On Stage


The trumpet call

Dan Ross finds balance in the arts

By Michele DeVinney
Having grown up with a father and an uncle who both played the trumpet, Dan Ross was understandably drawn to the instrument and had ready opportunities to test his skills. He began to pursue it more seriously in fifth grade, and by the age of 17, he was already subbing with the Indianapolis Symphony and continued to do so as he studied at Indiana University. Although he was a seasoned pro before his 20th birthday, music had not originally been his professional plan.

“I had always thought from the age of 7 that I wanted to be an architect. I just knew that was what I was going to do. But when I was 14 I had the realization that I was going to play trumpet for a symphony orchestra,” he said.

That epiphany has led to a musical career that has now lasted more than three decades. With his ongoing relationship with the Indianapolis Symphony, Ross continued to look for full-time positions and ultimately found one with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic in 1983. Such positions are rare and can often take years to earn — if they happen at all.

“I felt very fortunate to have found a job with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. I auditioned with five or six orchestras and had been finalists with all of them before finding the job here. But there are only five or six jobs for trumpets in orchestras every year, so you always have to feel fortunate when you find one.”

Ross has balanced his musical career with an administrative one, having served in various capacities, including interim executive director, with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. Currently director of community development with Arts United, he has been able to bridge the two worlds seamlessly from the start, thanks in part to Arts United Executive Director Jim Sparrow.

“Jim knew I played with the Philharmonic and has been very kind and flexible about it, understanding that that’s part of what I do. I’m still a full-time member of the orchestra, which is a 36-week season with three or four rehearsals a week, two or three performances a week. But I see my role at the Philharmonic as a perfect complement to my role at Arts United.”

Along with juggling two busy careers, Ross also finds time for his family. Wife Anna, herself a musician, is managing director at Fort Wayne Ballet, just around the corner from his office at the Auer Center for Arts & Culture. He has one grown son and a young son, Nate, who is already trying out both music and ballet. Finding balance has been key to his success, and he feels strongly that it has made him better at all of his endeavors.

“My role at Arts United is to talk with the community about the importance of arts and culture in Fort Wayne, and I think when I can tell them that I get to play this incredible music, with these talented musicians, under an amazing conductor, I think it just adds to what I can share with them about the role of the arts in this city.”

Posted: Thu, 04/26/2012 - 9:59 am
Last updated: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 3:10 pm