A native of Charlotte, Michigan, Charley Lea began his studies in music when he was 10. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where he studied with Armando Ghitalla and Ramon Parcells. Lea joined the Grand Rapids Symphony as second/assistant principal trumpet in 1991 and moved to the principal trumpet position in 2015. Lea has also been a member of The Santa Fe Opera Orchestra since 1994. Prior to joining the Grand Rapids Symphony, he was principal trumpet of the Michigan Opera Theatre in Detroit and has appeared many times with the Detroit Symphony. He participated in the Festival of Two Worlds in both Charleston, South Carolina, and Spoleto, Italy. As soloist, Lea has appeared several times with the Grand Rapids Symphony. In 2009 he premiered a concerto for brass trio composed by Jim Stephenson for the Grand Rapids Symphony. Lea is a devoted teacher and maintains a private studio. He has served on the faculties of Grand Valley State University, Hope College, and Aquinas College.