Trombone student named finalist in two solo competitions

Contact: Mark Schwerin

KALAMAZOO--A Western Michigan University trombone student has won an unprecedented "finalist" designation in two separate solo competitions conducted by the International Trombone Association.

Photo of Eric


Eric Bowman, a senior trombone major from Portage, Mich., has just learned that he has been named a finalist in the J.J. Johnson Jazz Trombone Competition for jazz players up to age 25. The recognition comes after Bowman learned he was named a finalist in the Frank Smith Trombone Solo Competition, which also includes students to age 25--mostly master's and doctoral students.

"This is really outstanding," says one of Bowman's teachers, Dr. Steve Wolfinbarger, professor of music. "To the best of my knowledge, no other student has ever been recognized as a finalist in both the jazz and classical categories. So this is a real tribute to Eric."

The list of fellow finalists and alternates is impressive. Bowman will compete against students from the countries of France and the United Kingdom, with alternates and honorable mention recognitions to students from Berklee College of Music, The Paris Conservatory, New York University, The Juilliard School and the University of Illinois.

Bowman's latest feat is further testament to the accomplishments of trombone students in the WMU School of Music in the recent International Trombone Association solo competitions. In addition to Bowman, Kristen Schaffert was named a finalist in the Larry Wiehe International Solo Competition and Evan Clifton was designated a finalist in George Roberts International Solo Competition. Graduate students Erik Dancy and Nate Musch also were recognized, with Dancy awarded second alternate finalist and Musch receiving an honorable mention. High school senior Austin Muusse, also Wolfinbarger's student, also received an honorable mention.

"WMU is now represented by three trombone students as finalists in four of the international solo competitions, with three additional students being recognized as alternates or honorable mentions," Wolfinbarger says. "A former student who now studies at a major conservatory even mentioned that we're starting to get a reputation as being the 'killer trombone studio' out there."

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WMU trombone students hit high notes | Feb. 8, 2012
WMU trombone student captures international win in Paris | July 9, 2012