David Washburn

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Meet the Musician: David Washburn

Principal Trumpet of the California Philharmonic

When David Washburn, Principal Trumpet of the California Philharmonic, was 11 years old, he discovered that his father had once played trumpet and coronet. The young David wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and play trumpet as well, however, not wanting a young trumpeter blasting away in the house, his father wouldn’t allow it. Yet Fate stepped in. While the Washburns were visiting a family friend, who coincidentally had a trumpet that had belonged to David’s father, David found himself blowing away on it, and the family friend said, “Buy that kid a trumpet.”

David was born in Pasadena, and grew up in Long Beach. His father had worked at JPL, later becoming a Professor at Cal State Long Beach. His mother, though she didn’t consider herself musical, “played a good harmonica.” Both parents were very supportive of David as he went on to the University of Southern California, playing in the acclaimed USC Marching Band, and then onto the New England Conservatory in Boston where he earned his Master’s in Music with distinction.

Upon finishing his studies, Mr. Washburn returned to LA, jobbing in the freelance scene. But not for long, as he soon won the position of Principal Trumpet for the Hong Kong Philharmonic. “It was a wonderful experience,” he says of living in then British-ruled China. “It was a learning job.” After living for 3 years in The Pearl of the Orient, David Washburn once again returned to his native land of California to enjoy a vibrant and prolific career both in the studios and on the concert stage.

He serves as principal trumpet for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and associate principal for the LA Opera Orchestra, as well as touring regularly with the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society. On film soundtracks he has played principal trumpet for Incredibles 2, Spiderman Homecoming, Planet of the Apes, Karate Kid, and Avatar to name just a few, with a notable feature on Zorro. He played on numerous James Horner scores including Titanic, and has been in John Williams’ trumpet section for over 20 years.

David is yet another one of the Cal Phil’s musicians who have been with the orchestra since its inception. And like so many of his colleagues, he appreciates the players who are part of the Cal Phil and the friendly environment. “Victor runs it as a family,” he says of the orchestra. “He treats you like family…and the venues are wonderful,” referring to the Arboretum, the Bowl at the Santa Anita Race Track, and Walt Disney Concert Hall. He also appreciates how Dr. Vener brings the audience to the music. “It’s much more than a concert experience. You get a little lesson, and a lot of humor.” Speaking of humor, he’ll never forget the time he was playing the Hummel Trumpet Concerto with the Cal Phil at the Arboretum. As they were wont to do every evening at sunset, the peacocks joined in with their crooning.

David has 4 kids, ranging from 14 to 30, and all of them play instruments or are musically inclined. His own father was a sailor and in turn raised him to sail. David captained his first boat at age 7. “It’s a great way to build responsibility,” he says of his early nautical involvement. His current boat is named the “Quest” which he enjoys taking out to Two Harbors and Cherry Cove on Catalina Island. Whether sailing the SoCal coast, or serenading the silver screen, David Washburn represents the quality and expertise of a California Philharmonic musician.