Today we're introducing you to one of our newest members, trumpet player Elliot Vendel. Get to know him by reading our interview & giving his playlist a spin! 



What got you interested in CYO?

I was interested in CYO because my brother told me about it. That made me look it up and I saw all these amazing people that CYO played with, all the music that they play and it caught my eye. Contemporary pieces are something that I love to either play or listen to.

What does contemporary mean to you?

It doesn’t have to be orchestral, it has to be of a newer age, 15-20 years old. The majority of the music I listen to is technically contemporary.

Outside of CYO, what other musical things do you participate in?

Marching band, concert band and Star Dusters, which is our top jazz group. I am also in AYS.

Do you play anything else besides trumpet?

I dabble in piano.

What made you interested in piano?

I was in the fourth grade and I had a music teacher, Mrs. Swanson, who really caught my attention with music. She was one of my inspirations. The others were my dad, who played trumpet, and my mom. Mrs. Swanson mentioned a piano teacher in the local Medina area and we looked her up. I started taking lessons from her and I still am today.

If you could only take three albums with you to a deserted island, which three would you take?

I have to think about this. I listen to a lot of music! Steal this Album by System of a Down. The story about that is they had put out Toxicity and were starting to make Toxicity II, but people leaked it, so in response to that, they were like Steal This Album. Pearl Jam’s first album, Ten and then, Slipknot’s newest album, .5: The Gray Chapter.

So, you’re all over the place musically.

Yeah, I like alternative, metal, progressive metal, punk, hardcore punk. The way I judge music is not on how popular it is; it’s on how emotional and technical it is because I want to connect with the band in some way, shape or form. Pearl Jam, all of their backgrounds, Slipknot, seeing how each person has a knowledge of music theory and understands their instrument, I want to connect in some way that is more than just listening to them.

How do you think listening to those different genres impacts the way you approach your instrument?

I think all of them say, just do what you love and do not care about what people think of you. Even though it’s a competitive form, you are yourself, you are you and you don’t have to be somebody else. So I always have that idea that I don’t need to copy somebody’s playing. I should be inspired by them to make playing my trumpet my own.

You must be really excited about the Styx show then.

A bunch of the kids at my school have no idea who Styx is, but I'm really excited about this show. We have our band banquet for the end of marching band on the same day, where we give out awards and stuff, but I'm missing it for the show. I don't even care. This is more important. 

You said that you do jazz band, too. Are there any jazz trumpet players you really look up to or ones that aren’t around now that you would like to sit next to?

Wynton Marsalis. If I were to play flugelhorn, it’d be Chuck Mangione, though.

What would you tell someone that is afraid to take an audition?

I’d tell them to just do it because even if you don’t make it, you have the experience of an audition and you know what it’s like. If you do make it, good for you, keep going. Go for more auditions. Either way, keep going. Now you know what to work on to get better.

What’s a secret talent that most people don’t know you have?

I really enjoy creative writing and I’m pretty decent at it.

Who are your favorite writers?

I like a wide variety of things. I enjoy Art Spiegelman. He wrote Mouse, which is about World War II. I also enjoy real life stories, like You’re Making Me Hate You by Cory Taylor, who’s the lead singer of Slipknot. I really enjoyed that. Autobiographies by people, too. I like Steven King.

Elliot put together a playlist of ten of his favorite songs for you. Check them out here: