Joseph Alessi was appointed Principal Trombone of the New York Philharmonic, The Gurnee F. and Marjorie L. Hart Chair, in the spring of 1985. He began musical studies in his native California with his father, Joseph Alessi, Sr., as a high school student in San Rafael, California, and was a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony before continuing his musical training at the Curtis Institute of Music. Before joining the Philharmonic, Alessi was second trombone of The Philadelphia Orchestra for four seasons, and principal trombone of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra for one season. He has performed as guest principal trombonist with the London Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, led by Pierre Boulez.
Alessi is an active soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician. In April 1990 he made his New York Philharmonic solo debut, performing Creston’s Fantasy for Trombone, and in 1992 premiered Christopher Rouse’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Trombone Concerto with the Philharmonic, which commissioned the work for its 150th anniversary celebration. He performed the World Premiere of Melinda Wagner’s Trombone Concerto, conducted by Lorin Maazel in February 2007. In July 2013 he appeared with the Philharmonic as soloist in Bramwell Tovey’s The Lincoln Tunnel Cabaret for Trombone and Orchestra, written for Alessi, at Summertime Classics and at Bravo! Vail, both performances conducted by the composer. In June 2016 he gave the World Premiere of William Bolcom’s Trombone Concerto, a Philharmonic co-commission, conducted by then Music Director Alan Gilbert as part of the NY PHIL BIENNIAL; Alessi and the Philharmonic, led by Alan Gilbert, reprised the concerto in the 2016–17 season.
Alessi has been a guest soloist with the Lincoln, Colorado, Syracuse, Virginia, Alabama, Santa Barbara, Puerto Rico, Hartford, and South Dakota symphony orchestras; New Japan, Seoul, Hague, and Helsinki philharmonic orchestras; National Repertory Orchestra; Orchestra of Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania, Sicily; Mannheim National Theater Orchestra; and National Symphony of Taiwan. Alessi has also participated in numerous festivals, including the Festivale Musica di Camera in Protogruaro, Italy; Cabrillo Music Festival; Swiss Brass Week; and Lieksa Brass Week in Finland. He was featured in the 1997 International Trombone Festival in Feldkirch, Austria, and the International Meeting of Brass Instruments in Lille, France. He is a founding member of the Summit Brass ensemble at the Rafael Mendez Brass Institute in Tempe, Arizona. In 2002 Alessi was awarded an International Trombone Association Award for his contributions to the world of trombone music and trombone playing.
Joseph Alessi is currently on the faculty of The Juilliard School; his students now occupy posts with many major symphony orchestras in the U.S. and internationally. As a clinician for the Edwards Instrument Co., he has also given master classes throughout the world and has toured Europe extensively as a master teacher and recitalist. He has performed as soloist with several leading concert bands, including the U.S. Military Academy Band at West Point, U.S. Army Band (“Pershing’s Own”), and the U.S. Marine Band (“The President’s Own”).
Alessi’s discography includes many releases on the Summit record label, including Trombonastics and Fandango, with retired Philharmonic Principal Trumpet Philip Smith. He also recorded New York Legends on the Cala label, Return to Sorrento on the Naxos record label, and conductor/composer Bramwell Tovey’s Urban Cabaret. His live recording with the Philharmonic of Christopher Rouse’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Trombone Concerto, commissioned for the Orchestra’s 150th anniversary project, can be heard on Volume II of An American Celebration, on New York Philharmonic Special Editions, the Orchestra’s own recording label.
Alessi was invited by the International Trombone Association to record a solo disc of newly composed works, which was distributed to the Association’s membership of 5,000 trombonists in early 1999 and is now available as Beyond the End of the Century through Summit Records. His recording of George Crumb’s Starchild on the Bridge record label, featuring Alessi as soloist, won a Grammy Award for 1999–2000. Other recordings featuring Alessi are with the Canadian Brass (Sony Classical and Philips Records). Further information about Alessi can be found on his website, www.slidearea.com.