In March, as I premiered a remarkable new concerto by George Tsontakis in Troy and Saratoga with my colleagues in the Albany Symphony, it is easy to see the achievements and talents of the musicians on stage. However, a life in music doesn’t just happen. In my own case, it was the result of a “village” of people who invested in me in many ways over the years. From my parents’ seizing the moment when I found my first trumpet in a small town in central Pennsylvania, to a young band director who ignited a fire inside of me, to the mentorship of great teachers like Charles Schlueter of the Boston Symphony, I am a product of the investment of all of them and more. There is no way to pay them back for what they have given me, so I choose to pay it forward – looking to the future.
Since my first season in the Albany Symphony, it has been clear that this organization shares my commitment to nurturing and preserving our art form for future generations. By cultivating new art with commissions and preserving these new works and those of the recent past with recordings, the Albany Symphony does more than any orchestra of its size to touch the future. However, possibly the most important work we do is the orchestra’s outreach to hundreds of school children each year across the region.
It was in one of these classrooms that the power of music to touch a young heart was made abundantly clear. As we began one of our demonstrations, one particular young boy was clearly going to be a challenge. His teacher was sitting right next to him, he was shouting obscenities and when I decided to engage him directly, he replied “I’m gonna pop a cap in your butt.” Yes… this was a third grader. However, by the end of the class, he was no longer fidgeting, no longer causing a ruckus. As we left, he said to me “I want to have your soul so that I can play the trumpet like you.”
I often say that my trumpet saved my life. It allowed me to express myself where I couldn’t otherwise. In this instance, a young boy got it. Not only understood the surface issues about how my instrument worked, but understood the deeper and mysterious side of making music. Regardless of whether he plays the trumpet, that connection is priceless. Could this be the beginning of a better future for him?
For our art form to survive into the future, we need to plant the seeds now for the artists, audience, and benefactors for future generations. The Adopt-A-School program is a unique investment the Albany Symphony makes in our community and the future through this multi-year program with students and teacher. As opposed to most programs of its type, the Albany Symphony builds a long-term relationship with these students which will reap a much greater return on each dollar invested.
I hope that you will consider making an especially generous gift to the Albany Symphony’s education programs. Be part of the village that supports the life changing connections to students and nurtures the artists of tomorrow. Your investment in the Albany Symphony makes a significant difference and is greatly appreciated.
I thank you in advance for your support.
Principal Trumpet, Albany Symphony Orchestra