Before joining the Spokane Symphony in 2012, trumpeter Eric Moe held positions with the Colorado Symphony and the Denver Brass, sharing stages with jazz, classical and pop icons including Natalie Cole, Renée Fleming and the Supremes.
Moe has been playing professionally for more than 20 years, but his musical journey started much earlier during his childhood in Spokane. He grew up playing piano and listening to his mother sing while his father played his favorite songs at full volume on the record player.
Whether that meant Antonin Dvorak’s New World Symphony, Gustav Mahler’s fifth symphony, Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man or a medley of theme songs from Wild West TV shows, music of some kind was always in the air.
Moe first picked up a trumpet in the fifth grade and hasn’t put it down for long since. Moe went on to study music at Whitworth before heading to Arizona State University to complete his master’s in trumpet performance. “I’ve always just followed my interests and what gave me the most joy,” he said.
When he isn’t practicing, Moe enjoys running, walking (particularly over the suspension bridge in Riverfront Park), baking bread and listening to music by Nickel Creek, Chris Thile and Roy Hargrove.
In addition to playing with the symphony and the Spokane Brass Quintet (of which he is a founding member), Moe teaches private lessons and loves watching his students learn and fall in love with their instruments. One of his fondest teaching memories is of playing a duet with a young student.
“She stopped playing, and I couldn’t figure out why – we weren’t even at the hard part yet,” he said. “She had stopped because she started smiling and couldn’t stop.”
The past year has been difficult on teachers and students alike, he said. Virtual lessons became less about practicing and more about checking in on a personal level. But one student thrived. Unlike the other students, missing their bandmates, this student had only ever played on his own and for his own amusement.
Without the weight of that loss holding him back, his love for the instrument carried him through. “I think I need more of that,” Moe said. Between practicing, working multiple jobs and raising a family, building a career as a musician is never easy, Moe said.
“No one job will give you the amount of income or work that you need,” he said. “Those who make it gather work from lots of different sources like theater, church gigs and students. The pandemic dried up all that work, so many musicians are looking for income outside music or going back to school.”
But if you have “the joy of making music with someone else, and the love of making music by yourself,” it is worth the work, Moe said. And returning to the stage for the symphony’s Labor Day Concerts – Moe’s first after 18 months at home – just drove the point home further.
“I remember a friend looking around at rehearsal and saying, ‘I won’t take this for granted anymore,’ ” Moe said. “I think the audience felt that way, too. … We’ve all been reminded of how special a shared musical experience is, and we are hungry for it.”
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