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 house—Fats Waller, the Big Bands, Broadway show tunes—and 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 inspire me.  

"All music is what awakes from you when you are reminded by the instruments. "

Walt Whitman