The lights of the recital hall slowly dim. The stage then lights up and draws attention to the unoccupied trumpet and piano. The vacant room quickly fills with excited music lovers, and the clock strikes 7:32 p.m. Eric Millard and his accompanist walk onto the stage. Silence falls upon the crowd. Both musicians give each other a reassuring head nod as they turn to their first musical selection. The piano starts, the trumpet follows and the magic soon began.
Dr. Eric Millard is the Visiting Instructor of Trumpet at UNC Charlotte. He received his Doctorate and Master’s Degree in Trumpet Performance from Florida State University and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Trumpet Performance from the University of Kentucky. Dr. Millard has performed with various groups, such as the Charlotte Symphony, Boise Philharmonic, Ballet Idaho, Pensacola Symphony, Sinfonia Gulf Coast, Northwest Florida Symphony and Albany Symphony. During his solo career, he has been awarded prizes at eminent competitions. For instance, the International Trumpet Guild Solo Competition, NTC, Music Teachers National Association Solo Competition and the U.S. Army Band National Collegiate Solo Competition. His students are known to be selected for honors and have won prestigious awards.
Millard has been playing the trumpet since the fourth grade. He was inspired to play a musical instrument by his older sister, a clarinet player. He described his journey to becoming a successful musician as almost an “obsession.” He stated that he puts 100% commitment into everything and remains driven to accomplish his goals to be the best. To become a triumphant teacher and soloist, it took hours practicing everyday. The weekends and holidays were no exception to this cardinal rule. Despite all of that, Millard views the process as doing what he is passionate about, which is music.
“To me, being a musician is about conveying an idea or connecting with the audience. A medicine for the soul. Music is our ability to connect with other human beings,” he said.
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte was blessed with a performance by Eric Millard, alongside pianist Amy Nungesser, on Sept. 25. It was a part of the Faculty and Friends Concert Series hosted by the Department of Music. The program consisted of four musical selections from varying time periods. The dynamic duo both gave breathtaking performances, leaving the audience speechless and astonished.
The concert started with Jean Hubeau’s “Sonate pour Trompette chromatique at Piano,” a three movement sonata with a Sarabande, an Intermède and a Spiritual. During the Sarabande, Millard demonstrated a tremendous control of sound. In the Intermède, he effortlessly showcased his ability to play in both the low ranges and high ranges. Each note had the perfect pitch and fullness to appease even the heavens above. The techniques displayed in the first two movements were combined together in the last movement. The Spiritual was hymn-like and a beautiful unison between the trumpet and piano.
The second selection was “Concerto in D Major (After Vivaldi), BWV 972,” by J.S. Bach (with arrangements by Alan Chen). It consisted of three movements: Allegro, Andante and Allegro assai. The Allegro was vibrant and played with liveliness. Dr. Millard easily played the 16th-note runs like a flash of lightning. The Andante displayed a relatively moderate, slow pace. Millard had an impeccable tone quality, ending with a perfect whispered note. The Allegro assai picked up the speed again and ended with a dynamic fortissimo note.
Astor Piazzolla’s “Adios Nonino” had a sad melodic essence with a taste of Argentinian Tango. The translation of the title means “Farewell,” a tribute to Piazzolla’s late father. Dr. Millard played with such passion and melancholy that you could almost feel it. He did an excellent job of conveying Piazzolla’s grief and nostalgia through his notes.
The last selection, and Millard’s personal favorite, was “Centennial Horizon” by Kevin McKee. Millard gave the following statement, “I think what is really effective about his music and what makes it fun for performers and audience is that he is trying to portray something that we can all relate to.” The piece itself was extremely lyrical and had a graceful tone that filled the room. The purpose was to convey a Colorado scenery through the music. McKee wanted the audience to experience the beauty of the nature: the mountains, the white water rivers and the aspen trees. It was through Millard that his mission was successful.
Dr. Eric Millard put on a remarkable performance. He was able to captivate each of the composers’ visions through his trumpet and played each selection exquisitely. The recital hall seemed to ring with beautiful sounds from the gates of the heavens. The audience gave a standing ovation as Millard walked off the stage. It was a great evening of good-quality music.