Toys and Trumpets

A talented young musician, who still believes in Santa Claus, will be the featured soloist at two holiday pops concerts this week with the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra ( Eight-year-old Geoffrey Gallante plays a trumpet as well as musicians 5 times his age. Last year, Geoff had to cancel last year's performance with the NISO because he lost his two front teeth. He finally got his Christmas wish and now will perform in NISO concerts on Thursday, December 11 in Merrillville, IN and on Friday December 12 in Crystal Lake, IL. Maestro Kirk Muspratt will conduct the "Toys and Trumpets" concerts that include a mix of classic and contemporary holiday music, as well as a Chorus-led carol sing-along. Santa may stop by to play a duet with Geoff, who has performed with notable professional orchestras and legendary musicians since he was 5 years old. Last holiday season, the musical prodigy from Alexandria, Virginia was invited as guest soloist with 5 professional ensembles in 5 different states.

Geoffrey had just turned 4 when he picked up a trumpet for the first time. He was at his grandma's for Thanksgiving dinner, when he found his older brother's trumpet lying on a chair and asked 'What's this?" His mom told him what it was and showed him how to blow it; she had played trumpet herself for back in middle school. Geoffrey blew into it the way mom showed him and out came a big note and it immediately captured Geoff's imagination. He was so tiny at the time--and the trumpet so big in comparison--that he had to sit on the sofa and prop the bell end of the trumpet on his little feet stretched out in front of him!

Within a month, he was playing along to the melody of his favorite Children's gospel songs CD's. Soon after that he began lessons--after half-a-dozen trumpet teachers each told dad "four-year-olds can't play trumpet," "it's a waste of time and money," or some other discouraging remark. What did they know? After just 6 months of lessons -- still just 4 and not even in kindergarten yet-- he showed up at the Fairfax County Summer Band Camp. While the camp was geared for middle and high school students, Geoff auditioned and placed in the top 15 out of 15 trumpet players. He earned a spot in the most advanced ensemble, the symphonic band. When performance day came at the end of camp four weeks later, the Washington Post was there to capture the moment and a front page story appeared in the following morning's edition.

Since then Geoff has performed with: the U.S. Army Blues Jazz Ensemble on the steps of the U.S. CAPITOL; the Washington Symphonic Brass; jazz trumpet legend Maynard Ferguson; the U.S. Naval Academy Concert Band; the Duke Ellington Orchestra and Allentown (PA) Band, America's Oldest Civilian Band. He has played at the White House and the Kennedy Center. Geoff has also played with other trumpet luminaries Phil Driscoll, Arturo Sandoval, Hugh Masekela and Wynton Marsalis.

He has performed the "National Anthem" for about 400,000 sports fans in 14 professional sports venues across the country: 6 NBA arenas, 7 MLB stadiums and 1 NHL arena. About 30,000 fans at the championship game of the Little League World were treated to Geoff's anthem performance last August as well.

Geoff practices his trumpet every day for about an hour, and he is also a talented pianist. He started playing piano at about six years old, two years after beginning his trumpet career. He dutifully practices piano every day, usually combining his trumpet and piano practice, switching back and forth from one to the other.

Geoff has lots of other interests as well. He's a third grader who likes school, his teacher and schoolmates. His favorite subject? Recess! And he participates in after school activities including the running club and the chess club. He loves to swim, play Little League baseball, ride his bike and watch TV classics like Andy Griffith Show, Daniel Boone, F Troop, Get Smart, Superman, Simpsons and Flintstones. He also likes playing basketball, card games, reading, creating his own comic strips, writing stories, sword fights, gun fights, snowball fights, pillow fights, and wrestling. (He gets lots of experience at those activities since he has 6 brothers and sisters.


Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra

Thursday, December 11 at 7:30pm at the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, IN
Friday, December 12 at 8 pm at the Raue Center in Crystal Lake
Tickets are $10 to $60

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