The Russian Connection featuring Paul Merkelo

Internationally-traveled, virtuoso trumpet player, Paul Merkelo will be featured during “The Russian Connection” symphony concert on Sunday, January 6, in Atascadero.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Greg Magie, Conductor of the Symphony of the Vines Orchestra.
Magie and Merkelo were college chums at the prestigious Eastman School of Music in New York.
“I met Paul when I was searching for a trumpet player for a brass quintet I managed,” Magie said. “Paul had just transferred from the University of Illinois and I invited him to join.” Over the next three years, the two horn players (Magie plays French horn) spent countless hours in rehearsal, performance, and competitions.
“He always impressed me with his tone, technique, and musicianship,” Magie remembers. “We all took our studies and craft seriously, but we could also relax and have fun as a group. Paul quickly excelled to the top ranks of the trumpet studio, and it was clear that he had a great future ahead of him in music.”
Paul Merkelo has been the Solo Trumpet of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra since 1995. He has played with orchestras throughout the United States, and extensively toured North and South America, Europe, Russia and Asia. He made his New York debut at Lincoln Center with the New World Symphony and Michael Tilson in 1998.
Paul Merkelo believes that his skills are earned not gifted. “When I was young, there were many things I was no good at, but I felt there was a bit of hope for playing the trumpet,” he explained. “I was never the most naturally gifted trumpet player, but I knew that was what I wanted to do as a career.”
Magie and Merkelo reconnected during the summer a couple of years back in Santa Barbara and began planning a concert with North County’s orchestra, Symphony of the Vines. “When we talked about repertoire, he suggested the Shostakovich Trumpet Concerto because he is going to Moscow later in January 2019 to record it with the Moscow Philharmonic,” Magie said. “Once we decided on a work by the Russian composer, Dmitri Shostakovich, I built a program around it.” The concert’s music focuses on the artists Shostakovich knew and studied with at the St. Petersburg
Conservatory; his teacher, Alexander Glazounov, and colleague, Sergei Prokofiev. That is why the concert is called “The Russian Connection.”
You can experience world-renowned trumpet player, Paul Merkelo, and the Symphony of the Vines Orchestra on Sunday, January 6, 3 pm, at the Atascadero Methodist Church, 11605 El Camino Real, Atascadero. Tickets are $15 – $30, and children K-12 are free with a paid adult thanks to a sponsorship from Jim and Carolyn Brescia. Tickets are available at the door or online at