Samuel Exline


Hometown: Viola, ID

Alma maters: University of Miami, B.M. 2016, M.M. 2018; Bard College Advanced Performance Studies Program, 2019

Photos by Matt Dine


Appearances: Atlantic Music Festival, 2017–18; Pierre Monteux School and Music Festival, 2015–16; Banff Brass and Drum Residency, 2014; Kennedy Center Summer Music Institute, 2011

When did you realize you wanted to pursue music as a career? What made me decide to start playing the trumpet, and ultimately pursue a career as a classical musician, was an episode of the children’s cartoon show Rugrats. In my favorite episode, Grandpa Lou loses his dentures and must get them back in order to play the big trumpet solo in a band concert. My six-year-old self begged my mom to buy me a trumpet, and she finally did after seeing how many times I watched the episode, which were too numerous to recall. I’ve stuck with it ever since.

How did you hear about TŌN? What inspired you to apply? I heard about TŌN via an alumnus of Bard College. I immediately set my sights on the program several years ago, as it has everything I was looking for in an advanced graduate program. TŌN is not only a stellar orchestral program that rehearses and performs more than any college or conservatory program, but also goes beyond solely performance and into critical and curatorial studies. This well-rounded approach is invaluable.  

Who is your biggest inspiration? My family. My mother, father, and sister are my constant inspirations for everything I do.

Which composer or genre of music do you feel you connect with the most? The composer I’ve connected with the most as both a performer and listener is Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. My reason is simple: I’ve never had as much fun on stage or in the audience as I have had playing or listening to a work by Tchaikovsky, and in particular, his symphonies.

What is your favorite piece of music, and why do you love it? Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5

What has been your favorite experience as a musician? Performing as Principal Trumpet on Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as a senior in high school

Do you have any embarrassing performance stories? A brass fanfare was the opening piece for a concert, and when we went on stage to begin, my music was missing from my stand. Luckily, my part was just a third lower in pitch than the part above me for most of the piece, so I was able to “fake my way” through the fanfare.

What is some advice you would give to your younger self? The more you practice, the more fun it becomes.

If you could play another instrument, what would it be? Bass Trombone

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing? Environmental Science/Policy

What is your favorite place you’ve traveled to and why? My favorite place that I have traveled to is Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana. My family and I have been to many of our nation’s national parks, but Glacier National Park truly took our breath away.

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us: I used to participate in competitive ski racing.

Piece of advice for a young classical musician: Get as many recordings of great musicians, bands, and orchestras as you can and listen as much as possible.