Hi everyone! Welcome to my first blog post! First thing’s first, if you want to read a bit more about me and this blog, feel free to click the About tab at the top of the page (or just click here).
Anyway, let’s kick things off with a story. This blog won’t feature many personal posts like this (it’ll mostly just be a platform to share and talk about cool music), but I thought this would be a fun way to get things going. Anyway, grab some popcorn, pull up a chair, and read on…
Ever since before I can remember, my life has been surrounded by music in some shape or form. My dad especially, was crucial to my musical development and remains one of the most inspiring figures in my life. For many years, he has worked as a middle school music teacher, conductor, festival adjudicator, horn player, and published composer (to only name a few roles!) As such, my childhood was set to an extremely diverse soundtrack. Family road trips were often accompanied by an eclectic mix of Stravinsky, The Beatles, Disney movie soundtracks, and Pat Metheny, while Chopin, Tito Puente, and John Williams could often be heard around the house. Live music events were also a common outing – over the years, the rest of my family and I attended many of my dad’s school concerts and professional orchestra gigs, such as summer pops concerts and musicals. At night, I was lulled to sleep by the sounds of Bach emanating from the boombox in my room. On top of this, I took two years of piano lessons, learned violin and trumpet in 4th and 5th grade, respectively, and sang in the children’s choirs at my church (one of my most treasured experiences was singing in the treble choir for a performance of Vaughan Williams’ Hodie).
Overall, music has always been a major part of my life. Classical music especially captured my attention from an early age and I always enjoyed it whether it was playing in the car, at home, or live. (Funny side story: I remember that when I was a kid, I would always get peeved when my younger sister, who was 2 or 3 at the time, was able to name more classical composers than me. How the heck does a two-year-old remember “Prokofiev”!?)
As I grew older though, my interest in classical music began to wane. While I still enjoyed it, it was definitely not to the same degree as when I was younger. Once I entered middle school, I went through an interesting phase (but then again, who doesn’t?) where I began listening mostly to alternative Christian rock bands like Hawk Nelson, Reliant K, and Jump5. (These were also the years when I let my hair grow out into a Beatles-esque mop top. Yeah, fun times.) Part of me became ashamed to admit to my friends that I liked classical music and my new listening tastes partially became my attempt to be “cool.” However, near the beginning of 7th grade, an important moment occurred in my musical life. I switched from playing the trumpet to playing the French horn, the instrument I would remain with until the present day. Alongside my new, more “hip” music choices, I began listening to recordings of horn concertos and works for horn ensemble to acclimate myself to the instrument (although I was already well-acquainted with the sound at this point, thanks to being around the house whenever my dad would teach horn lessons).
High school began two years later. I joined the marching band (in which I played the mellophone) and my musical curiosity was piqued once again, most notably with the discovery of drum corps. (The Cavaliers’ 2006 field show was my first exposure to this as a freshman. It blew my mind.) My listening habits stayed fairly static though – mostly Christian rock with a bit of classical on the side.
A few years later though, when I was a junior, I was hit full-force with a renewed interest in classical music. My dad had recently ordered a series of DVDs created by the San Francisco Symphony called Keeping Score and one night, out of curiosity, I decided to pop one into the DVD player and check it out. The one I chose was on Charles Ives’ Holidays Symphony. I was not familiar with either the piece or the composer, so I expected to be only mildly interested. What I was confronted with though absolutely floored me:
I had never heard music like this before. One moment, it was ear-splittingly dissonant and the next, it was transcendently beautiful. But what sealed the deal for me was that this extremely complex and crazy music was presented in such a way that actually made sense! Visuals and helpful commentary from the orchestra’s music director, Michael Tilson Thomas, opened both my eyes and ears to a whole new musical world that I was unaware of.
I was officially re-hooked.
Quickly, I made my way through the rest of the DVD series, which contained episodes on Beethoven, Berlioz, Copland, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky. With each one, my love of classical music was rekindled, becoming stronger than before. I began reading books on music history, learning more about composers, pieces, and different eras of music. I began attending orchestra concerts out of my own interest, taking advantage of student rush tickets and in the process, finding a renewed interest in live classical music. I began doing some musical exploring on my own, discovering other pieces and composers that had been previously unknown to me such as Gustav Mahler, Benjamin Britten, and John Adams. Additionally, I played horn in the Orange County Youth Symphony during my last two years of high school, which only solidified my newfound interests. No longer was I embarrassed to admit that I liked – no, loved – listening to classical music. I realized that it was just an innate part of who I was.
To make a long story short(er), I entered community college a few years later and, after experiencing a brief existential crisis over what I wanted to do with me life, I finally decided to pursue a degree in music history. I transferred soon after, receiving my Bachelor’s degree in the subject at California State University, Long Beach before moving on to my current graduate studies in musicology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. (There might be a post about my academic journey at some point in the future.)
During my late high school/early college years, as I basked in a newfound love of classical music and continued to expand my listening palette, I made another important discovery. Not only did I enjoy listening to music, performing music, and learning about music, but I realized that I loved sharing my love of music with others. Whether it be going to a concert with a friend or passing on playlist recommendations, I developed a firm belief that the history of classical music deserved to be shared and contained something for every taste.
This remains my belief to this day and is one of the goals of this blog – to cultivate that spark of curiosity, which led to my discovery of Charles Ives and so many other musical gems, and to help it spread. As you can see, this music has given me so much joy and excitement over the years and I have a desire to share that with the others.
This is my little corner of the Internet to do so.