Travis Peterson did not get involved in music for recognition. That said, the world-class trumpeter cannot wait to perform for a hometown crowd.
The 2001 Milaca High School graduate will get that chance when he presents “Travis Peterson & Friends” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 1, at Milaca Evangelical Free Church.
And it’s all for a worthy cause as proceeds will go to the Milaca Scholarship Foundation’s Legacy Fund. The $20 ticket includes a dinner at 5 p.m.
Advance tickets are available at First National Bank of Milaca, Teal’s Market or through the Facebook event page.
“It’s going to be nerve-wracking to an extent, but I’m looking forward to it,” Peterson before a recent rehearsal with the Utah Symphony. “I say that with a smile on my face, but I’m super-excited about it. It’s going to be fun to have a homecoming and do a performance where I found inspiration in music. It’ll be so much fun to share what I’m up to now and share some different styles of music.”
Peterson credits his parents, Bobbi and Phil, who live on a farm west of Milaca, for getting him interested in music.
They’d listen to anything from Elton John to Cindy Lauper in the car. The soundtracks from movies such as “Amadeus,” the story of Mozart, along with musicals such as “Phantom of the Opera” fueled his interest.
Took interest early
He started taking piano lessons in third grade from Solveig Gerstenkorn and continued for 10 years. His grandmother had a coronet (a trumpet-like instrument) at her house, and whenever Peterson would visit, he’d pick it up to try and make a sound.
“It’s not easy to make a sound as a beginner because you’re buzzing your lips and it’s kind of weird,” Peterson said. “But then I got to fifth grade and my dad figured it’d be a good fit if I tried the trumpet.”
After high school, Peterson attended the Jacobs School of Music at the Indiana University before earning his graduate diploma in trumpet performance at New England Conservatory in Boston.
He lives in Salt Lake City and has played with the Utah Symphony for 6 1/2 years. The group performs about 150 times a year throughout Utah.
The Aug. 1 performance will include a piece from composer John Williams of “Star Wars” fame and a new twist on a number called “Shenandoah” that Peterson said people should recognize.
There also will be a few numbers from a brass quartet. The additional musicians consist of Peterson’s friends from around the area.
“I chose the program based off of stuff that I enjoy playing,” Peterson said. “I didn’t want to come in and play things are artistically hard to wrap your brain around. I enjoy playing things like that, and I do often, but I want my first time coming back to be fun for people to hear and fun for me to play.”
Milaca High School music instructor Andrew Nelson will serve as master of ceremonies for the concert. He said the community is in for a treat for the ears.
“Travis has visited the hometown band program and been an inspiration to a number of our youth,” Nelson said. “He is approachable and genuine. He speaks directly to them about the value of participating in high school music programs, … and it’s so neat to hear that his favorite part of high school was probably pep band — that’s the same as so many of our band kids.
“It means a lot to have him in the community. I always tell kids, ‘Think of the principal trumpet player in a major symphony orchestra as the quarterback of an NFL team.” That’s what Travis is. Except in the music world, you can’t ever throw an incompletion. You can’t ever miss a free throw. It’s just not OK, and you never hear that. That’s the level of player that Travis is.”
Peterson was inducted into the Milaca High School Hall of Fame last year. After learning more about the Legacy Fund, the idea came about to perform for his hometown.
“Travis is a very community-oriented person, and so after the Hall of Fame event, he was wondering what he can do to help,” said Amy Nord, a volunteer for the Milaca Scholarship Foundation. “He came up with the idea of sharing his talent with his community and got a group of world class musicians together to donate their time and talent, and they’re coming to Milaca to put on a great show. I think it’s going to be very special. I think it’s pretty amazing to have a group of musicians of this caliber coming here.”
Fund grew quickly
The MSF Legacy Fund came about in 2016 when an anonymous donor approached school officials offering to match $1 million if the foundation raised the same amount by February 2021.
Thanks to a $500,000 push from Dorothy and the late Benedict Gorecki, along with community donations, they reached the $1 million mark in February this year.
By meeting the goal so early, the foundation figured “Why stop there?”
“Once we hit that goal, we figured, well, we can do more,” said Nord, who also helps nonprofits with their business strategies.
The fund is currently at about $1.3 million with the stretch goal of $1.5 million. If the foundation reaches that mark, the donor will add $1.5 million, bringing the total endowment to $3 million.
“Once we get (to $3 million), we will draw scholarships forever, hopefully,” Nord said. “Before the campaign started, the foundation was giving out $65,000 to $85,000 per year. Once the match has been dispersed, we’ll be able to give out $220,000 per year in scholarships. And if we meet the stretch goal, that number will be bumped up.”