Gary Bordner
East Moline native Gary Bordner, who will guest as the solo trumpet player with the Quad-City Symphony Orchestra, has been principal trumpet of the St. Paul (Minn.) Symphony for more than 30 years. Contributed photo

There are two reasons trumpeter Gary Bordner is being drawn back home to solo with the Quad-City Symphony Orchestra.

One is for the East Moline native to see family (his mother still lives here) and friends from his home area. The other is an invitation he received from QCSO musical director Mark Russell Smith, who moves in several of the same circles as Bordner in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Smith is the director of new music projects for the St. Paul Symphony Orchestra, where Bordner has been principal trumpet since 1980. And Bordner is an affiliate faculty member in the music department at the University of Minnesota, where Smith is artistic director of orchestral studies.

"There's a special place in my heart for the Quad-City Symphony, and to be able to come home and play there seemed like a neat way to say thank you to a bunch of people," said Bordner, 57, who played with the QCSO during his final two years at Augustana College in Rock Island.

"I thought it's a great way to come down and play with the group that I started with," he added.

Bordner switched his major from music education to music performance during his sophomore year at Augie.

"I didn't know where it was going to take me, but I wanted to take it as far as I could and see wherever that went," he said.

The biggest concern for Bordner, who received his master's degree from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., was finding employment.

"When you go to music school and grad school, you wonder, ‘Is there going to be something for me when I get out of school?' And there was," he said. "It's a concern, it's a valid concern. When you work and work and something comes your way, there's an appreciation for it."

Succeeding takes an equal amount of talent and work ethic, he said.

"You have to decide to do it on your own. I don't think that a performing career works if someone else is prodding you to practice. It has to come from within," he said. "But if the passion is there and you're working and have some gifts in that area, that certainly helps."

In next weekend's QCSO concerts, Bordner will be playing Bach's "Cantata No. 51" and Hertel's "Concerto for Trumpet and Oboe." (The concert will be completed by Mozart's "Requiem," the first time it's been played by the symphony in its 96 years.)

Bordner will be playing both on a soprano piccolo trumpet, about half the size of a normal instrument.

Baroque music was written for a valveless trumpet, he said, and the piccolo trumpet comes closest to replicating that, although with a more subdued sound.

"If the listener is having a hard time telling which is the trumpet and which is the oboe, I think that's the ultimate compliment for me," Bordner said.