ZACHARY  S.  PLOEGER

C o m p o s e r,   T r u m p e t e r,   C o n d u c t o r

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Trumpeter, Composer, and Conductor,  Zachary Ploeger is a promising up and coming musician. Starting piano lessons at the age of 6, Zach had an early start developing skills in the field of music. His interests switched to trumpet upon joining band as a fifth grader. Since then, trumpet has been a lifelong focus.  As a senior in high school, Zach began to experiment in composition, having his first piece for band played only months later under his baton. Zach, who is completing his fourth and final year, now studies trumpet performance, composition, and conducting at Western Michigan University, one of the nation’s premier public Schools of Music. Zachary’s primary teachers at Western are Scott Thornburg, trumpet, Dr. Richard Adams, composition, and Bruce Uchimura, orchestral conducting.


As a trumpeter, Zach has achieved a high level of acclaim. Most notably, playing in both Carnegie Hall and The John F. Kennedy Center, both before turning 18 years of age. His most recent accolade is being named first alternate for the International Trumpet Guild’s prestigious Solo Competition. Zach also was given the honor of being principal trumpet for the All-State Orchestra from the period of 2012 thru 2013, and the All-State Symphonic Band a year earlier. His trumpet playing has taken him all over the United States and Europe. Performing in Minneapolis, Kalamazoo, Orlando, New York, Washington D.C., Paris France, London England, Berlin Germany, Sofia Bulgaria and many more. Zach was appointed to the post of principal trumpet for the Kalamazoo Philharmonia, where he has served now for two seasons. They recently tackled the masterwork of Stravinsky, the “Rite of Spring,” and Shostakovich’s Eleventh Symphony. He also performed Telemann’s Concerto for piccolo trumpet on the prestigious “Showcase Spectacular” concert last fall, which showcases the diversity and talents of the WMU School of Music. He performed Neruda’s Concerto in Eb and Vivaldi’s Concerto for two trumpets with orchestra as the soloist with the Collegium Musicum. And most recently, performed as the soloist for the Fasch Trumpet concerto. Zach spent a month this summer at the highly competitive Bayview Music Festival where he played chamber music and as part of the orchestra. He frequently plays as a member of other chamber groups, performs on Area Recitals, and is set to give a full senior recital at the end of this academic year after the successful completion of his junior recital. Zachary has studied trumpet extensively with Scott Thornburg and John Colson. He is an active member of the ITG.


As a composer, Zach writes a wide range of works. Most notably, he has received recognition from the American Prize organization for four of his works, one in 2015 and three in 2016. “Proclamation” for trumpet and piano is also set to be premiered at the New Works Recital of the International Trumpet Guild this May in Hershey, PA, after being selected from a wide range of applicants. His pieces are frequently played on recitals and composers concerts at Western Michigan University and in the surrounding Midwest area. Zach was recently named a Minnesota Public Radio Finalist in their young composers contest. Last year, the Mivos String Quartet read a composition he wrote specifically for them. He also just finished writing a commission for the WMU Premiere Brass Quintet, who premiered the piece in late March 2015. Additionally, he just completed another brass quintet commission for the Russell Brown Brass Quintet, who will premiere the work in April 2017. The Western Michigan University Orchestra has also read works composed by Zach, including his “Daydreamer’s Fantasy.” And both the Symphonic Band and the Concert Band have read his works “Poem” and “First Suite for Band,” to great satisfaction. Frank Ticheli reviewed “Poem” during a master class last April and applauded the compositional risk taken and the overall effectiveness of the work. He has also taken lessons from distinguished composers Robert Carl and Eli Fieldsteel. Zach is also a published composer, having his pieces on the websites of both J.W. Pepper and Sons, as well as Sheet Music Plus. He also maintains a website where all of his pieces can be viewed, ordered, or heard. Zach has studied composition with Dr. Richard Adams and Dr. Lisa Coons and is a member of the Society of Composers Inc.


As an aspiring conductor, Zachary has already begun to mount success. He has been appointed as the conductor of the new Western Michigan University Brass Ensemble that recently finished its fourth concert cycle, all under his baton. They took on transcriptions of standards that include “Mahler 5” and “The Great Gate of Kiev from Pictures at an Exhibition.” As well as original works for the medium that include: “Fanfare for the Common Man,” “Fanfare from La Peri,” and the challenging “Symphony for Brass” composed by Gunther Schuller. Zach has also conducted the University Symphony Orchestra on multiple occasions, and is associate conductor of the University Campus Strings Orchestra. He has also been named the music director for the Calumet Players Annual Musical. They recently finished staging the famous, and now major blockbuster, “Into the Woods” last June. This summer Zach spent two weeks in Sofia Bulgaria attending the International Conductors Workshop and Festival where he conducted the “New Symphony Orchestra.” He is also preparing to conduct the theatre production of “Showboat” when the WMU theatre department stages the production this year. Zach also frequently conducts and rehearses his own compositions for live concert performances. Zachary has studied conducting with Dr. John Colson, and Bruce Uchimura. He is a member of the Conductors Guild.    

              - updated November 2016