August 23 to 29, 1999
The event that was to determine the direction of my life took place at Clifton Stadium where I saw my brother march in the Clifton High School Mustang Band for his (and my) first football game. Seeing the band march into the stadium for the pregame show excited me so much that I wanted to jump out of my seat and join the band right then and there. That event, and my brother's gentle encouragement were the catalysts for a love of music that has taken me to where I am today.
My very first performance with the band was at the old Shea Stadium for a play-off game between the Giants and the Browns- trial by fire to say the least. The band had just gotten back from an award winning performance in Holland and I was filling in for a flutist that had already left for college. For the first time in my life I had a true sense of belonging and dedication. The band provided the extrinsic motivators I needed to keep me inspired. By my senior year, I was solo flute in the concert band and had made New Jersey Region 1 and All State Bands. Throughout high school, I studied with Frank Scelba, former principal flutist with the New Jersey Symphony. His reputation as a strict, no nonsense teacher was a motivator for me to come prepared for lessons. He was an excellent teacher who impressed upon me the importance of being open to a wide variety of musical experiences.
The thought of not having music as a major part of my life after graduating high school was unthinkable. I decided to major in music after making All State Band. I thought that if I could make All State Band, I might have a chance at making a career in music. With some wise advice from my mother, I got a degree in music education so that I would have something to fall back on in case I didn't find a job playing professionally. In 1977, I graduated cum laude from Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove Pa.. 5 days later, I was on my way to basic training at Ft. McClellan in Anniston, Alabama after having won a job with the U.S. Army Field Band in Washington, DC.
I feel really fortunate to have been able to serve my country in the best way I know how as the solo piccoloist for the U.S. Army Field Band, the official touring band for the Department of the Army in Washington, DC. Our mission is to assist the Army in maintaining and fostering a positive image of the military, good community relations and promote patriotism. The Field Band spends about 100-120 days a year on the road presenting free concerts to the general public as well as clinics and recitals in the schools. At home the Band rehearses for upcoming tours, performs concerts, produces CDs and has participated in several Inaugural parades. After traveling to Hawaii in September of 1995 for World War II commemorative ceremonies and parades I can say that I have been to all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
I have many memorable experiences that I will always cherish. As with flute, I was a late bloomer on piccolo. Though I had played some piccolo in high school and college, it wasn't until I got into the Band that I became a piccolo specialist. I have been featured as a soloist on numerous major tours in the U.S. and abroad; an apportunity I don't think I could have gotten any where else. Since June of 1979, I have played the solo in the Stars and Stripes Forever at the end of every concert and still enjoy looking out at all of the smiling faces in the audience. In 1985, an original composition titled Dance of the Southern Lights for piccolo solo and band was written for me by Staff Arranger SFC Eric Richards. I have performed this for the Band's 40th Anniversary concert at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC, the Midwest Band Clinic in Chicago as well as on tours through Japan, Korea, Germany and India.
I have had the opportunity to see and experience many places I may never have gotten to on my own. Representing our country abroad has been particularly exciting. There's something very special about being able to communicate with people who do not speak our language and to foster good will between nations in a peaceful manner. In 1984, we were a part of the 40th Anniversary Commemoration of the D-Day invasion at Normandy Beach during a European tour that included performances in the Netherlands, Belguim and Germany. 1987 saw us travel to Korea, Japan and Okinawa. Later that year we were invited to play for Berlin's 700th birthday in the Berlin Philharmonic Hall, one of the world's great concert halls. 1989 took us to India for the International Industrial trade Fair, where we played for the U.S. Ambassador to India as well as Rajiv Ghandi. Once again we were participants in D-Day 50th Anniversary Commemorations, this time in England, Belgium, and Luxembourg. What made this particularly meaningful to me was that my father was a medic in 1st Army during the Battle of the Bulge. I felt as though I was following his footsteps and gained a real appreciation for what he went through even though he is to this day he is still reluctant to talk about it. Of the many concerts we have played over the years, one of the most memorable ones occurred in a gymnasium in Elk City Oklahoma the day that President Bush declared the end of the Gulf War. During the course of the concert we received 11 standing ovations. Other concerts include the American Band Masters Association Conventions, Music Educator's National Conventions, the 200th Anniversary of the Signing of the Constitution at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC and joint concerts with the Cincinnati, Detroit Symphonies and the Boston Pops.
Outside the Band, I have had many wonderful musical opportunities to include subbing with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra for a 2 week run of the Nutcracker Suite with the American Ballet Theater; playing with the Prevailing Winds quintet; participating in piccolo masterclasses with Lawrence Trott; performing at the 1991 and 1998 Flute Conventions as a member of the Professional Flute Choir and as a winner of the Convention Performer's Competition in Phoenix last summer; and promoting the piccolo as a solo instrument by giving recitals. I have had opportunities to study with Britton Johnson, former principal flutist with the Baltimore Symphony, Laurie Sokoloff, piccoloist-Baltimore Symphony, Geralyn Coticone, piccoloist National Symphony (at the time) and Jeffery Zook, piccoloist-Detriot Symphony. I have been published in Flute Talk Magazine, Band World Magazine and the Washington Flute Society Newsletter. From 1996-1998, I served on the Board of Directors for the Washington Flute Society and am the Program Chair for the Flute Society's next Flute Fair in February, 2000. Last summer I was invited to be a member of the Piccolo Committee for the NFA. Last winter, I was invited to give a recital and conduct a piccolo masterclass for the Florida Flute Association's and the Flute Society of Washington's annual Flute Fairs.
I also have several non-musical interests. I am an avid swimmer (this has helped on those occasions when I have had to play at 7,000 feet), DC history buff, devoted Redskins fan (even when they stink), scrabble player, collector of flute player and frog figurines (yes, I love Kermit the Frog), movie lover, and a confirmed chocoholic. Over the years, I have volunteered as a docent for the Washington Historical Society, walked dogs for PETS-DC, which provides assistance for pet owning people with AIDS, cooked meals for the homeless, and assisted tourists visiting Washington with Travelers Aid. As for future plans, I plan on retiring from the Field Band sometime in the next 4 years or so. I hope to continue playing in some way whether for an orchestra or as a free-lancer. The masterclasses I conducted last winter were such a blast for me that I hope to do more of them in the future. After all, where else can I talk about piccolo playing without people rolling their eyes and saying "There she goes again!" I am working on a book of piccolo solos and technical passages from the Band repertoire. I don't know when it will come out since I am still waiting for permissions from publishers. There is the dream of making a piccolo CD and perhaps even becoming a DC tour guide. Finally, I want to thank Larry Krantz for featuring me and all of you for taking the time to read this. If you would like to write to me personally, I'd love to hear from you since I am too busy these days to keep up with the volume of messages on the list. I'd be especially interested in hearing about the piccolo events at the convention since I wasn't able to make it this year. Happy picclin'!