When I was six years old, I told my parents I would like to play the double bass. This was in part because I was crazy about the sounds of the rhythm section in old jazz records, but also because my family had already played all other potential contenders; my mother had been a french horn player, my father a guitarist and my older brother and sister a percussionist and cellist, respectively. There was no way I was going to play the same instrument as one of my older siblings. That would have been unthinkable! I mean, can you imagine? So instead I chose the largest stringed instrument I could find (notwithstanding the harp or piano).
When I was 12, I began playing the bass guitar and this was revolutionary for me. I had instant access to entirely new possibilities of music while only having to teach myself a different medium of bass. I was drawn to blues and rock and soul and funk, and I have been in numerous bands throughout the years. This variety of experiences has added to my love and appreciation for music; variety is, after all, the proverbial 'spice of life'.
When I was 15, I won a spot with the Lincoln Symphony. This was my first taste of a professional orchestra, and I was hooked. I stayed with them for three years before moving to Nashville, TN, for a bachelor's of music at Vanderbilt University. Around this time, I also began teaching at SAIL (Strings Alliance In Lincoln) Music camp and have been back every year since for the two weeks it runs in the summer.
I attended music festivals many summers in my adolescence, but none more so than Rocky Ridge Music Centre. Tucked away in the woods, at an altitude of ten-thousand feet and at the base of the enormous Longs Peak, this was paradise. My time at this festival not only calcified my love of the world of classical music making, but it also deepened my love of nature and my understanding of the interplay between the natural world and the creative arts.
I have recently completed a master's of music at the Royal College of Music, as well as a one-year Artist Diploma programme from the same institute. My goal is to keep playing and learning, hopefully playing with world-class orchestras and giving back the knowledge I have gained to the next generation.
In this grand cycle of giving and receiving knowledge, I must thank all of my teachers and colleagues who have attempted to impart their wisdom on me, especially Glen Wanner and Joel Reist from Vanderbilt University, Gabriele Ragghianti and Peter Bukoke from the Royal College of Music, and Mike Swartz who helped me begin my journey with the double bass.
Royal College of Music
Nashville, Tennessee, USA
If you could reinvent the way we experience classical music, what would you change?
I think I would make it less formal, more accessible to the public. Many of my friends are intimidated by the immaculate buildings and marble columns that often house orchestras. Maybe if orchestras played in colourful clothing more often, it could become a more approachable experience. I’m also fascinated by multi-sensory experiences being incorporated – light shows, or scents being pumped through the hall. However, having said all this, I do love the venues with their specific grandeur; and that there are usually no other distractions when I go to see a Mahler Symphony. I guess though, I am always open to new, creative ways to engage more people.
What is your favourite piece of music and why do you love it?
At the time of writing this, Beethoven’s Symphony No.5 is the last thing I listened to and I’ll go with that. Every time of day holds different favourites for me, but Beethoven is never far from the top of my list. I find his music really exciting and alive. When I’m feeling more melancholic I will put on Barber’s Adagio for Strings; as cheesy as that is, I love it.