Sam Moffitt is only 24 but is already a big noise in the trumpet world. Now he’s returning to Portsmouth to play the Guildhall.
If only they knew. For decades the Fratton Park faithful have had to endure the braying bugle of John Anthony Portsmouth Football Club Westwood.
It bellows around the famous old ground, blown from the lips of Pompey’s most instantly-recognisable fan – by sight and sound.
But just across the stadium, in the lower section of the North Stand, sits another lifelong fan who could blow music into the ears of supporters if he chose.
However, Sam Moffitt would not dream of it.
For Pompey is his passion and trumpet-playing is the day job. Hours and hours a day, every day.
‘I tend to do it in the early hours and I do feel sorry for the neighbours. It can’t be very pleasant for them,’ he says.
Those hours of daily practice and decades of study have turned him into one of the hottest properties in the world of brass – from classical to jazz, funk to soul.
Now living in London, the 24-year-old was born and bred in Portsmouth and later this month will make a professional return to the city of his birth playing his first headlining gig at the Guildhall with the prestigious National Youth Jazz Orchestra, in which he was a deputy but yesterday was offered a permanent chair. In NYJO terms you are youthful until you hit 26.
‘I grew up with the Guildhall being THE place to play, so it will be wonderful to perform on that stage surrounded by the marvellous musicians of NYJO,’ says.
According to my mum, when I was two or three I would stand on a table at home and singSam Moffitt
But it will not be the first time he has graced that platform.
‘I did once play there at the mayor-making ceremony,’ Sam adds.
He was but a lad then, albeit a highly-talented one and not just with the trumpet.
The Moffitt family lived at North End and Southsea. ‘According to my mum, when I was two or three I would stand on a table at home and sing. Of course, I don’t remember a thing about that,’ he laughs.
His treble voice won him a place in the choir at Portsmouth’s Anglican cathedral.
But it was not just that voice with which he made music.
‘I started playing the piano when I was four and moved on to the trumpet when I was five or six,’ he recalls.
Had it been the usual child’s fascination with blowing something and making a loud noise which took him down that road?
It turns out it was little more than a bit of childhood rebelliousness.
‘My dad really encouraged me to play the piano. In fact he said he didn’t care what me and my sister played as long as they were not brass instruments – so I took up the trumpet and my sister the tuba!’
Sam’s schooldays were spent entirely at Portsmouth Grammar School where he played in the school orchestras, but was also flourishing with private tuition. Until his voice broke he continued to sing at the cathedral down the road from the Old Portsmouth school.
Then, when he was 17, his 11 years of trumpet playing finally paid off when he reached the 2010 final of the BBC’s Young Musician of the Year competition, the brass section.
‘It was a fantastic experience which helped me no end musically, but I also learned so much about television.
‘We seemed to spend more time getting the camera angles right, putting make-up on, and making sure my shirts would not strobe when they appeared on TV.’
But best of all, it got him noticed and he won the Best Classical Music category in The News 2010 Guide Awards.
‘In terms of publicity, some people started to recognise me,’ adds Sam.
But university beckoned in the shape of Brasenose College, Oxford, where, naturally, he studied music.
‘While I was there I was principal trumpet with the University Orchestra and lead trumpet with the University Big Band, as well as playing with funk and soul covers group Dott’s Funk Odyssey.’
He graduated in 2013 and moved to the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) in London. He graduated with distinction from his MA last year.
He played with the RAM Symphony Orchestra under Semyon Bychkov and Yan-Pascal Tortelier and the Concert Orchestra under Edward Gardner.
Sam adds: ‘I’ve got a keen interest in both modern and baroque trumpet playing. The baroque one is a trumpet without any valves which gives the sound a softer edge.’
He has also played with the English Philharmonia, Amadeus Orchestra and other UK orchestras as a guest principal or section player. He is also principal trumpet and founder of the chamber music band Pocket Music Ensemble. And then there’s the NYJO.
‘I love performing all genres, especially in large orchestras. To be in the middle of the fantastic sound an orchestra makes is something I don’t think I’ll ever get used to. It still sends shivers up my spine.’
It is being part of a big group, all striving for a common purpose, which fuels his passion for Pompey.
‘I’ve been a fan all my life and love being a part of that Fratton Park atmosphere. I had a season ticket for a long time.
‘I now live 20 minutes from Wembley and if we make the play-offs, which I think we will, I’ve just realised I might be seeing them there again at the end of the season.’
Sam Moffitt will appear with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra at the Guildhall, Portsmouth, on Friday, April 15. Tickets £10, concessions £5. Doors 7pm.