Kris Artonson, trumpet

Kris Artonson, trumpet

It was Demo Day at Charles Wakefield Cadman elementary school in San Diego and the traveling music teacher was in the auditorium. Kids could look at all the instruments and choose one to play. Nine-year-old Kris chose a trumpet.

No, it was not Professor Harold Hill and “The Think System.” Kris had actual public-school group lessons in elementary school and then private lessons through junior high and high school, playing in the school orchestra and marching band. He also joined the San Diego Junior Theater, playing in the musical, “Tom Sawyer.” “That was an eye-opening experience,” Kris says. “The music was handwritten and hard to read. And if I got lost I had to find my own way back.” But the experience served him well playing in musicals later in life.

After receiving a degree in Chemical Engineering from UC Santa Barbara (where he was, like many of us in college, too busy to play), Kris moved to Northern California to work in research & development at a bio-pharmaceutical firm. He develops medicine for rare diseases. “So rare even my doctor hasn’t heard of them! But it’s a gratifying field to be in.” Kris played a wide variety of music with the College of Marin Community Orchestra (a class there just as Prometheus is at Merritt College), including musical theater. But then life and kids and work happened and the trumpet went silent for about 20 years.

Until daughter Rachel Antonsen auditioned on violin in our Youth Concerto Competition. Although she didn’t win (if you were at our last concert you know how talented all the kids are and just how intense the competition is!) it inspired Kris to take up trumpet again. (In the interim he had start playing cello so he and his kids could play trios—“but I didn’t have enough time and skills to really master it.”)

“I realized my kids were playing music in a world that was familiar to me, and that I missed. I thought I’d try trumpet again and if I didn’t work, I’d put it away forever.” It worked! So he got a teacher and practiced for 6 months. He joined Prometheus for our November 2005 concert and has been playing ever since. “It’s interesting repertoire and I feel like this is my local group now. I realize that when I was younger I played but I didn’t really listen to music. Now I listen too.” And 12 years later, we’re certainly glad that trumpet worked!

~Joyce Vollmer

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