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Lompoc Teen Trombonist Earns Top Honor At International Competition

Cabrillo High School senior, Santa Barbara Youth Symphony member wins contest for young trombonists in Spain during the summer

Cabrillo High School senior Connor Rowe won an international trombone competition in July in Spain. He is pictured here with his first instrument since his primary trombone is undergoing repairs.
Cabrillo High School senior Connor Rowe won an international trombone competition in July in Spain. He is pictured here with his first instrument since his primary trombone is undergoing repairs. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A Cabrillo High School senior landed on an international stage and walked away with top honors from trombonist competition held in Spain during the summer.

Connor Rowe of Lompoc won the Gilberto Gagliardi Tenor Trombone Competition in Valencia, Spain. The contest for trombonists age 18 and younger was one of several that took place as part of the 2015 International Trombone Festival held July 8-11 in Valencia. 

Rowe said he didn’t have nerves before the competition.

“I was really focused on what I had to do,” Rowe said.

That focus led to a first place win and earned the 17-year-old Lompoc resident a Schilke large-bore trombone for his performance.

“I felt really prepared,” he said. “I just focused on what I was going to do. The contest itself I was just focusing only on the music. That’s what I do to help cope with things.”

Rowe started playing trombone in the fifth grade. He has played with the All Valley Band and also belongs to the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony, one of several youth outreach programs offered by the Santa Barbara Symphony. 

“The Santa Barbara Youth Symphony has opened up a number of opportunities for me,” said Rowe, who joined the young musicians’ orchestra as a seventh-grader. 

As a result of his quick development as a Youth Symphony member, Rowe was invited to perform Porgy and Bess with the full Santa Barbara Symphony in May.

Cabrillo High senior Connor Rowe played with the Santa Barbara Symphony in May during the production of ‘Porgy and Bess.’ Click to view larger
Cabrillo High senior Connor Rowe played with the Santa Barbara Symphony in May during the production of ‘Porgy and Bess.’  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“The opportunity to play with the Santa Barbara Symphony last spring was tremendous,” he said.

“(Principal Trombonist) Andy Malloy worked with me, and helped me to adjust. I think the experience contributed to my focus and composure — qualities that definitely helped me in Spain.”

In addition to his musical endeavors, Rowe plays on the Conquistadores water polo team, a sport that actually enhances his trombone playing since both require great lung capacity, he said.

He formerly was involved in club swimming before diving into water polo as a freshman. 

When it was suggested that he sign up for international trombone competition, the son of Teresa and Manoel Rowe was intrigued. 

Now, he's hooked. He intends to try out for the 2016 competition in the next age group — “the big league,” he said. 

Rowe also hopes to keep music in his life long after he graduates from high school, and is applying for music-related college scholarships.

“I definitely want to pursue it,” he said, adding his dream job involves playing in a professional orchestra.

Symphony leaders are proud of their young trombonist’s big accomplishments.

“Connor personifies everything we hope to instill in each of the young musicians who take part in our educational programs: curiosity, determination, and a genuine love for music,” said Amy Williams, director of education and community engagement for the Santa Barbara Symphony.

“We are very proud of him, and expect more great things from him in the future.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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