Author: John-Thomas Burson

John Thomas Burson, Atlanta-based trumpeter and entrepreneur, has pursued his passion for music across a diversity of genres and arenas, including performances with the Georgia Symphony Orchestra, Georgia Brass Band, Harrower Opera Institute, and Spectacle Brass, of which he is a founding member. In 2014, he was the winner of the International Trumpet Guild Sonare Pro Brass Scholarship. Burson’s devotion to chamber music has been an integral part of the strategic expansion of Atlanta’s own Spectacle Brass. Over several years, the brass quintet has broken into the national scene, performing at Michigan’s Bay View Music Festival and alongside the Boston Brass during the 2013 Crested Butte Music Festival in Colorado. The group recently received an invitation to perform at the Georgia Music Educators Association In-Service Convention and was a finalist in the Calvin Smith Brass Quintet Competition in Knoxville, Tennessee. Committed to outreach, Spectacle Brass collaborated with a local high school to present the Suite from Leonard Bernstein’s Mass and presented a benefit program for Children’s Healthcare of Augusta, Georgia. During his study at Metro Atlanta’s Kennesaw State University, Burson studied with Thomas Hooten of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Karin Bliznik of the St. Louis Symphony, Michael Tiscione of the Atlanta Symphony, and Georgia Brass Band Solo Cornetist Dr. Douglas Lindsey. John Thomas has attended the Sewanee Summer Music Festival, the YMF Balmat National Orchestra Institute, the Bay View Music Festival, and the Boston Brass Summer Music Clinic at Western State Colorado University. For two consecutive years, he was selected as Principal Trumpet in the Georgia Music Educators Association All-College Band in Savannah, Georgia. He was also a finalist in the National Brass Symposium Orchestral Excerpts Competition. Performing in venues such as the Cobb Energy Centre, Gwinnett Performing Arts Centre, Bailey Performance Center, and Spivey Hall, Mr. Burson also teaches trumpet as an instructor at the West Georgia Arts Conservatory. With an interest in the new music scene, John Thomas is currently working on a project recording the brass chamber music of William Funk. He is also actively arranging music for brass quintet to present in collaboration with Spectacle Brass. Mr. Burson performs on Yamaha, Bach, and Schilke trumpets. For more information, please visit his website and blog,, or the website of Spectacle Brass, [2014]

Vincent Bach and the Modern Trumpet

I’m thrilled by the opportunity to present my research on Vincent Bach at the 2014 Undergraduate Research Presentations at Kennesaw State University. Please find my full paper below, followed by a copy of my Powerpoint presentation that I will present.  Vincent Bach and the Modern Trumpet Vincent Bach finds his place in music history as a figure who advanced his… Read more →

Upcoming Recital: “On The Edge,” May 3rd, 2014

Senior recital, spectacle brass, wildwood baptist church, Eric Ewazen, John Thomas Burson, trumpet, violin, horn, trombone, David Sampson, William Funk
Upcoming Senior Recital on May 3rd, 2014 at 2:00PM EST

Excited to announce the date of my senior recital! I’m thrilled to be collaborating with these incredible musicians, including: Jonathan UrizarKaren MartinChris OttsJustin BrookinsSteve ColemanJustin M Rowan, and Spectacle Brass! The performance will include a world premiere, a work for 2 trumpets and electronics, a haunting reflection on a T.S. Elliot work, and more– join us on May 3rd at 2:00PM at Wildwood Baptist Church in Acworth, GA!

To Include:

A World Premiere
Work for Trumpet and Electronics
Ewazen Trio for Trumpet, Violin, and Piano
Spectacle Brass
Steve Coleman

Featuring Special Guests:
Jonathan Urizar, Violin
Karen Martin, Soprano
Chris Otts, Saxophone
Justin Brookins, Viola

**To be live streamed via the web (watch this page for details)**

Learning from SIMPLE Observation

We’ve all heard a huge amount of technical lingo throughout our school and professional lives, but I often question how useful much of it is.  This video demonstrates many parts of brass playing: use of the tongue for articulation and range, position of the mouthpiece, width between the teeth, and probably three dozen other facets of the horn and trumpet you can read about.

Notice, now, how much we can learn just by watching this creative demo– WITHOUT words.  Hopefully, we’re EXPERIENCING left brain meeting right brain.  Music achieved as an experience and not an action.

Next time while practicing or teaching, consider how much you can teach without saying a word.

Robert Spano and Jeremy Denk: Beyond the Notes

Spectacle Brass playing for Atlanta Symphony Music Director Robert Spano. Photo Credit: Joseph Greenway Over the last several weeks, I have been incredibly blessed to experience masterclasses and performances by two of the greatest minds of our time: Robert Spano and Jeremy Denk.  During Denk’s lecture at the Bailey Center, he mentioned the importance of writing about what we do.… Read more →

The Power of Simplicity

This original composition by Thomas Gansch has such an infectious groove…it seems almost impossible not to FEEL the energy in EVERY note.  But think about when you are most captivated with this piece.  For me, it was only 30 seconds into the video, while Gansch is just starting to improvise on the melody.  WHY is this?  Perhaps Thomas finds as much beauty and MUSIC in a relatively simple melody as he does with flashes of technique– ALL of which, with Gansch anyway, is led by SAYING SOMETHING.

What if he “just played” the head and then got to the “good stuff” later on…I bet we wouldn’t feel the same way.  Food for thought next time we play a seemingly “simple,” “unimportant” line.  OR, better yet, how about next time we play a whole note?


Seeking to Define…Or Not.

“I do not compose, I assemble materials,” said Aaron Copland.  Fascinating, isn’t it?
Take a listen to this work for soprano and orchestra by the late Witold Lutosławski.  Some might call Lutosławski’s work this “assembly” of materials Copland was talking about.
We’ve all participated in conversations trying to define what music “really is.”  But one cannot define such a thing as music, because that’s exactly what music isn’t.  From Cage and Reich to David Lang, there is only one idea that has stuck for me.  Dr. Tom Gibson initiated this quest for meaning, and that is of music as metaphor.
Think about Copland’s Third Symphony for a moment.  Now, turn the Lutosławski back on for a few minutes.  Vastly different, right?  Or are they?
These composers speak to us in what we perceive to be very different languages, but both speak to us in ways that can only be achieved through music. Philosopher David Hume would have called this association of ideas.  This association of ideas is not so distant from the idea of music as metaphor.
Music completely relies on what Hume is talking about, working with the space between our inner selves and the entire universe.  Assembling materials is exactly right, but that’s just the beginning: that aural association is a mere initiation of the true music.
Next time we hear something and think, “That sounds ‘different,’” consider whether it’s the sound that is important.

Creative Failure

To experience a room completely glowing with creativity, skip over the CEO’s office and the boardroom at the illustrious software company– walk into a classroom where children are attending their first day of school.  The remarkable learning capacity of children has been demonstrated in countless studies, and the sheer amount of information one learns in merely a few years of… Read more →

Skip to toolbar