I grew up in western New York, between Rochester and Buffalo in a rural community. My parents were transplanted New Englanders so every summer we went to New England and went camping. New England was always the dream destination for me as a kid. My brother started playing the clarinet in elementary school. He's four years older and whatever he did I thought was great so I wanted to play the clarinet. That's how I ended up a clarinet player and then I just fell in love with music. I loved making music. I loved the sense of community, of creating something beautiful together. I loved sharing music. I was very fortunate that the Eastman School of Music was in my neighborhood because that's where I ended up doing my undergraduate degree in music.
What’s your first musical memory?
My parents were not musical and I grew up in a rural area so we didn't have access to all the cultural offerings that one has today. My earliest memory and also my very first memory is from when I was a baby, maybe 18 months old. I was very ill and I was sitting up in my crib in the dark and my father was sitting next to my crib playing his banjo very softly. What I remember from that experience is the feeling of being loved and connected and comforted just by the sound of his music. The music really touched me and conveyed so many emotions and I've wondered if that's part of what inspired my musical journey.
I was really drawn to the mission of Shelter Music Boston. It just lines up with my work as a therapeutic musician. For three years now I've worked at Mount Auburn Hospital offering therapeutic music to patients to bring comfort, lower anxiety, and bring respite. The idea of creating a healing environment through music really resonates with the work we do at Shelter Music Boston and I believe Shelter Music Boston and therapeutic music really align well with each other.
Tell us about a special SMB concert memory.
I’ve got two that I really want to share that I keep in my clarinet case. After each concert our shelter guests have an opportunity to give us feedback and that really helps us to know how our programs are coming across and also what really resonated and what didn’t. I can say in all honesty I’ve had some of the most meaningful audience exchanges through Shelter Music Boston. Some of the conversations I have had with our shelter guests have been profound and on a level that you would imagine the most sophisticated concert goer articulating. There’s an immediacy and a real visible sense of the impact that your music has on people. It’s so immediate and I don’t think you get that in a concert hall. There are two written survey responses that I keep. This is the first. This was at Dimock and these are their responses:
- How did you feel before the concert? I wasn’t in the best mood.
- How did you feel after the concert? I felt overcome with joy and excitement. The music took me to a place where my mind had endless abilities.
- What did you enjoy most about the concert? How the instruments played so well together. The silence and then the starts were incredible. Come to Dimock more.
- How did you feel before the concert? I felt a little down, sad
- How did you feel after the concert? A little better. I felt lighter, like a weight had been lifted off of me
- What did you enjoy most about the concert? That it was live and the music didn’t care if I was rich or poor with a house or not.
What else are you involved in outside of your work with SMB?
For 20 years I played in the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra and I’ve also played in the Rhode Island Philharmonic. I’ve always had a freelance career, both orchestral and chamber music. I teach, both a private studio and at Longy, teaching performance psychology in the mind/body department and also teaching artistry. I work as a Certified Music Practitioner working at Mount Auburn with palliative care. I’ve had a multi-faceted career and I think what I love so much about Shelter Music Boston is it really aligns with the mission of making a difference in the world through music.
What is your favorite performance you’ve ever attended? What made it so special?
I didn’t grow up in an environment that was steeped in classical music so the first time that I heard most great orchestral pieces was usually when I played them. My mother owned two classical music records. One was Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 with Bruno Walter conducting the NY Philharmonic and the other was the New World Symphony by Dvorak. When I went to Eastman my freshman year I heard Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 in the Eastman theater performed by the Eastman student orchestra. I had never heard a live Mahler symphony before. It was breathtaking! It just blew me away. It was like hearing an orchestra for the first time. I love Mahler’s melodies and the whole breadth of emotions he conveys in that piece. That first experience of hearing a fine orchestra was so profoundly thrilling and magical.
What is your favorite performance you’ve ever given?
In 2003, the last year both my parents were really healthy, they came to Boston and I happened to be playing Bernstein’s Three Dances Episodes from On the Town with the Boston Pops. I was playing E-flat clarinet, the piccolo member of the clarinet family, and the last movement, Times Square:1944 opens with an E-flat clarinet solo. I got my parents tickets in the first balcony at Symphony Hall. I could see their faces as I performed and they were so proud of me. I was always so grateful for their kindness and their support of my music and this was music of their era that I was playing. It was just a perfect moment. I was glad that I could share that with them because I’ve lived all my adult life not near my family. Concerts and events come and go and I don’t get to share them with my family. I’m so glad I had this opportunity and I’ll never forget it.
What 5 albums would you take with you to a deserted island?
- Bach: The Goldberg Variations by Glen Gould
- Appalachian Spring & Old American Songs by Aaron Copland with William Warfield singing
- Songs of the Auvergne by Joseph Canteloube with Kiri Te Kanawa singing
- Anything by Bill Evans
- The Platinum Collection by Nina Simone