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Passion and discipline: how Rex Richardson masters the trumpet

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Rex Richardson could not shake his cough all summer. No matter where he went—a residency in France, a jazz club in Austria, a festival in Spain—he wrestled with a respiratory ailment that was fighting for center stage. Not an ideal scenario for a trumpet player.

“After 25 years of touring, it’s the first time I’ve ever been sick overseas,” says Richardson.

Yet, he played on.

Richardson’s summer itinerary was packed—he couldn’t afford to bow out. In early May, he wrapped up final exams and boarded a flight to France the next day. By the end of the month he was in Vienna, Austria, for a weeklong engagement at the oldest jazz club in Europe: Jazzland.

“Then I was home for three weeks,” says Richardson. “I was very happy about that, because then I had to go to the Interlochen Trumpet Institute in Michigan.”

The rest of his summer saw him bouncing around Europe, from the Blekinge International Brass Academy in Karlskrona, Sweden, to a flurry of engagements as a featured soloist at Spanish, Italian and Finnish festivals. In August, he left Europe for one more festival in South Korea, only to return to Richmond just days before classes began.