When was your first encounter with music?
I actually don’t remember my first encounter. I am the only musical person in my immediate family, so luckily my mom got me into piano lessons around 2nd grade. I had a different teacher every year, and by the time I was in high school, I would routinely take the melody of all the etudes I’d been assigned and would come to lessons and improvise my own accompaniment.
This, annoyed my teacher, and those were my last piano lessons. Lol
When/How did you start playing your instrument?
Originally I was a (mediocre) trumpet player from 5th grade until about junior year of high school. The piece that sealed my musical fate was actually Jack Stamp’s ‘Gavorkna Fanfare’. My band director heard me attempting to play this wildly aggressive trumpet part. I was playing so delicately that she asked me if I even knew how to articulate. She looked at me, and told me to go get a French horn. My feelings were initially hurt, but some of the first pieces I got to play horn on were Carmina Burana, Elsa’s Procession, Sussex Mummers, and Lincoln Shire Posy, so I got over it pretty fast. She knew.
When did you decide to make music your career?
There was never an option in my mind to do anything else. I had 56 “absences” my senior year of high school. Not because I wasn’t at school, but because I’d hide out in the band room & write music until lunch… at which point, I’d check in at the front office so I could go to band. Nothing has ever been more driving, healing, or worthy of my own time and efforts as music has been. I’m grateful every day that as a teacher, performer and composer, I’m able to be a part of that experience for young musicians.
What is your favorite memory of a performance?
This is a very tough question. As a horn player, I’m almost required to talk about playing Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 or Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4, or premiering Maslanka’s 8th Symphony… but many of my favorite memories are actually from collaborating with MWF!
At the conclusion of our first season, I knew this was a group that I felt compelled to write for. I asked our artists who was familiar with Percy Grainger’s, “The Nightingale and the Two Sisters” (one of my favorites) and was shocked that not one person had heard of it. Tyler and I decided to to create a dectet version of the piece, which eventually turned into an arrangement for 13 winds (so that everyone in the festival could be a part of it.) You better bet that I was writing & editing parts for musicians on the bus on the way to that performance. There now exists a terrific meme of me ugly-crying at the conclusion of our last performance of that piece. I cherish that memory, the process, the performance, and that meme.
What do you like to do outside of music?
I manage a jungle of over 150 potted plants in my home. (Someone *please* build me a greenhouse!) I’m starting a new business dedicated to producing music for students that is idiomatic for their instruments and focused on teaching specific skills. I also like to paint, love on all cats, and talk to strangers in coffee houses.