Trumpeter Stephanie Richards keeps it bicoastal

Six-hour commute worth it, she says

Stephanie Richards: “I don’t play the notes I play because of my gender. I do play the notes I play because I’ve been treated differently."
  • Stephanie Richards: “I don’t play the notes I play because of my gender. I do play the notes I play because I’ve been treated differently."
  • photo by Andrew Munsey

“It’s kind of like living a double life,” says trumpeter Stephanie Richards, who arrived in San Diego two years ago to become an assistant professor of music at UCSD while still maintaining a Brooklyn residency. “I spent almost a decade in New York City, and I wasn’t ready to leave it, so I’ve invested the time and the money and the sleepless red-eye flights.... I really consider it to be a six-hour commute. So we kept our apartment in Brooklyn with a roommate, which allowed me to come back and forth and sleep in the same bed, go to the same coffee shop and grocery store.”

Richards spoke between gigs at the Loft and flying back to perform with Lou Reed: Drones at the New York Public Library.

“...I’m finding out how to make the most out of being in San Diego. UCSD is not run like a typical conservatory — it’s really a research lab for experimentation. Trumpet is really a peripheral aspect to what I do out there — I’m interested in movement and dance and improvisation.”

Richards says she is looking to impart something different to her classes.

“I want to encourage them to be composers, performers, maybe even set designers or dancers — to widen their definitions of their own practices.”

She says being a female trumpet player has presented her with challenges.

“There is a struggle we face,” she said. “I don’t play the notes I play because of my gender. I do play the notes I play because I’ve been treated differently. So there is an influence, but it’s complicated. I’ve been fortunate in my career to work with incredible colleagues that tend to be male who have treated me with dignity and respect. But for most of my life when I walk into a jam session, if I play well, it comes as a surprise. At first that’s a good feeling, but after a while, it wears thin. That’s a complexity that can be hard to deal with.”

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