Hail to The Rad Kids

Meet Trevor, a jazz musician with a French horn

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 11:45am

When was the last time you thought the French horn was cool? Well, Trevor Iltis is cool, so his dedication to the French horn puts the instrument in a whole new light. A senior this year at Camden Hills Regional High School, Trevor, 18, has been selected to be the Visual and Performing Arts “Student of the Month” for October. 

In fifth grade, when most kids are trying to master a simple wind instrument such as a recorder, Trevor took up the trumpet.

“My grandfather gave me a trumpet and I didn’t really know how to play it, but I wanted to try it,” he said.

One only has to look at his family to see where he might have gotten his passion for music. His mother is a pianist and an elementary music teacher and his father is an avid drummer and former recording engineer. His grandfather and uncle are avid French horn players, as well.

“When I was younger, my grandfather taught me some things on the French horn and my uncle, who teaches college level music classes on the French horn, gives me lessons whenever we get together,” he said.

Citing Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis as some of his musical influences, he explained, “Trumpet actually segues pretty well into French horn, as it takes more air and more piping involved.”

Trevor has played French horn in the CHRHS Concert Band for his entire high school tenure, as well as a trumpet in the Jazz Band. 

He has been in the District III Honors Band every year of high school, which one has to audition for.  During his sophomore year he participated in the All-State Band and last year performed with the All-State Orchestra.  He was also awarded “Outstanding Band Member” for the CHRHS Band during his sophomore year.

The day we met, it was a 65-degree Friday afternoon in October and he was able to get out of school an hour earlier than most everyone else due to the flexibility of a study period he was able to skip.

And though he loves music, he’s not just a one-note person when it comes to his interests. He was all fired up to go mountain biking that afternoon. Usually he rides with his mountain biking team, but he wanted to just go out for a solo ride. Besides that he’s also into running and weight training and downhill skiing.

Athleticism serves him well musically as he needs to expel a force of air from his diaphragm into the horn instruments and it takes effort can sustain that long, sonorous sound.

He’s a smart kid; you can just tell by talking to him. It’s not much of surprise to learn that Trevor is also in the National Honor Society, serves in a student-run Liberian Education Fund and volunteers in a community service club at school. A college application would describe that as “well rounded.” For Trevor, his days are full, but he can’t imagine not doing all of these things. “Music, sports and giving back to the community, that’s just what I like to do. I can’t imagine sitting around every day after school and doing nothing.”

Like a lot of seniors, he’s just finishing up college applications for a November 1 deadline and is looking at a college in Pennsylvania. He thinks he might study electrical engineering, but asked if he’d continue to play French horn once out of high school he said: “We’ll see. Music will always be part of my life, but I don’t l know what’s going to happen.”

That sounds about right for the jazz musician he is: Grounded in structure, Trevor is going to make it up as he goes.

Hail To The Rad Kids is an ongoing feature highlighting teens with artistic or musical talent. 

Kay Stephens can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com