I could tell you about my various careers as clarinetist, pianist, and composer, when I performed up and down the Eastern seaboard of the United States and had my music premiered around the world. But I'd rather tell you about two things that changed my life and have continued to define my musical world.
About twenty-five years ago I was standing in line at Lowes, when a 90 year old composer came on the wide screen t.v. above the check out counter. He was practically in tears, as he heard his music played for the first time. He had been composing all his life, but had never had a piece performed. For his 90th birthday his family hired an orchestra to play some of his pieces. There I was at Lowes, the tears streaming down my face, folks in line urging me to move on, when I made a promise to myself - Every deserving composer in my world would have his/her music performed. I would devote myself to the composers and performers and to bringing their music to life and to a wider audience.
A few years later I bought Olivier Messiaen's book "The Technique of My Musical Language" which became my prized possession. I spent all my waking hours poring over this book, written by one of the most generous and original composers of the 20th century. Word got out about this rather strange woman who was always studying Messiaen on the village green, and talking about Messiaen to anyone who would listen, and giving Messiaen CDs to everyone she knew. The next thing I knew the most incredibly talented and eager students were knocking on my door.
Now, twenty years later, my composition studio is the most joyous and creative place imaginable. Here's an example. We were working on ear training and music dictation. The point was to think of a piece that "everybody knows" and write it down. The three students were brothers, aged 6, 8 and 10. They are violinists and violists as well as composers. I suggested "Mary Had a Little Lamb". They had never heard of it. "How about 'Are You Sleeping, Brother John'?" Blank looks. I tried every nursery rhyme, jazz standard, hymn, campfire song I could think of. They didn't know any of them. "Well, what is a song that everyone knows?" I asked. "The Bach Double," said the 10 year old. "Everybody knows that." And the three brothers started singing it, in parts, then grabbed pencils and staff paper and started transcribing it.
Welcome to my world, where music and magic and magnificence are always weaving new tapestries!
Here's an article about writing a piece for a Composers Forum competition several years ago:
And here's more about my studio: