Trombone student captures international win in Paris

contact: Cheryl Roland
| WMU News


KALAMAZOO--A Western Michigan University graduating senior has topped off his high-profile collegiate career by capturing first place in an international trombone soloist competition that concluded Saturday in Paris.

Eric Bowman of Portage, Mich., won the Frank Smith Trombone Solo Competition, the International Trombone Festival's classical trombone division for students to age 25. Competitors in the division are mostly master's and doctoral students. Bowman won the top slot over finalists from the Eastman School of Music and the University of New Mexico, and, in addition to winning the title in his division, Bowman won a trombone valued in excess of $4,000.

In Paris, Bowman was in the rare position of having earned a finalist slot in two soloist divisions at the festival. He also competed in the J.J. Johnson Jazz Trombone Competition for jazz players up to age 25, but was edged out in that event by a student from the Paris Conservatory. Bowman is believed to be the only student ever to qualify as a finalist in both the classical and jazz competitions during the same year.

A music and jazz studies major, Bowman is no stranger to winning prestigious competitions. In 2009, he won the Carl Fontana Jazz Trombone Competition during the International Trombone Festival held in Aarhus, Denmark. In 2010, he was a finalist in the National Jazz Solo Competition held in Washington, D.C.

Earlier this year, Bowman learned he has received a full tuition waiver to attend Florida's University of Miami, where he will pursue a master's degree in jazz studies.

Evan Clifton of Howell, Mich., and Kirsten Schaffert of Sanford, Mich., both WMU music students, were also in Paris competing as finalists in separate trombone divisions. The students were accompanied by Dr. Steve Wolfinbarger, WMU professor of music.

"WMU was 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 remarked when the three WMU trombonists qualified to compete. "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."

Eric Bowman

Bowman, who studied at WMU with Wolfinbarger and Dr. Scott Cowan, assistant professor of music, has a long history of performance with WMU bands, including the advanced jazz combo, jazz orchestra, symphony orchestra, symphonic band, trombone choir, Latin jazz ensemble and Gold Company. He often performs locally at New Year's Fest, Cancer Center Summerfest, weddings, corporate and church events, and at The Union Cabaret and Grille.

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