Stuart Laughton was born into a large, happy family and grew up happy. His father, a high school band teacher, would often bring instruments home for repair, and Stuart would open their cases and struggle to make sounds. Early on he bonded with the trumpet, because it was the loudest.
By age 19, and already principal trumpet of the Hamilton Philharmonic, Stuart was asked to join a brand-new group, Canadian Brass. He played with them for a year and then left to attend the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. (The Brass became super famous as soon as he left, and you can draw your own conclusions…)
Stuart graduated having already been appointed principal trumpet of Milan’s La Scala Opera, by Music Director Claudio Abbado. In Italy he found life thrilling and challenging in ways he could not have anticipated. He thinks now of his time spent in Italy as his Dickens period (“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”) but performing with the world’s leading conductors and singers is something he will always be grateful for.
Back in Canada, Stuart married Wendy Reiser, who for 7 years had been a solo dancer with Canada’s National Ballet. He was a stay-at-home dad to the 3 children as they arrived and while Wendy attended university and medical school. All this time, though, Stuart was thinking of a solo career, and what else he might do in music. In roughly chronological order, this was to include:
- Starting Opening Day Recordings and releasing 18 discs of Canadian music and musicians. Four of these releases were JUNO-nominated, plus one JUNO win.
- Forming a trumpet and organ duo, Laughton & O’Meara (which toured primarily in the USA over a 12-year period), as well as a trumpet and soprano duo, Laughton & Humphreys. The music of both groups was primarily Canadian.
- Performing as concerto soloist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Quebec’s Les Violons du Roy, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and Winnipeg Symphony.
- Becoming long-time concertmaster of the Hannaford Street Silver Band.
- Co-founding True North Brass, which brought a distinctive Canadian resonance to the brass quintet repertoire.
- Joining Toronto’s Esprit Orchestra, Canada’s leader in new orchestral music.
- Joining the board of R. Murray Schafer’s Patria Music/Theatre and serving two terms as president over a ten-year period.
- Re-joining Canadian Brass (after a 35-year absence!) and touring the world.
- Doing multiple performances of a work dedicated to him, THE FALCON’S TRUMPET; Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra by R. Murray Schafer (commissioned by the Esprit Orchestra)
- Founding Porkbelly Futures, a roots/rock band that released 3 CD’s of original material and toured coast to coast in Canada.
- Founding The Forest Festival in Ontario’s Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve and acting as its Artistic Director.
Which brings us to Radio Dial, which Stuart expects will consume his performing energies for the next 25 years.