When Barry Perkins puts a trumpet to his lips, instrument and man meld into one and the notes fill your soul.If that sounds like hyperbole, you haven’t heard Perkins play. Or more likely you have – you just didn’t know it.Those amazing trumpet notes soaring in the latest “Star Wars” smash movie “Rogue One”? That was Perkins. Same with “Star Wars VII, The Force Awakens.” Ditto with “Avatar.”But Perkins is much more than a Hollywood musician. He is principal trumpet for the Pacific Symphony, a former member of Mexico City’s symphony, and leader of the Barry Perkins Collective, a small group of musicians who play everything from classical to jazz.
Like his father before him, Perkins picked trumpet.By the time he was five, Perkins could play notes – not an easy thing on an instrument that demands near-perfect embouchure. To borrow from Chuck Berry — roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news: Classical is fine.But for the 21st century, “Star Wars” rules.PRO AT 20With a father who was a chemist and a lifelong musician, Perkins and his brother grew up learning to play the piano under dad’s tutelage as well as a second instrument of their choosing. Perkins’ brother choose the flute.
The crowd stirs in their seats, claps, giggles.Perkins holds his trumpet high and aims toward the corners of the grand concert auditorium. A quiet, clear sustained note casts a spell. As Perkins plays, there is no orchestra to accompany him, no lush visuals. There is only his trumpet. Yet most of all, this man who lives with his family in Murrieta is a teacher.Perkins shows us how something made of brass can have all the nuance, all the colors of the human voice.HOLLYWOOD HEAVENPerkins steps to the front of the stage and playfully teases the audience with a slice of “Star Wars” music.
But under Perkins’ musicianship, the visual hardly matters.The music alone offers a new hope.During a wide-ranging discussion at his home nestled between the Santa Ana mountains and Mount San Jacinto, Perkins chuckles about the dwindling popularity of classical music compared to the public’s love for anything Hollywood.“When I leave to play Mahler and Mozart, my kids just say, ‘Goodbye,’” Perkins laughs. “But when I say I’m going to play a ‘Star Wars’ score, they say, ‘Wow, Dad, that’s so cool.’” Many people in the audience don’t know or don’t remember the exact movie scene in “Episode IV”; it’s when Luke Skywalker walks toward the horizon as twin suns drop.