In another auspicious moment for a Redlands alumnus, Miles McAllister ’11 recently opened his inbox to find an invitation to be coveted by any musician—an offer to perform on the soundtrack to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
“I was super honored to be asked,” says McAllister, who plays trumpet with the Disneyland Band, an 18-piece marching band with choreography, and the Santa Barbara Symphony. “The studio scene is so hard to break into. You don’t just happen upon it. Somebody has to speak well of you and have enough faith to offer the recommendation.”
The recommendation had come from Jon Lewis, the symphony’s principal trumpet and a respected studio player, when another musician had been unable to make the last days of the recording.
That’s how McAllister found himself at Sony Studio’s historic Barbra Streisand Scoring Stage, surrounded by world-class players. Because the film was so high profile, McAllister was asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement that temporarily forbade him to tell anyone which movie he was working on. He saw the music for the first time when he arrived at the studio, and—while it may sound like the group had rehearsed for months—McAllister says it’s safe to assume they performed no more than five takes.
Music is often the last major component of production, since a composer needs to score music based on the final take of the film. So it was only a few weeks later that McAllister heard the finished product at a private screening with composer Michael Giacchino.
McAllister first picked up a trumpet in the fifth grade, and the Murrieta, Calif., native got serious about becoming a professional musician during his sophomore year in high school. At the University of Redlands, he focused on both trumpet performance and managerial studies, and McAllister calls the time he spent at Redlands “invaluable.”
“I got so many experiences that I never would have been part of if I had gone to a larger school,” he says. “I auditioned to be a student substitute for the Redlands Symphony [Orchestra], and I was able to do [almost]all of the programs I was offered over four years. I received four years of professional playing experience before I graduated, and I never would have had that elsewhere.”
His U of R trumpet teacher, Professor David Scott, took him under his wing, alerting McAllister to playing opportunities following graduation. “We try to open doors for students by educating them to first become the best musician they can,” says Scott. “At the same time, we raise awareness of what an entrepreneurial business music really is—to keep eyes, ears and mind open to its multiple avenues from teaching to performing, as a soloist or chamber musician or in a band or orchestra or whatever!”
After a few months, McAllister signed a contract with Carnival Cruise Lines and spent a year and a half playing the trumpet on ships bound for Mexico and the Caribbean. “I figured it was the perfect opportunity,” he says. “I was fresh out of college, didn’t have any ties and was single.”
That didn’t last long—McAllister met Cristina Duarte-Noe, a dancer on his boat, and the pair married in 2014. He then went back to school, earning his master’s in trumpet performance from California State University, Fullerton.
Since then, McAllister has played with the San Diego Symphony, Pacific Symphony, California Philharmonic and the prestigious American Youth Symphony. He is also a member of the Presidio Brass quintet, founded in 2006 by University of Redlands artist-teacher Scott Sutherland. Last year, the group spent 135 days on the road in 26 states, as well as performing shows and offering mentorship for local high school students.
With Rogue One under his belt, McAllister is hoping that gig is only the beginning of a career full of studio work.
“I got lucky,” he says. “That is an awesome credit for a first film. I don’t know when the next one will come along, but I hope to be prepared enough so when people take a chance on me, I can step up, and that leads to more things. That’s how my career has been up to this point—someone calls a no-name trumpet player and it turns out okay. I want them to keep calling.”
—Catherine Garcia ’06