Andrew Pelletier was a sixth-grader when he first heard the French horn. And fell in love.

Thirty years later he’s a Grammy Award-winning musician, popular teacher and sought after performer who can be playing chamber music with an acclaimed orchestra one minute and making a soundtrack for a made-for-TV sci-fi movie the next. As if that wasn’t enough, the University of Southern Maine alum has recorded his own album.

And it all started in Lewiston.

Name: Andrew Pelletier

Age: 40

Married/single/relationship: Single

Hometown: Lewiston!

Current town: Bowling Green, Ohio

Do you come from a musical family? Not at all. There was an appreciation for music, but no one had any musical training or was a performing musician.

How did you get into music? It was an immediate love — ever since I first heard the horn at Holy Cross Catholic School when the Bates College Faculty Brass Quintet came to play, way back in sixth grade. By time I was in high school, I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.

Why did you choose the horn and not, say, the drums or the piano? Are you kidding? The horn is FAR better (in my opinion, of course).

Is the horn the same thing as the French horn? It is — the term “French” horn is an English-speaking phenomenon. Every other language calls it just “horn,” but English players played on French-made horns, and wanted to distinguish themselves from their continental European colleagues who tended to play on German-made horns. So they talked about their “French” horn. I think this has lived on in the U.S. because of jazz music, as well, where any wind instrument (from flute to tuba) is often called a “horn.”

You’ve called yourself a “musical chameleon.” Why? I like being musically very active in multiple venues, so the ability to change style and tone color is paramount — like how a chameleon changes their color to blend in. From playing in a brass quintet, to an opera, to an R&B show in Detroit, to backing a rock band or playing a solo recital, I love adapting my playing to fit. I enjoy the challenge a ton!

Tell me about winning your Grammy: I was part of a recording project with the Southwest Chamber Music (a group in L.A. that I’ve played with since 2001) performing all of the chamber music of Mexican composer Carlos Chavez. Terrific music and fantastic musicians to play with; it was a huge project, covering four CDs. I was involved in the second CD, which won the 2004 Grammy for Best Classical Recording, Small Ensemble.

Did you ever think you’d win? We had a feeling we might, as the first volume won the same Grammy category in 2003. It was still exciting and a great honor to win with such a fabulous group.

Which is more fun — teaching or performing? They are equal to me, but different. Performing is all about sharing ideas and emotions with an audience — leading them in a musical journey and sharing a bit of my spirit in the process. Teaching is that element of sharing in a much more intense and intimate venue. Music lessons are one-on-one with the teacher, and there is a lot of give and take from both teacher and student, making it a very personal and rewarding pursuit. I love doing both!

What’s your favorite piece to play? Anything with a horn in it.

What would you like today’s Maine kids to know about music? A musician’s life is a great life, a life that is never dull or boring. It requires a lot of dedication and passion, but it brings out the very best in you and challenges you to be your best all the time. Don’t think you can’t do it and succeed because you’re a Mainer. Some FANTASTIC musicians have come from our state. I am extremely proud to be a Mainer and hope to inspire a new generation of Maine musicians to go for it!

Sure, you can play the horn pretty well, but how are you on the guitar? Seriously, the horn is a jealous mistress and knows when you’ve been somewhere else. It requires 100 percent of your dedication and focus!

For more on Pelletier — who is not only highly regarded by his peers, but can be heard on such popular movie soundtracks as “Battle: Los Angeles,” “Your Highness,” “Lethal Weapon 4,” “X-Men,” “Against the Ropes” and “Frequency” —  check out his biography on the Web or his CD “Celebration: Horn Music of Randall Faust.”


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