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Meet Douglas C. Carlsen

Meet Douglas C. Carlsen

Douglas C. Carlsen
Minnesota Orchestra member since: 1999
Associate Principal Trumpet 
Hometown: Blair, Nebraska
Arizona State University

What is currently on your music stand? At least half of my practice is working on fundamentals—sound, articulation, intonation, rhythm, time. Hard-core trumpet players may recognize the names: the Arban book, Stamp, Chichowitz, et cetera. The other half is music that I am preparing to perform, such as solo works or our orchestral repertoire. 

Do you come from a musical family? I grew up in Blair, Nebraska, where my father was my junior and senior high school choir director and my mother taught me piano, along with half of the kids in town. She also taught music in the Omaha public schools. Both of my sisters are also musicians. Janet sings professionally as a soloist with many orchestras and is a member of Conspirare in Austin, Texas. Barb is a fantastic singer, conducts church choir in Omaha and is a music teacher in Millard, Nebraska. I wouldn’t be where I am without each of them. 

Tell us about one of your favorite musical memories or proudest moments? There have been so many goosebumps moments playing with this orchestra over the last 20 years. One of my most memorable actually didn’t involve playing the trumpet. I was honored to perform on the shofar in 2008, on Stephen Paulus’ oratorio To Be Certain of the Dawn. The work was a commission—a gift to the Jewish community—by the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the freeing of Holocaust survivors. It is a remarkable work. 

What piece of music have you never played but would really love to perform? A lifetime of Bach’s works. 

Is there a musician you would love to perform with, but haven’t yet had the chance? Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter for one. I hope we engage Leonidas Kavakos again. He’s my favorite musician on the planet. There are also many conductors that I would love to have a chance to perform under: Valery Gergiev, Riccardo Muti and Simon Rattle just to name a few.  

Which upcoming concerts are you most excited about? Looking forward to the rest of the season, it is hard for me to choose a favorite concert. Prokofiev’s Cinderella Suite, Shostakovich’s Seventh, Mahler’s Ninth!  If I had to narrow it down, though, it would be Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade on April 2 through 4.  

Can you give us any insight about the upcoming international tour to South Korea and Vietnam? It is quite an honor for the Orchestra to be invited to perform in Hanoi marking the 25th anniversary of restored diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Vietnam. I’m most looking forward the interaction with the students in performances and side-by-side rehearsals. As we found out in Cuba and South Africa, those experiences do last a lifetime and my hope is the students will be inspired to do even greater things in their lives. Another highlight will be a performance at the soon to be completed Hong Suong Theatre in Hue. We will be the first orchestra to perform in this beautiful concert hall. 

If you didn’t play the trumpet, what instrument would you choose? I’ve always said that when I retire I can see myself taking lessons on the timpani. It would be fun to play in a civic band or orchestra if they’d have me. Sitting six feet from the timpani my whole career has given me a unique insight into this amazing instrument. 

What is your favorite Minnesotan meal? Hands down my favorite meal on the planet resides inside a large bowl of vegetarian pho at Quang in Minneapolis. 

What else should our audiences know about you? I am a diehard Nebraska football fan. I try to get back to Lincoln each year to catch a game in Memorial Stadium. I love to garden and noodle in the yard a lot as my neighbors would attest. I try to get in some golf, love to walk my dog, Koko, and find any excuse to drive around in my electric car. 

If you could share one fun fact with someone attending a Minnesota Orchestra concert, what would you say? As the associate principal trumpet player, I have a unique position. Half of the time I am sitting in the principal or first chair and the other half I am playing third chair. So, if you find yourself looking to the back row you might notice the four trumpet players doing a little bit of musical chairs depending on the piece we are performing. 

Read more about Douglas C. Carlsen.


  • This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
    This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
  • Official Airline of the Minnesota Orchestra
    Official Airline of the Minnesota Orchestra