SUMMERSIDE — Dylan Rook Maddix is heading West, trumpet a-blazing.
The 23-year-old will travel to Kelowna, B.C., next week, along with Islanders Rebecca Apps and Lucas MacPhail to compete at the National Music Festival.
It’s his second time competing in the prestigious event, placing third in 2011.
This time, Maddix is ready to win.
“I am going back with a vengeance,” said the Summerside native. “I told myself I wasn’t going to go back unless I knew I could get first. This is the year.”
Each province can send a representative in one of nine solo music disciplines, chosen by adjudicators in the provincial competition, to the National Music Festival.
This year, there are about 56 solo entries, including Maddix, Apps and MacPhail.
Apps is a soprano and is about to enter her final year as a vocal performance major, while MacPhail, of Warren Grove, plays alto saxophone and is entering his third year of the bachelor of music program at UPEI.
Maddix will represent the Island in the brass category.
Born with a heart condition that prevented him from playing sports, Maddix turned to music as an outlet, his way of getting involved at school.
He began playing trumpet at Summerside Intermediate School, under the tutelage of that school’s music program director, Peter Gallant.
“There was deep reason as to why I picked it up. It was shiny,” he said with a laugh.
Not coming from a musical family, Maddix was uncertain of his path with music.
That was until he had the rare chance, while still at SIS, to conduct.
“There was something there that I wanted to do,” he said.
And when he failed, in Grade 9, to secure a coveted spot in the P.E.I. Honours Band, his drive to succeed grew, resulting in him winning, at the end of the year, his school’s big music award.
“That was when I knew I wanted to study trumpet.”
A recent graduate of Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.S., Maddix has a bachelor in music and is pursuing his masters in trumpet performance this fall at the University of Toronto.
Maddix admitted going into his first National Music Festival with a ‘big-fish’ mentality — at the top of his game in the smaller ‘pond’, being the Maritime Region — ended up being an eye-opening experience.
“You go to these national events and you’re like, I can win it, but then you meet all the musicians. It was very humbling,” he added. “You need to do go these things because you will never be the biggest fish. There are always bigger fish.
“That was the most important thing that came out of it for me, was that I am not the best and I have so much more work to do.”
Since 2011, Maddix has gained more experience performing.
He’s currently a member of Confederation Brass and has held the position of principal trumpet and trumpet coach of the award winning New Brunswick Youth Orchestra since 2012.
Maddix has been a featured soloist with the Greater Moncton Chorale and Orchestra, the P.E.I. Symphony Orchestra and has performed with the Mount Allison University Symphonic Band.
Maddix has also become a 'unpaid' teacher, travelling across the Island earlier this year, holding workshops at various schools, including his alma mater, Three Oaks Senior High School.
“Three Oaks is the most responsive and my favourite place to play,” said Maddix. “I try to encourage any of my students. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can teach. Even though I am only 23, the little knowledge I do have, I try to pass it on.”
He was quick to point out that his first student, Blair Guptill, is entering Mount Allison in the fall to study trumpet.
“The spark I lit is going on to be a flame. That’s cool.”
It’s youngsters like Guptill who Maddix will be up against next week in August.
He will be the oldest brass performer competing.
Team P.E.I. 2014, as the Island trio calls themselves, leaves for B.C. on Aug. 12, will have the following day to rehearse, and competes on Aug. 14.
Maddix will be the first Islander to perform and the first brass player to compete.
“I am going to get it over with and celebrate after, hopefully.”
He plans to add some flair to his performance, just to get the audience’s attention and, hopefully, that of the adjudicators.
Maddix will jazz up his ensemble, something he has become known for in recent years, with bright colours, and what he called an “ugly” shirt.
His game plan has changed since his first try at the nationals.
“I am going back a little wiser,” added Maddix. “I also realize that there are still many younger brass players that are much more accomplished than I.
“I am going in with the idea that I want this and I am going to, hopefully, get it.”
To follow Maddix at the nationals, visit his Twitter account — @dylanrookmaddix — or his website, www.dylanmaddixmusic.com.
The Island trio is also fundraising for the expensive trip. Donations can be made at https://www.idiegogo.com/projects/team-pei-fcmf-2014-national-music-festival?sa=0&sp=0.