed as principal with the St. Louis Symphony on a set of subscription concerts and in the inaugural concert of the New York Women's Ensemble at Carnegie Hall. In the summers, she is on Eastern Music Festival faculty and is principal and soloist with the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival. A Conn-Selmer clinician, she is an active recitalist with both piano and organ, and a frequent soloist with bands and orchestras across the globe. For several seasons, she was principal and soloist with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Chicago Chamber Orchestra and with Wichita and Key West/South Florida Symphonies concurrently. She performed frequently with the Chicago and Grant Park symphonies and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra brass quintet and held full-time spots in seven Chicago orchestras.

Saxton served on the Fulbright National Screening Committee. She holds board memberships with International Trumpet Guild and National Trumpet Competition and served several terms on the board of the International Women's Brass Conference. She has written articles for the Brass Herald and ITG Journal. Saxton has a degree in music education from Mansfield University and a Master of Music from Northwestern University. Saxton's teachers include Vincent Cichowicz, Arnold Jacobs, William Scarlett, Susan Slaughter and Michael Galloway.

As America’s first state-supported arts school, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in music, dance, drama, filmmaking, and design and production. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.