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In the spotlight – Jazz Student Simon Lutgens

10 June 2024

Picture by: Frank Hirschhausen

We spoke to Simon Lutgens, second-year bachelor Jazz trumpet student who is involved in great projects alongside his studies at Conservatorium Maastricht. If you are curious, read on quickly. 

Would you like to tell us a bit more about yourself? 
I am 19 years old (14 June 2004) and I am currently at the end of my second year of the bachelor jazz trumpet at Conservatorium Maastricht. I have been playing trumpet since I was 9 years old and have had lessons for 7 years through the Amby Wind Band from various teachers, including Dave Vreuls. After taking lessons from Marc Huynen for two years, I was introduced to jazz and improvisation thanks to him. After completing my Havo(secondary education), I auditioned at Conservatorium Maastricht. There I was placed in the Jazz Preparatory Bachelor programme. So now I have been studying at the Conservatory for three years, and during this time I have been able to develop further as a trumpet player and musician. I expect to develop more skills in the next 2 years.

Why did you choose to study at Conservatorium Maastricht? 
Maastricht had two very big appealing factors for me. It is, of course, very close to home (I live in Meerssen), and as a 17-year-old, I was far from ready to go live on my own. The second and more important reason is that my previous teachers, Dave and Marc, also studied at Conservatorium Maastricht with Rob Bruynen as main subject teacher. Even my second trumpet teacher at Conservatorium Maastricht, Carlo Nardozza, was a student of Rob's. So, I felt from the start that I was in good hands and would get the guidance I needed to become a professional.

You are involved in great projects like the Jazz Orchestra of Het Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), and you have been selected for the Young Metropole Orchestra (as lead trumpet). Can you tell us a bit more about this? 
I got to play a concert with the JOC last April. I just kind of fell into it. They were playing a concert with the theme ‘Tribute to Chet Baker’ and were looking for a guest soloist. The request came to me via Irja Zeper, head of the jazz programme, and of course I said yes to this great opportunity. 

It was a fun experience to be on stage with this professional orchestra. I got a look behind the scenes and also got the chance to talk to some orchestra members, including trumpeters Ruud Breuls and Wim Both.

I auditioned for the Young Metropole at the end of February. Against my own expectations, I was placed as first trumpet. I can't talk much about it at the moment, as this project won't start until the end of July. We will have two project weeks: one in the summer and one in the autumn. In the first week of August, we will work on a Latin programme led by conductor Jacomo Bairos, and in November we will work on a varied programme led by Simon Dobson.

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Picture by: Jo Louppen

What is it like to be involved in these projects in addition to studying at Condervatorium Maastricht? 
I feel especially honored to be part of such great projects at my young age. It not only gives me a lot of hope for the future, but also a lot of motivation to keep studying hard, so that I will hopefully be offered more of these opportunities in the future. My teachers naturally support me in achieving and preparing for these projects and always stand behind me in everything I do, which I greatly appreciate.

What are your inspirations for the music you make? 
Right now, I am mainly still gaining a lot of experience with ensemble playing and different genres of music. I don't have my own project yet, but I want to compose and put together my own group in the near future. Besides the harmony and some big bands, I am involved in, I also play with the group ‘Elliot’, led by fellow student Jakob Lingen from Germany. We mainly play Jakob's own compositions, which offer an interesting mix of African rhythms, classical elements of Bach and also a touch of free jazz. After winning the Maastricht Jazz Award in March, in addition to nice prize money, we also got the opportunity to play at some jazz festivals, such as JazzOut or Motives for Jazz.

How do you envisage the future? 
My love for jazz originated in big band music. Before taking lessons in jazz, I always loved listening to an old New Cool Collective CD that my mother played in the car (an album called ‘More!’ from 1998). At 15, I started playing with Marc Huynen in the Vitzkids and soon after that, I also joined the big band of Kumulus, now the Big Basement Band, where, after a short period on 3rd trumpet, I have now had the opportunity to gain a lot of experience as a lead trumpet player for several years. I also had the opportunity to contribute to the final year of bigband Swing Design, which unfortunately gave its last concert last year. 

Finally, besides the occasional session job here and there, I now also play with great enthusiasm with the big band of Conservatorium Maastricht, where we come into contact with many different forms of big band music.
My dream for the future would be to be able to earn my money as a session player in professional big bands. I also get a lot of pleasure from playing with smaller ensembles and a more personal atmosphere. Playing music gives me the greatest satisfaction, but I would also enjoy composing, arranging or teaching if it turns out that it is difficult to earn enough money playing music. At the moment, I am not much into these aspects; I will think about them more by the time I finish my bachelor's degree. Maybe then I will consider a master's degree as well. Currently, I have enough to do for my studies and everything around it. What I will do in five years, I will see then.

We would like to express our thanks to Simon for being willing to share his story with us. We wish him all the best for the future and look forward to hearing more from him in the future.