He has agreed to share a little of his experiences in college and offers an update on his career since graduation.
How did you first get interested in music and trumpet?I don’t know if I have ever admitted this one before, but I actually wanted to play tenor saxophone when I was going into 5th grade. At the time, they needed trumpet players, so I agreed to switch over. I had a fantastic director my first year at Holmes Elementary, Nate Auman, and was also supported by my family to pursue music.
Can you tell us a little about how you came to play at the Kennedy Center in 2006?The Kennedy Center and National Symphony Orchestra have an annual Summer Music Institute that brings young musicians from around the world to the Kennedy Center for a four-week orchestral training institute. One of my theatre directors at Lincoln High School, John Heineman, heard about the program and forwarded a recorded audition on to the state selection committee. Playing at the Kennedy Center is an almost indescribable feeling when you consider the musicians who have performed on that stage and the Presidents that have watched performances there since 1971.
What was your favorite experience from UNL?Running out of the northwest tunnel in Memorial Stadium with the Cornhusker Marching Band for the first game my freshman year is something I don’t think I’ll ever forget, and definitely my favorite experience. Just the experience of having 90,000 of the best fans cheering for you and going crazy on game day is about as good as it gets in my book. A lot of veterans at the time told me that it wasn’t as big of a deal to them as they played more games, but I never lost the energy it gave me in my four years at UNL.
What kind of process and persistence did it take from you to apply for and be awarded a Truman Scholarship?Applying for a nationally competitive scholarship is definitely a process that involves a lot of people. From the start, I think you need to develop a clear purpose for your application and frame out the story you want to illustrate to the review boards.
After a long month of waiting, I received notice to come to Denver for an in person interview with other finalists from the Midwest. The Truman Foundation has panels of past, distinguished Truman Scholars conduct the interviews, which lasted a full day at the District Court of Appeals in Denver. A few more weeks passed, and then in the middle of a wind ensemble rehearsal, a procession of Deans, Directors, Vice-Chancellors, and other staff came in to announce I had been selected as a Truman Scholar.
How important was UNL in helping you achieve and win this award?
Institutional support is critical in completing an application process like this, and Nebraska really dedicates a lot of resources to help their students compete nationally. Dr. Laura Damuth, UNL’s Fellowships Advisor, helped me to continually revise and improve my application before I submitted it to the Truman Foundation.
You had an illustrious undergraduate career, what have you been doing since to pursue your goals?Following graduation, I accepted an internship at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in their Office of Development. I work closely with the development staff to identify, solicit, and steward our major corporate and foundation donors. It’s very fulfilling work to do when you see how the financial gifts to the institution lead to many programs and performances.
What is your dream job? And how will music be apart of it?I definitely want to pursue a career in Arts Administration at a major non-profit Performing Arts Center. I was asked the same question in my Truman interview and I responded by saying I’d like to someday be the President of the Kennedy Center. Music and the performing arts as a whole have made a very significant impact on my life and my way of thinking, so I can’t really imagine a career where they’re not involved in someway.
What advice would you give someone interested in studying music at the college level?Find a practice room you like and visit it often.
In all seriousness though, the time that you put in equals the benefits you receive, and there is no substitute for quality time “on the horn.” Looking at different schools and finding the right fit is also extremely important. I considered many institutions for my undergraduate degree and ultimately settled on Nebraska due to their quality of ensemble directors, academic commitment to students, and the community atmosphere I felt on campus and at the School of Music.
What advice would you give someone who is new to Classical music?Listen without preconceived ideas to the music. Symphonies by Tchaikovsky can transport a listener through stories of struggle, fate, deception, and love. Chamber pieces by Ewald and Stravinsky can demonstrate soloists’ virtuosity in the context of a unified ensemble. Modern compositions can reflect current issues in society and create a place for discussion. While keeping an open mind is important, I think it’s good to know what it is that you like. I try to branch out musically, but always keep a few playlists of my favorite composers and orchestras on my iPod. It’s always amazing to me the differences you hear in a piece depending on who is playing it. Two world-class orchestras like the Chicago Symphony and Vienna Philharmonic could make recordings of the same piece, but provide the listener with two very different aural experiences.