Meet a Musician: Steven Campbell

Meet a Musician: Steven Campbell

Minnesota Orchestra member since: Sommerfest 2005

Title: Principal Tuba

Hometown: Brenham, Texas

Education: New England Conservatory of Music

Earliest musical memory:
My parents taught private lessons in our home as far back as I can remember. My dad taught all the brass instruments, beginner through high school, and my mom taught clarinet. Besides hearing wind and brass music at home, I heard my dad’s college band concerts.

I knew I’d make a career in music when:
I knew early on that music would be a part of my life for the long haul. Initially I wanted to be a band director like my father. But after taking up the tuba, also like my dad, I quickly realized I enjoyed performing, and decided to chase my new dream of winning a position with a major orchestra.

Favorite composer:
I love the way Prokofiev uses the tuba as a solo instrument but also changes its role throughout a piece. In one phrase it will play a solo line, in the next it has to function as an extra horn or add depth to a woodwind chorale. Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony in particular is a fantastic piece of music, not just because of the great tuba part!

Lately I’m listening to:
Cuban music! After our tour to Havana, I’ve been fascinated by it, especially the music of Septeto Habanero, a band that played for us while we were there. The innate sense of rhythm you find in that culture—relaxed but extremely steady—is amazing, something I aspire to.

Most memorable performance with the Orchestra:
I have many memorable performances with this band, but two stand out. Of course our concerts in Cuba and the reception we got from the audience there was something very special, which I’ll never forget. Then there was our Carnegie performance of Sibelius’ Kullervo in 2010. I still get goose bumps thinking of it. I’m very excited we’ll do it again in February 2016!

Something particularly interesting right now:
This Sommerfest I’m performing the Vaughan Williams Tuba Concerto (details and tickets), the first really important tuba concerto, written only about 60 years ago. It’s part of the required repertoire for just about every orchestral audition. It’s a testament to the quality of this work that after many years of study and all the auditions I had to play to get here, I still enjoy playing it. In the past I’ve performed it with piano and in an arrangement for band, with my dad conducting, but never with the original orchestral score. I’m very excited to have the chance to perform it now with my own orchestra!

Steven Campbell

Principal Tuba Steven Campbell, a native of Texas, assumed his current post in fall 2005, after having performed with the Minnesota Orchestra on its 2004 European tour and in numerous subscription concerts. Inspired by his parents, who are both musicians, Campbell became interested in music at an early age; his first teacher was his father, also a tuba player. Read his full bio »