Meet our next musical staff member, Jon Linker!
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself – where are you from and how did you get involved in music?
Jon: I grew up in Minneapolis. Minnesota. When I was in 6th grade, a friend of mine started taking trumpet lessons with his uncle at a house just down the street from mine. It looked like fun so I decided to give it a try, never thinking it would amount to much. The way I saw it, my older brother, who is a professional piano player, was the real musician in the family. I picked things up pretty quickly, however, and played all through high school and in the marching band at the University of Wisconsin.
I still looked at music as more of a hobby, though, and after earning a journalism degree went to work as a sports reporter for a small Wisconsin newspaper. After a few years, I realized I really had the music bug and went back to school for trumpet performance at Northern Illinois University. While I was there, several of my friends ended up joining military bands and that was the first time I seriously considered that as a career.
“I auditioned and was accepted in the Air Force band program and spent the next 20 years performing and traveling all around the United States and Europe.”
I didn't know much about the military at the time, but the chance to get paid to play and travel was just too good to pass up – even if it meant surviving 7 weeks of basic training. I auditioned and was accepted in the Air Force band program and spent the next 20 years performing and traveling all around the United States and Europe.
Q: What is your role at Encore?
Jon: I'm a Program Consultant and I've worked at Encore for almost 3 years. In my role, I work with music directors to coordinate performance tours for their ensembles. I offer advice on tour options, craft itinerary proposals and customize each trip to fit the wants and needs of each ensemble.
Q: What type of musical activities are you involved in now?
Jon: Unfortunately, due to focal dystonia, I am no longer performing on trumpet. I still enjoy hearing music live, however, whether that's a concert by one of our client ensembles, a jazz combo or the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In addition, my daughter is in the 6th grad choir and my 4th grade son started clarinet lessons this year, so I enjoy using my musical knowledge to help them.
Q: How does being a musician help you plan Encore tours and work with music directors?
Jon: I think having 20+ years of experience doing performance tours myself is a great advantage in my current role. I understand what goes into a successful tour and can anticipate the needs of music ensembles because I've participated in and organized numerous performance tours myself!
“I understand what goes into a successful tour and can anticipate the needs of music ensembles because I've participated in and organized numerous performance tours myself!”
I think directors appreciate working with fellow musicians who value what they do and can speak the same language. It's also helpful having first-hand knowledge of many destinations where our ensembles travel, having visited or performed there myself.
Q: What is one of your favorite stories in working with music directors over the years?
Jon: At our recent Prelude conference, I had a conversation with one of my colleague's clients who is a music educator at a private high school in New York. He mentioned the challenges his jazz band was having with a Glenn Miller chart, which led to us commiserating about the tricky fingerings on the inner trumpet parts at the end of In the Mood. It was the kind of conversation only two musicians with similar backgrounds would have. And even though that was the first time we had met, we were able to make an immediate connection through music.