Catching Up with FONT Music 2015 Artist & Curator: C.J. Camerieri

CJ 2C.J. Camerieri has been a staple in the FONT Music cast of characters (er… trumpeters) since its inception.  Over the past decade, C.J. has been developing a career that defies stylistic definition – we love these kind of musicians here at FONT Music.  Graduating Juilliard, playing with Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens, forming a contemporary classical (you can’t really call it that) group yMusic and recently recording with Ben Folds.  What’s next?!

We’re very lucky to have him this year curating and performing at our Opening Concert at Rockwood Music Hall on September 24th on a program we have titled “Without A Frame” (Buy tickets here).  We hope you can join us for that, but check out what C.J. has to say today as we sit down with him for a few questions.


C.J. thanks for chatting with us today.  You’ve been a foundational member of FONT Music over the years, right?

I’ve been lucky enough over the years to play with FONT Music since (maybe) the very beginning.  The first time I played on a FONT Music concert was at Tonic which has sadly been closed since 2007.  Since then I’ve played with a variety of groups including Butch Morris, the New York Trumpet Ensemble, and with my group yMusic.  A few years ago FONT Music commissioned the great composer Andrew Norman to write a piece for yMusic and it was a huge success.  The piece was the featured single off of our last record “Balance Problems” and has been met with much critical acclaim.  This year FONT Music has commissioned Mick Rossi to write a piece for us and I’m excited to start learning that new work in the coming weeks.  I am very grateful for FONT Music and feel lucky to be a part of this community.

I think the luck is ours, or at least mutual!  Thanks for all you’ve done over the years.  You’re a pretty unique player and all over the map stylistically (I mean this in a great way!).  How did you get to where you are today?

CJ w Bon Iver

CJ Playing keyboard and trumpet with Bon Iver

I graduated from Juilliard in 2004 and was trying to do a little bit of everything.  I played with orchestras, broadway shows, jazz, free jazz, studying harmony/arranging and was really happy but a bit musically unfulfilled.  I found myself searching for a musical scene that would allow me to play a variety of styles, to improvise but also play technically challenging material, to play other instruments (I also play the French Horn and piano) and get a chance to shape the music through arrangements and my own creative ideas.  I also wanted to be on bigger stages playing for more people!  I was lucky enough to find that scene in alternative music.  I started playing in 2006 with Sufjan Stevens and immediately joined his band as a featured soloist.  I then began touring with bands such as The National, Rufus Wainwright, The Plastic Ono Band, Angus and Julia Stone, Martha Wainwright, My Brightest Diamond, Gabriel Kahane, and many other artists.  I joined Bon Iver in 2011 and won two grammy’s for the band’s sophomore record in the same year that my group yMusic released it’s debut record which was named Time Out New York’s Number 1 classical record.  Since then I have become a member of Paul Simon’s band, toured and played with Sting, and played on over 200 recordings total in the last ten years.

Dang!  You’re a busy guy and playing with some the best musicians from so many different styles – that’s what we’re all about here at FONT Music, as you know.  So yMusic will be playing at Rockwood for our opening night – what is up with yMusic these days?

cj ymusic ben folds

yMusic with Ben Folds

yMusic is a lot of my musical focus these days.  We are releasing a record this fall with Ben Fold’s that I co-produced/arranged called “So There” and will tour that a bit.  yMusic is in residency at New York Live Arts and we have  a number of exciting commissions we’ll be premiering there including a performance with Bill T. Jones.

That all sounds awesome!  What else can we expect to see you doing coming up?

I’ve been recording a bunch with Paul Simon, Jose Gonzalez, The Tallest Man on Earth, and many other exciting artists and hope to get back into the studio with yMusic in early 2017 to get started on our 3rd record.

So you’re curating our opening night at Rockwood Music Hall with Stephanie Richards called “Without A Frame”.  We recently chatted with Brandon Ridenour (see article here) who will be playing at that concert with his group FOUNDERS.  yMusic will be playing and so will Asphalt Orchestra.  It looks to be an amazing evening!  Give us some insight into how you got to curating this evening.

CJ 1When I was asked to curate an “indie classical” concert at FONT Music this year my initial reaction was to not do it!  I think that the classical trumpet repertoire is in my opinion probably one of the worst collections of pieces in existence and I just don’t know why!  So many other instruments have so many great pieces but I’ve always found our repertoire extremely lacking.  I don’t want to go to a concert and hear the Hadyn Trumpet Concerto or the Arutunian ever again (isn’t that what college is for)?  That’s just my opinion.  I started to look around though and there is so much interesting music happening in the trumpet world right now that has a strong classical backbone yet is hard to put a label on.  I wanted to put together a night that featured these kinds of classical trumpet centered ensembles/performers that are really pushing the boundaries of what we call classical music.  I think it should be a fun night.

Totally agree – we can’t wait to check out this amazing night of music.  Thanks again C.J., we’ll see you next week!

Buy your ticket to our FONT Music 2015 Opening Concert “WITHOUT A FRAME” on Sept 24th (8:30pm) @ Rockwood Music Hall here!!

More info on C.J.: As a trumpet player, french hornist, arranger, and keyboard player, C.J. Camerieri has enjoyed an active, diverse, and exciting career since completing his classical trumpet training at Juilliard in 2004. He has become an indispensable collaborator for numerous indie rock groups as a performer, arranger, improviser, and soloist and is a co-founder of the contemporary classical ensemble yMusic. yMusic’s debut record was named Time Out New York’s #1 Classical Record of 2011, the same year that Camerieri won two Grammys as a member of Bon Iver for the band’s sophomore record, which later reached gold status. He is currently the newest member of Paul Simon’s band, joining for 2014’s “Paul Simon and Sting: On Stage Together” tour.

CJ began working in alternative music as the trumpet player and keyboard player for Sufjan Stevens in January of 2006.  He then went on to tour the world as a member of Rufus Wainwright’s band in 2007-2008 before starting yMusic with Rob Moose in the spring of 2008 and later joining Bon Iver in 2011 while also touring with the Plastic Ono Band and The National.  In 2014 CJ became the newest member of Paul Simon’s touring band.

As an arranger, trumpet player, french horn player, and keyboardist C.J.’s discography includes well over 200 recordings including current and forthcoming releases by Paul Simon, Bon Iver, yMusic, Sufjan Stevens, Rufus Wainwright, The Tallest Man on Earth, David Byrne, Antony and the Johnsons, Martha Wainwright, Loudon Wainwright III, Aero Flynn, Gabriel Kahane, The National, Angus and Julia Stone, Ingrid Michaelson, The Staves, My Brightest Diamond, Sean Lennon, Yuka Honda, GOASTT, Jesse Harris, She and Him, Harper Simon, Chris Garneau, Clare and the Reasons, Welcome Wagon, Anthony Coleman, ACME, The New York Trumpet Ensemble, Argento New Music Ensemble and the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra.

Check out this great video interview with C.J.: 

Here’s ymusic’s website: http://ymusicensemble.com
Here’s C.J.’s website: http://www.cjtrumpet.com