By Brian Powell
There was a lot riding on this one performance.
In October of last year, Class of 2012 Flinn Scholar Trevor Barroero participated in an audition for perhaps his only chance—at least for the foreseeable future—to return to the city and state he loved with the position he had desired for more than half his life.
Barroero was auditioning for the principal percussionist position with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. As an eighth-grade spectator at Tucson Music Hall, Barroero would imagine himself one day playing on that same stage. He had been married just a few months to a Tucson native and was eager to return to the area to be closer to family.
“This was the one job I always wanted when I was growing up, and it became very clear to me that this was the audition I really wanted,” Barroero said. “And another reason I wanted to be here in Tucson is to give back to the community and especially the arts and music education scene that I obviously benefited from.”
The audition was judged solely on sound. With no names or resumes before the judges, the three finalists played 26 excerpts for 35 minutes on 11 different instruments.
In the end, Barroero had no reason to be nervous. The Ironwood Ridge High School and University of Arizona graduate aced the audition and was offered his dream job.
His first concert with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra at the Linda Ronstadt Music Hall (formerly Tucson Music Hall) was in November 2022. He also has been performing at schools from Tucson to Nogales with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet and teaching percussion to youth and adults.
Barroero says he’s been enjoying the percussion-heavy music selected by the conductor, including the Latin-inspired pieces which feature his section.
“My favorite place to be is at the front of the stage, and the audience loves that too. They don’t get to see the percussion too often, so any opportunity to go to the front is a lot of fun,” Barroero said.
A lifetime love of music
In fourth grade growing up in Oro Valley, Barroero started playing his snare drum and drum set with hopes of being in a rock band. But his preference switched from rock and roll to orchestral music by middle school, by which time he was playing the marimba, xylophone, and glockenspiel and regularly attending symphony performances. To this day, Barroero has never stopped expanding the number of percussion instruments or objects to master.
Barroero graduated from the University of Arizona in 2017 with a Bachelor of Music in percussion performance. He graduated summa cum laude and was elected Outstanding Senior of the University of Arizona College of Fine Arts. He received his Master of Music and his Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Georgia. During his doctorate studies, he would practice 10 hours a day.
He owns a long and ever-growing list of accolades, including a gold medalist at 13 concerto competitions. In addition to his Tucson role, Barroero is second percussionist of the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra in Alabama. He previously was the adjunct professor of percussion at Anderson University in South Carolina and has performed with many orchestras around the United States, including one year as principal percussionist of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, where he shared stages with Andrea and Matteo Bocelli, Christina Aguilera, and Halle Bailey.
He is also a founding member of the percussion trio, Lineage Percussion. In May, Barroero will play with the two other members on stage with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. This summer, the trio will be heading to the Stellenbosch Festival in South Africa to teach and perform.
The Flinn Scholarship
The Flinn Scholarship, which Barroero was awarded in the spring of 2012, is valued at more than $130,000 and provides a full ride to an Arizona public university to 20 Arizona high-school seniors each year. The Flinn Scholars Class of 2023, the 38th class selected by the Phoenix-based Flinn Foundation, will be announced later this month.
As a Flinn Scholar, Barroero was able to study in China on a group seminar with the 2012 Scholars, attend symphony classes in Washington, D.C., and win a competition in Canada during summer experiences funded by the merit-based scholarship.
“Flinn was absolutely the right choice for my undergraduate experience. Growing up in Arizona, my initial thought was to get out of Arizona, but as soon as I got to Georgia I was always trying to get back to Arizona,” Barroero said. “The idea with the Flinn Scholarship is to have the Scholars enrich the state and settle down here, and I never thought it would work out for me.”
Barroero said since moving back to Tucson, he’s had fun reconnecting with the Flinn Scholars community, including having Scholars attend his first Tucson performance in November and The Nutcracker in December.
“I didn’t have friends or family attending concerts in Orlando. There were thousands of people in the audience, but when your friends or mom or wife isn’t there, it doesn’t make it quite as special,” Barroero said.
To contact Barroero or see his upcoming performance schedule, visit trevorbarroero.com.
April 22: Tucson International Mariachi Conference Espectacular Concert
May 12-13: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in Concert