So, it is the kind of music that is expansive and uses inspiring space in a way that is sonic and in surround sound.. WL: During Scribner’s tenure he created the annual tradition of the M.L.K. Choral Tribute. Have you thought about a signature event or project to repeat annually? STThe M.L.K. tribute grew organically out of Norman’s great need to do something when the city erupted after King’s assassination. I would hope any annual project that would grow out of my tenure would be equally the result of my interests intersecting with the city’s needs. WL: What are some things you are looking forward to about living in the nation’s capital? STI am a sap when it comes to being in the nation’s capital. I drive by the Kennedy Center in the evening, with the Lincoln and Washington
monuments in view, and my heart literally skips a beat. I suppose that would make many people roll their eyes, but I am afraid I can’t help myself. I am also feasting on the art and architecture, and especially the embassy life here, with the rich offerings of cultural events. WL: When did you know that you would pursue a professional career in choral music? STI was drawn to music very early and originally hoped to be a professional trumpet player. I got interested in choral music via doing musical theater. I was involved quite a bit in community theater in college, and right after, I formed a chorus out of a cast of “Hello, Dolly!” I just sent around a questionnaire, asking who would like to give a choral concert after the show was over. Almost everyone signed up, but of course, I had no music and no real knowledge of repertoire. I called my old high school teacher who was very gracious and lent me some music from her library. Once I started to learn the choral repertoire, I was hooked. I realized that I could study choral music for the rest of my life and never even scratch the surface. This sense of an endless pursuit really appealed to me. WL: Who were some of your musical role models? STMy first trumpet teacher in Boston, Richard Given. He never stopped pushing himself, and that made an impression on me. My older sister Nancy has always been a huge source of inspiration to me. She is a very fine, self-taught guitarist and has a sense of creativity and artistic integrity
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that is rare. My mother is a great lover of music, as was her father, and I have very early memories of her playing the piano and singing. Playing the trumpet in Ben Zander’s youth orchestra taught me to look deeply into the score to understand why a composer makes the choices he or she makes. Later, Jim Marvin at Harvard University served as an incredible mentor to me when I was his assistant conductor. The most important lessons I learned about preparing a choir were from him. WL: What are your interests outside of music? STI am kind of a nerd. I love chess and used to play constantly when I was a little boy. I have also always loved reading things like Hawking’s “Brief History of Time,” books that shake my complacency and renew a sense of wonder. Astronomy, the ocean, and studies about the brain have always done that for me — large frontiers, I suppose. I love professional sports, and still follow my beloved Boston teams with interest. Recently I have gotten a lot of satisfaction from dancing Tango (though I don’t feel very successful at it yet) and indoor climbing. I have a membership at Earthtreks in Rockville and find it a great way to stay in shape and problem-solve. WL: Tell us something exciting that most people may not know about you. STI don’t know how exciting this is, but when I was 14 I played in an ensemble called America’s Youth in Concert. We performed in Europe, but before we left we did a concert at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. I imagine that the audience was made up of family members and friends of the performing forces all roped into buying tickets for an effort they were funding anyway. I have mixed feelings about those sorts of things now, but as a young musician it made a strong impression on me to perform in those amazing halls. Now when I walk out on the Kennedy Center stage to conduct, I have a sense that a circle has been closed. WL: After a successful concert, are you more likely to grab a beer or a glass of wine? STScotch.
The Creative Issue