By Timothy Mangan, The Orange County Register, June 1, 2016.
GARDEN GROVE If you were anywhere near Chapman Avenue and Harbor Boulevard a little before 7 p.m. on Tuesday, and maybe even if you weren’t, you probably heard it.
A battalion of trumpet players had gathered behind the Hyatt Regency Orange County in an attempt to break the record for number of trumpeters playing a fanfare. When none other than Doc Sev erinsen gave the downbeat, the results weren’t subtle.
The event was the opening salvo of the International Trumpet Guild’s 41st annual conference, being held at the hotel through Saturday. Trumpeter Richard Birkemeier, chairman of the artist committee, is the man behind the record effort, and when he sent word out that Severinsen, the longtime bandleader on “The Tonight Show,” was going to conduct, musicians arrived in droves.
“Is there still music on the table?” Birkemeier asked the crowd of players as they picked up their parts for rehearsal in the Royal Ballroom. “No,” came the answer. Everyone would have to double up.
Severinsen, 88, baton in hand, showed up a few minutes later, dressed as Severinsen of old in a floral shirt, a checkered jacket and jeans.
“If you can live through the warm-up period, the rest of it is a piece of cake,” he said.
Asked what he would be looking for from the players, he quipped: “I think I’m going to look for the exit.”
The piece chosen was the “Olympic Fanfare” by John Williams, written for the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. Birkemeier discovered that the Guinness record for players of a trumpet fanfare was 105, and he figured that would be easy to beat. Only to make the record official, he said, he would have to pay Guinness $10,000, money he didn’t have.
“We’re going to break a record, not set a record,” he explained.
Players young and old, professional and amateur, stretched across the front of the ballroom for the rehearsal, several deep.
“I’m very hopeful that our performance this evening doesn’t signal the apocalypse,” Birkemeier told them, and then introduced Severinsen to cheers.
“Just use your ears, I’m not going to be much help to you,” Severinsen said, and gave the downbeat.
After a single ear-splitting rendition of the familiar tune, Severinsen pronounced himself satisfied and instructions were given to meet outside and to not play in the lobby. Someone counted the players as they exited the ballroom.
Out back, the musicians quickly deployed on the sidewalk, Severinsen with music stand in the driveway before them, hotel employees directing traffic as music blared. The performance that followed wouldn’t win any awards, but it was impressive nevertheless.
The final tally? 350 trumpeters had blown.
“Twice what I dreamed of,” Birkemeier said.