Spotlight on Riley Giampaolo

Bass trombonist Riley Giampaolo grew up outside the Houston area but was born in Mission Viejo, California into a musical family (his dad is a singer-songwriter).

Riley started his bachelor’s degree studies at the New England Conservatory, but won our audition before finishing. Here’s our interview:

Why did you pick trombone? 

I actually started on euphonium in seventh grade. But I wanted to play in the community jazz band with my sister so I bought myself a $65 trombone from a pawn shop and started teaching myself.

After practicing both instruments for a while, I asked my band director if I could switch to bass trombone and he gave me a big fat no. I spent about a week and a half after school practicing trombone right outside his office pointed at the door. Eventually he came out and told me I should switch.

There is a small-world connection in there as well.

Yeah, I played in the jazz band for years and only recently realized that it was run by [ISO flutist] Rebecca Price Arrensen’s brother!

What kind of trombone do you play?

I play an Edwards B454-E. It was my friend’s bass trombone and he wanted to sell it, so I tried it. I hated it initially, but tried it again a year later and loved it so I bought it. It’s really the only bass trombone I have ever owned.

Do you have a favorite piece of music right now?

Brahms Symphony No. 3. I don’t really have a lot of reasons. I just think it’s beautiful music, and I love listening to it.

What’s your favorite thing that has happened so far in the ISO?

The concert with John Williams was by far the coolest experience I’ve had here or anywhere for that matter. Getting the opportunity to play his music under his baton and feeling an energy from the audience I had never experienced before is an experience I’ll never forget.

Is there anything surprising about you that people should know?

I didn’t grow up listening to any classical music. Most of what was on in our house was classic rock and pop, which is still my favorite music to listen to. Because I was only exposed to classical music a little bit in high school and for only two years in college, most concerts I prepare for and perform are just as new to me as they may be to some of the audience.