Gentry Stoltzfus was born and raised in eastern Lancaster County in Leola, PA. His father was Lutheran and his mother Moravian. He grew up in a very musical family starting with his parents and grandfather on his mother’s side. His mother played the piano, french horn and oboe. His father played the trombone and the bass guitar. His grandfather played the trumpet and was also one of his biggest influences in music, playing coronet for the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra.
Stoltzfus was formally introduced to music in fourth grade; his grandfather showed him the coronet and helped him develop his musical skills. He showed that the trumpet is limitless through modeling how to play it. Stoltzfus reflects on how his grandfather was a critical teacher in terms of technique of the instrument and wants to emulate the work he did. He was inspired by Wynton Marsalis, Don Smither’s and Alison Balsom because they added style and colors that he wanted to add to his own music. Their interpretations of the music molds his performances. Stoltzfus claims that the natural beauty and pedigree of the instrument is what attracted him to the trumpet among family and educational influences.
Music and talent obviously runs in the Stoltzfus family. Gentry is a self-taught pianist and learned how to play Beethoven’s Fur Elise at age twelve, but he says, “he wouldn’t trade in his trumpet for anything.” As a music education major, Stoltzfus will be required to be able to teach other instruments, like the piano, cello, and violin. His favorite styles of music to play are Baroque, Classical, Southern Dixieland Jazz, 20th century composers, works by Herbert Clarke, Swing, B-bop, Renaissance and Arabic music.
John Yuerger, Stoltzfus’s classical trumpet instructor, was the first private teacher who was classically trained in double bass, tuba and the trumpet. Scott Siegel was the second private teacher that Stoltzfus studied under as a trumpet player. He taught Stoltzfus how to play jazz and improvisational styles. Stoltzfus was involved in jazz band, orchestra, wind ensemble and marching band and was also the recipient of the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award.
Stoltzfus chose Millersville University of Pennsylvania because he was passionate about music and teaching, and he felt that it would open up career opportunities for him. He feels that the professors here at Millersville University are highly qualified to teach.
He also mentioned the professors in the music department that affected him most.Stoltzfus talked about Dr. Vera Volchansky and how she interprets the sections of an orchestral piece. She organizes the piece in a way that she wants to have it performed and makes it understandable and easy to digest for her music students. He also reflects on Dr. Wiley, his private instructor on trumpet, who can take an idea from scat and play it back on his instrument, and how he is tactful in his style and technique which is evident in his style of musical pedagogy.
He joined the Duke Street Brass in January 2011. Along the course of his studies, Stoltzfus has been an Intercollegiate band member since 2013. The Brass quintet played at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia in a brass competition where he took 2nd place and had the opportunity to perform with the Rodney Mack Philadelphia Big Brass.
It was tough for Stoltzfus to narrow down his top picks for his desert island discs, laughing as he revealed his choices: Italian Concertos by Alison Balsom, Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, Franz Liszt Six Grande Etudes, and Chopin’s Nocturnes. Stoltzfus hopes to teach in a local school in the Lancaster County area, and desires to have his own private music studio. With any luck, Gentry Stoltzfus may just make his mark on the pages of music history.