Roger Blackburn was hired by Eugene Ormandy in 1974 to join the trumpet section of the Philadelphia Orchestra and remained there through the leadership of Riccardo Muti, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Christoph Eschenbach and Charles Dutoit doing yearly
tours worldwide. Other world renown maestros with whom he played in Philadelphia were Leopold Stokowski, Seiji Ozawa, Erich Leinsdorf, Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, Andre Kostelanetz, Erich Kunzel, Henry Mancini to name a few. He recorded numerous recordings with the Philadelphia Orchestra on the Columbia, RCA, Delos, London, and Ondine labels.
Birthplace: Parkersburg, West Virginia
Schools: Asbury College (KY), Westminster Choir College, Curtis Institute of Music B.M.1969
Previous orchestra membership: Israel Philharmonic (principal) 1970-72, Saint Louis Symphony (co-acting principal) 1972-73, Houston Symphony (associate principal) 1973-74
Outside interests: Collecting and restoring old audio recordings, singing, private teaching and chamber music
Noteworthy: Upon graduation from the Curtis Institute, won a Fulbright Scholarship to study trumpet with Helmut Wobisch at the Academy of Music in Vienna (1969-70).Has been a soloist with the Amerita Chamber Players, recorded with the Canadian Brass, performed with the Philadelphia Chamber Players, the Mozart Society, and the Glencairn Horns of Bryn Athyn. Roger founded the Philharmonic Flavor, a barbershop/brass quartet comprised of now-former Philadelphia Orchestra members: Glenn Dodson, Joseph Alessi, and Charles Vernon, as well as Four His Glory, a male gospel vocal quartet. Performed on two solo recordings, Barbershopping in Brass and Come Before His Presence with a Song; and sang on three recordings with Four His Glory. Also was included in Deutsche Gramophone's DVD set of complete orchestral works of Mahler conducted by maestro Leonard Bernstein as principal trumpet on Das Lied von der Erde with Israel Philharmonic. Has been an adjunct professor of trumpet at Temple University for many years and taught many private lessons at home.
Favorite thing about performing orchestral music: the challenge to find how to best fit in with the musical environment
Most memorable moment with the Orchestra: my first season when we opened a PBS Broadcast with a most convincing performance of Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man under Eugene Ormandy
Best thing about being a Philadelphia Orchestra musician: experiencing the appreciative cheering on our worldwide tours
If you could play another instrument it would be: piano, because the range and beautiful tone is always there
If I weren’t a professional musician I would be: a recording engineer
Earliest musical memory: the inspired congregational singing at my home church in Parkersburg, WV
Favorite composer: Johannes Brahms
Favorite recording: different versions of the Verdi Requiem
My most challenging orchestral piece for trumpet: Aaron Copland's Symphony No. 3