Massimo La Rosa
Interview with Music & Arts
Born in Palermo, Italy, Massimo La Rosa studied with Filippo Bonanno. He released two solo albums and is currently the principal trombone of The Cleveland Orchestra and the head of the trombone department at the Cleveland Institute of Music. The Bach artist shares his thoughts on instrument upgrades.
What inspired you to play music?
Passion for music was part of my family when I was growing up. Many of my relatives were playing in the local wind band in my hometown. I didn't choose to play; my father wanted me to play. I learned to like it, and now I cannot imagine my life without music.
When do you think is the right time for a student to consider upgrading their instrument?
Every student knows when something clicks in their brain - when they discover a new love for what they're doing. Buying a new instrument for a student is not like buying soccer shoes or a fishing pole. In those cases, if the passion vanishes in a couple of months, no one has lost a great deal of money. In the case of a new musical instrument, people want to be sure that the moment is right for making that big investment. I think that sometimes it's good to take that risk. I still remember when my parents bought me a new trombone - a Bach 42. It cost my father three times his salary. I was twelve years old, and knowing the significance of my father's investment made me very responsible and respectful of his sacrifice and the care he had for my future.
Often, we see students buy an upgraded instrument, without a better mouthpiece. What do you recommend?
My recommendation is that if you change from a small bore trombone to a large bore trombone, you must get a Bach 5G mouthpiece with a large shank. You can play your entire career on this mouthpiece.
Many students do not pursue music in college or as a professional. How can an upgraded instrument benefit a middle or high school student now?
I would like to say that to have an instrument with dents is not good, especially if dents are in the slide or in the curves. To have an instrument with bad lacquer can create allergies for the player. An instrument that is not clean inside is not good. Bach has a wonderful line of instruments for the young player. These instruments are affordable. Having an instrument of good quality, such as the Bach 42BO, will benefit the student's development and enjoyment of playing.
Many upgraded trombones include a trigger. What is the benefit of this, and do you recommend it for advancing students?
I definitely recommend the trigger. One benefit is that it helps develop a very homogenous range of tone. A trigger, among many options, gives you the opportunity to work on the low range, which is very good for the tone quality, for increasing breathing capacity and for developing legato playing. The trigger also provides more physical ease of playing. For example, without the trigger, one has to move the slide from B-flat in first position to B-natural in seventh position. But, with the trigger, you can play B-flat in first position and B-natural in second position - just a few inches instead of a couple of feet! And, the combinations for alternate positions are many!
You recently worked with Conn-Selmer to develop a new trombone - a "La Rosa" model. Could you tell us a little about the instrument?
It was a great pleasure to work with the fine craftsmen at Conn-Selmer. Together, we created a fantastic instrument. The model name is the A47-MLR, and we worked very hard to make sure that it's all about the Quality - with a capital "Q"! I have been using it full time in The Cleveland Orchestra and when I play concertos and recitals. It's a very versatile instrument. I recorded my most recent CD, Sempre Espressivo, on the A47-MLR. There are many great things to say about this trombone, but one particularly notable difference is the valve section. The air flows more smoothly, resulting in a more even, beautiful sound. In fact, many professionals and students all over the world have started playing this great new instrument.