Everything Band Podcast

Thank you to Mark Connor for the opportunity to speak on his Everything Band Podcast. It’s a great podcast to hear from various composers, conductors and educators. It was nice to share some aspects of my story and be able to give credit to some key people in my life. I don’t know where I’d be if it were not for people like David Gillingham, David Ludwig and Jim Gray. Music is so important and for some reason it seems to be one of the best vehicles to bring out community and encouragement in people. Such a wonderful thing!



It's been a long day of cleaning a score of a new piece, which I find terribly boring (many more cleaning days to follow!). But even still, I seem to be filled to the brim with thankfulness that I am a musician at all. What if I never went to that honor band in high school where I finally "understood" music deeply for the first time? I see many musicians conducting honor bands right now. Conductors, you may have just conducted a student who finally "gets it". You might have just changed that life forever.

I just stumbled across a note I wrote back in 2002 after a high school honor band I attended with David Gillingham:

"Music takes me to another place where I'm not concerned about the test I have to take. It just takes me away to a place I might have never been otherwise. It takes me to another world."

16 years later I am still trying to understand this "other world" that also exists in this world. And I get to do that for the rest of my life. I think this other world holds some secrets for us we may not easily understand right now. But if we'd just listen...


I will lament and love

I said these words almost two years ago (video below). I had no idea just how tightly I'd have to hold on to these very beliefs in order to write the piece I just finished.  I said those words before my piece, Eternity in an Hour, was performed.  However, these words are even more applicable to the piece I just wrote that is dedicated to Stoneman Douglas High School, titled I will lament and love. The piece is a lament, but also a display of hope.  I've included 17 short solos throughout the work to draw attention to the individuals who lost their lives.  

The students at Stoneman Douglas are putting hope on display right now and I find this beautiful.  When you sing through suffering (whether through the human voice or giving voice to an instrument through human breath), that means hope is present.  A lament can hold the saddest melody, but if that melody is sung then hope is present.  These students are singing through their instruments and that shows hope and beauty.

I was approached in February about writing a piece to give to the group at Stoneman Douglas and we are now at the end of the process.  The Ohio State University Wind Symphony generously recorded the piece to give them as a gift as soon as I finished the work.  I am so glad to have been a part of such a thoughtful process.


Upcoming Performances

6 wind ensemble performances coming up!

February 11th- Capital University will premiere "Solace Dance"

February 22nd- The University of West Georgia will premiere "Poem at Cantwell Cliffs" with Raquel Rodriquez as trumpet soloist

February 25th- Quad City Wind Ensemble will perform "Yet not as I will...".

March 3rd-Columbia University gives the US premiere of "Beauty Broken"

March 5th- Rowan University will premiere "Autumn Air".

April 23rd- Arizona State University concert band will perform "Dance the Joy Alive".  Winner of composition contest for the Arizona State University concert band which was held by the Beta Omicron Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi.

The beauty of music can make you desire more beauty and more joy. It reveals a longing. But we can't stop at the bus stop of this music. You have to use it as a vehicle to get to true Beauty. Just like light can hide Light-beauty can hide Beauty. Unless you have eyes to see. If you have eyes to see, this beauty only enhances true Beauty and helps you see it for how glorious it actually is.

So many take pause at the bus stop because of how lovely it appears to be, not knowing that the place to which the bus travels is infinitely more glorious.



Music: filler of hunger/revealer of hunger

 The best music can both fill us and reveal our hunger. Music can help us ponder the reality of this life as well as the next. It can awaken wonder in us. It can fill our souls with beauty while it sounds. It can create channels within us that allow space for more beauty to be carried inside us throughout this life. It is food that provides filling and energy for a brief amount of time, and then leaves us hungry for True Food when it ends.  It is a pointer. A shadow of what is to come. In other words, it whets our appetite for everlasting Beauty. At it's best, music is a vehicle that allows us to connect with our True Home for a short period of time during our exile on this earth. 


Thank you, David Maslanka

A great composer has passed.  I was first introduced to David Maslanka's music while working on my MM at Central Michigan.  Symphony no. 4.  What a piece.  That piece not only changed the way I write music, but it gave me a wonderful vision of heaven that can never be taken away from me.  Here is the ending of the great work:

When the Old One Hundredth sounds in it's fullness I see the victory of Christ as He entered back into His Father's presence after completing His work on this earth.  This is a vision no other piece of music has ever been able to give me.

Maslanka visited MSU a number of times during my graduate studies.  I had the privilege of meeting him and hearing him speak.  He was kind and gentle.  A deep thinker.  He stayed true to what he believed and why he writes music.  This clip of him speaking below also had a great impact on me and encouraged me in ways I cannot explain here. 

ITG 2017

I have attended each International Trumpet Guild conference for the last 4 years as my music has been performed. I always enjoy being surrounded by the sounds of trumpet and catching up with old friends (and making new ones!)  This year my trumpet solo, Refractions, was featured on the New Works Recital. Rob Waugh approached me about a year ago to write him a solo.  He mentioned that he'd like it to be a piece that his students could also easily perform. He performed the third movement of this piece on the recital in Hershey, PA.  He sent me a recording of the piece from a recital he gave at his school last Fall, but it was so wonderful to finally hear his big and beautiful sound live. 


It was also great getting to catch up with a former Michigan classmate, Jason Bergman.  He is such a great trumpet player and is a person of great personality and character!  He has some of my music in his hands and I can't wait to hear what he does with it. 

It was a great conference as always and I walk away ready to write some new music!


Aaron Copland:

"It occurs to me to wonder: are you a better person for having heard a great work of art? Are you morally a better person, I mean? In the largest sense, I suppose you are, but in the more immediate sense, I doubt it. I doubt it because i have never seen it demonstrated. What happens is that a masterwork awakens in us reactions of a spiritual order that are already in us, only waiting to be aroused. When Beethoven's music exhorts us to "be noble," "be compassionate," "be strong," he awakens moral ideas that are already within us. "

Over time, works of great beauty can change a person.  These works can bring out the person you are meant to be. Protect your ears from mere entertainment.  Find the music that will carve out channels within your soul where beauty and courage can be stored.