I was given a gift for melody at an early age. My first composition,
the pretentiously titled Septet Moderne for Brass, was written at
age 14 and performed by members of the prestigious Watkins Glen Junior
High School Band.
Watkins Glen is an idyllic, little 'Father Knows Best' town in the
Finger Lakes region of western New York. The town sits at the southern
end of Seneca Lake, and before it became known for Grand Prix road
racing it was famed for the wonderful gorge that cuts through the
surrounding hills and crosses Main Street on its way to the lake.
The rural countryside rolls out away from the town over green hills
filled with secret glens and on to other valley lakes, lapping quietly
at stone shores, changed little since Indians tied their canoes there.
You can still drive for miles without encountering anything but farm
houses and an occasional crossroad with a country store.
My friends and I camped in those hills and swam and fished on the
lake during an uncomplicated childhood, never realizing that the world
outside was changing.
I filled my little world with music...listening to the 78's that
were around the houseFats Waller, the Big Bands, Broadway show
tunesand all the standard songs my father's dance band played
on weekends. The classic "Tin Pan Alley" songs of the previous
generation were what I was learning while the rest of the world was
witnessing the Rock 'n Roll revolution.
From my first attempts at composing in junior high, to what is now
a daily ritual, the ghosts of that land where I grew up continue to