When I try to remember my earliest days, my thoughts often turn to standing in front of a large, tan, wooden cabinet. I am just able to stand on tiptoes and look over the edge of the enclosure down into a dark recess containing a magical, mechanical device. Stax of black, vinyl platters—with crimson labels featuring a hound dog at the top tilting his head to listen to a victrola—are being dropped one by one onto a black, rubber mat.
I recall one platter that played something fun and lively called "Water Music" by Handel and another one that played something dark and spooky, like a rumbling thunderstorm threatening to ruin my day, by someone with the strange name of Rach-mo-ni-noff. Some platters played groovy songs by someone named ELVIS!, while others sang out beautiful, birdlike songs from people whose names I couldn't pronounce, like Poo-chee-nee.
In other words, I was doomed from the start.
After graduating with a degree in music education, I spent some time working in the public school system as an assistant band director. I tried my hand at arranging the music for our marching band shows and found that I enjoyed it.
My primary instrument, the trumpet, kept calling through the noise though and I eventually decided to stop teaching band. I spent many years working as both a private trumpet instructor for middle school students and as a freelance performer. During those years, I continued to make arrangements for marching bands, never composing original music.
Eventually, the performance business ran a very natural course, and I became satisfied that I had done all I could and wanted to do. I still love the instrument - all those movie soundtracks and high school football games, those Olympian moments when only a fanfare of thirty horns will suffice, and those moments of reflection and poignancy when the sound of one horn can still bring me to tears.
After leaving the trumpet behind, mostly, I started focusing on composing for the first time in my life. My most recently completed work is a three-movement piece for horn and piano titled Watches of the Night. The title is taken from a short story by Rudyard Kipling with the music inspired by three overnight security guard shifts, the origins of which date back to ancient times.