Where were you born and (if different) where did you grow up? Born Philadelphia PA; just before I turned nine, the family moved to S. Burlington, VT.
Current residence and marital status/family : Married to Kathy Van Aken. Kids: Kirsten, Leo, and Johanna. We’ve lived in Medical Lake, WA, since 2013.
Education: BM from University of Vermont (horn studies with William Karstens; theory/composition with T.L. Read); MM from Manhattan School of Music (horn studies w. Joel Winter); one year Professional Studies program at Juilliard School (horn studies w. James Chambers).
When did you start playing with the VSO? 1977
Other current jobs besides VSO: Third horn, Coeur d’Alene (Idaho) Symphony. Also Assistant Deli Manager in a Rosauers Supermarket in Spokane.
Favorite composer: I love Bach, Haydn, Ravel, Sibelius, Bruckner, Mahler, Richard Strauss, and Hindemith, but if I had to choose just ONE composer, it’d have to be Brahms. The structure of Brahms’ music fascinates me at every level, from the smallest motives through harmony to over-all form; also, the emotions he references in his music resonate with mine.
Hobbies: railroad and aviation history and modeling; birding (especially raptors); cooking; word-play; composing music; geology and geography; architecture
How did you get started in music? Began playing in school band; was encouraged to participate beyond school in Vermont Youth Orchestra and regional festivals. Attempted to major in chemistry, but music lured me back.
Dream job if not musician: I’d like to design the kits model railroaders use to build their city-scapes.
Secret ambition: Finish some of the larger compositions I have been sketching.
Favorite vice: ethnic cuisines
Best advice I ever got: Ronald Foulkes, my high school music director, told me, “Only pursue a career in music if there is nothing else you can do.” I spent three miserable years trying to avoid becoming a professional musician, and since then have enjoyed music-making as a career.
Favorite way to spend an evening: Playing music in an ensemble with friends.
Pet peeve: I resent the way art has been pushed aside in public school education. Participation in school music programs correlates very highly with academic skills, and offers the student a life-long avocation. I know many amateur musicians still active into their 70s and even 80s. Who would dare try to play football at that age?
I’m most proud of: Music I wrote for one specific performance that has found a wider audience; concerts I’ve played where I was able to rise to the highest standards my colleagues could set; still being treated as though I was relevant by colleagues from my New York freelance music days, even though I’ve been out of that scene since 2003….