Trumpeter, French Horn player, keyboardist and arranger C.J. Camerieri performed a selection of his original pieces to a full audience of enthralled Lawrentians in Harper Hall on Monday, Jan. 27. Performing alongside him on the keyboard and French horn were two of his cohorts from college in New York.
Graduating with a degree in classical trumpet from The Julliard School in 2004, Camerieri has since become an acclaimed and indispensable addition to several indie rock groups. He first forayed into alternative music in 2006 by working with Sufjan Stevens, later going on to tour with Sean Lennon, Rufus Wainwright, Paul Simon and many other renowned artists. Camerieri received two Grammys, Best New Artist and Best Alternative Album, for his work on Bon Iver’s self-titled sophomore album in 2011 and also worked on Paul Simon’s two most recent records “Stranger to Stranger” and “In the Blue Light.” He has also recorded four records with the contemporary classic ensemble he founded called yMusic, whose debut album was named Classical Record of the Year by Time Out New York in 2011. Camerieri’s complete discography contains well over 200 recordings.
Among the selections Camerieri shared here at Lawrence were titles in progress, “Soft Night,” “Nowhere” and “Invisible Walls.” He explained that these new and experimental pieces are a product of him just trying new things out with his New York friends, indicating his vast skill set from composition to arrangement to improvisation. The contemporary pieces are full of eerie, echoing, electronic reverberations aided by sound effects to enhance the performance. The ringing, ascending notes of each piece range in mood from glittering and spacey to a pulsing, ambient, videogame-like sound growing in intensity and urgency with each beat.
Camerieri’s musical interests have always been diverse. In an interview with Stanley Curtis, Camerieri shared that his first trumpet teacher was his father, who was a middle school band director. He began lessons when he was in third grade, and eventually moved on to a few other teachers later in his career who all stressed to him the importance of well-rounded musicianship. Because of this, Camerieri says he has always been interested in a variety of genres, and upon graduating college played all kinds of gigs including Broadway, ragtime, orchestra, jazz, free improvisation, big band and contemporary classical chamber music.
Camerieri’s capacity for versatility has always served him well and is perhaps one of the many reasons for his success and popularity. His talent transverses all genres and even several different instruments, a flexibility that prepares him for virtually any type of gig. He has said his work with the French horn has significantly improved his trumpet skills and is also beneficial for his career considering the significant degree of flexibility allowed by the more easily blended instrument.
Camerieri’s dynamic and well-decorated career is a testament to the value of being well-rounded in one’s field, as well as the array of unexpected possibilities before us.