Dr. Robert Sears enjoys an active career balancing his love of teaching and performing as both a classical and jazz musician. He joins the faculty at West Virginia University as the Assistant Professor of Trumpet. Robert previously held teaching positions at Millikin University, Illinois State University, Illinois Wesleyan University, and the University of Illinois Springfield.
Previous performance engagements include second trumpet in the Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra (2019-2020), member of Sycamore Brass (2018-2020), founding member of the Afro-Caribbean Jazz Collective and Iron Post Jazz Orchestra, and regular substitute with the Heartland Festival Orchestra, Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia da Camera Chamber Orchestra, and Urbana Pops Orchestra. Robert has been a soloist with Millikin University's Wind Ensemble (2019), Illinois Wesleyan University’s Wind Ensemble (2018), the University of Illinois Summer Band (2017 and 2016), and Brigham Young University-Idaho’s Symphony Band at the 2014 CBDNA conference in Reno, Nevada with the BYU-Idaho Faculty Brass Quintet. Robert was a member of the BYU-Idaho Faculty Brass Quintet from 2013-2014. Robert has also performed alongside jazz artists Chip Stephens, Glenn Wilson, Jeff Halsey, Mark Tonelli, Jim Pugh, John Clayton, Ernie Watts, and Doc Severinsen. In both 2019 and 2018, he was a featured soloist and clinician at Illinois Wesleyan University’s Jazz Festival, and in the summer of 2019 he arranged and recorded horn section parts for various EP releases with gospel, R&B, and soul artist Julius Adams. Robert can be heard on the Afro-Caribbean Jazz Collective’s debut EP (2019), and Indy rock, soul guitarist, and vocalist Dan Hubbard’s album Attention (2019). In 2018 he released with Transit Brass their debut album Soundscapes, where two of Robert’s original compositions Breathe and To the Stars were featured. Robert can also be heard on the CD Astral Canticle (2015) released under Nimbus Records with the University of Illinois Symphony Orchestra as co-principal and section trumpet.
Photo by Amber Hunter
In addition to performing and teaching, Robert is an avid composer and arranger, having studied jazz composition and arranging with Chip McNeill, former musical director for both Maynard Ferguson and Arturo Sandoval’s bands. Some of Robert's music can be purchased through his e-music publishing company Soundscape Music Press.
Robert’s research and dissertation Compositional Elements in the Music of Ken Schaphorst: A Detailed Analysis of Four Works for Jazz Ensemble highlights compositional components found in four original pieces by Ken Schaphorst: Jobim, Uprising, Mbira 2, and How to Say Goodbye. The analysis sheds light on extensive motivic and thematic development, the interpretation of sonata form in big band jazz composition, the mechanics of creating extended solo features, effective groove changes that aid development, unique voicings, and instrument pairing choices, and other innovative musical devices. This research aims to prove informative and useful for both the aspiring and seasoned composer and arranger.
Robert holds a B.M. in Music Education from Brigham Young University-Idaho, M.M. in Trumpet Performance and Literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and D.M.A. in Jazz Performance, with a cognate in Classical Performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His primary trumpet instructors include Tito Carrillo, Charles Daval, Ronald Romm, Dr. Ryan Nielsen, Dr. K. Newell Dayley and David Evans.