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Doc Severinsen

Pops Conductor Laureate

Doc Severinsen became the Minnesota Orchestra’s pops conductor laureate in April 2007, after completing 14 seasons as principal pops conductor. He has enjoyed a career of more than six decades as conductor, trumpet soloist and bandleader, well-known as the flamboyant former music director of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, a position he held for more than 25 years.

In July 2017, Severinsen celebrated his 90th birthday in two remarkable concerts with the Minnesota Orchestra that featured him in the varied roles of soloist, conductor and host.

Severinsen made his Minnesota Orchestra debut in 1965, and in 2003 he was featured with the Orchestra in the world premiere of Stephen Paulus’ Concerto for Two Trumpets and Orchestra, written for Severinsen and Manny Laureano, the Orchestra’s principal trumpet.

With more than 30 albums to his credit, Severinsen has recorded everything from big band and jazz-fusion to classical works. He received a 1987 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance—Big Band for his recording Doc Severinsen and the Tonight Show Band—Volume I.

In 2006, Severinsen moved to Mexico, and within weeks he was jamming with the guitarist Gil Gutierrez. He toured often with Gutierrez in a quintet called the San Miguel Five, performing a mix of Latin and Gypsy jazz and standards, to great acclaim. The ensemble's most recent CD, Oblivion, was released in January 2014.

Severinsen currently works with the S.E. Shires Company in Massachusetts, whose line of trumpets include the S.E. Shires Severinsen Destino III, a model developed through Doc’s supervision until his exacting standards of quality and sound were met.

In recent years, Severinsen also served as principal pops conductor of the Milwaukee and Phoenix Symphony Orchestras. He has continued to perform with both symphony orchestras and his big band across the country, including a September 2015 Doc Severinsen Big Band performance at the Hollywood Bowl with Pink Martini. 

Today, Severinsen has not lost his flair for fashion or his trademark wit. But his gregarious nature has never interfered with the fact that he has been one of the greatest trumpeters of the last 60 years, respected in the worlds of classical music, jazz, big band, and now, world music. In the end, Doc Severinsen has transcended his celebrity and rejoiced in his remarkable ability to simply play his trumpet as well as he can.

 For more information, visit docseverinsen.com.