Renowned throughout North America and beyond as one of the finest trumpet players of his generation, Paul Merkelo is recognized for his “pure technical prowess” (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle) as well as his “unusual lyrical gifts” (Gramophone). As solo trumpet with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, which he joined as Principal in 1995, Mr. Merkelo is regularly praised by the Montreal press as “a spectacular soloist … a most impressive master of his instrument,” (The Gazette) and as a “great virtuoso … dazzling” (La Presse). Mr. Merkelo has been featured frequently with the MSO, including tours to South America and Lincoln Center in New York.
On September 6th, Paul Merkelo will be featured on the Symphony’s opening night concert (Kent Nagano’s first as Music Director) in Galina Ultsvoskaya’s “Prayer” for trumpet, piano, voice and percussion. He will also perform the trumpet concerto by Henri Tomasi with the Symphony on October 4th. Engagements for 2007 include performances at the St. Barts Music Festival in late January, a US recital tour with Niklus Eklund (March 1-11) and the Romantic Trumpet Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia in June.
As soloist, Paul Merkelo has also been invited to perform with the National Arts Centre Orchestra (Ottawa); I Musici de Montréal; Les Violins de Roy (Quebec City); the Sapporo Philharmonic (Japan, with Charles Dutoit); the Thailand Philharmonic; and with the American Chamber Orchestra in France. In 1999, Paul Merkelo was appointed Canadian musical ambassador to China for the inauguration of the Montreal Park in Shanghai, where he was also featured soloist with the Shanghai Broadcast Orchestra in a national telecast. Mr. Merkelo made his New York debut at Lincoln Center with the New World Symphony Orchestra and Michael Tilson Thomas in 1998.
Mr. Merkelo’s first solo recording, “A Simple Song” was released by Amberola Records and was ranked #1 in Quebec’s classical recording chart for January 2000. In 2004, Analekta released a highly-praised second CD, “Baroque Transcriptions,” which was nominated by ADISQ for best solo classical CD of the year.
Three trumpet concertos have been written for and premiered by Paul Merkelo: works by David Liptak, Chair of the Eastman School Faculty of Music; Rudolf Haken, University of Illinois, and by Peter Paul Koprowski.
Previously, Paul Merkelo was Principal trumpet with the Rochester Philharmonic and New Orleans Symphony and gained early orchestral experience with the New York Philharmonic and Pittsburgh Symphony. In 1990, he worked with Leonard Bernstein at the Tanglewood Music Center. Born in Champaign, Illinois, Paul Merkelo attended the Eastman School of Music, where he won their concerto competition and was awarded the Speth scholarship for outstanding orchestral musician.
Mr. Merkelo is on the music faculty at McGill University and at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara. In collaboration with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, he has created a scholarship program open to contestants of the annual MSO competition, which awards aspiring young musicians financial aid for their pursuit of a musical career.