It all started with a scratched and dented cornet. But at the age of eleven and with no money of his own, that horn was like a precious treasure to him. As he played in the Salvation Army Band, he held the cornet high and blew with pride … a budding musician.
By the time he reached high school, he had moved on to a bigger and better instrument, a euphonium, becoming Principal Euphonium player with the Kansas All-State High School Band. The battered cornet now had a place of honor on a shelf in the small area he called his room.
His graduation from high school was the springboard to get him away from the poverty and oppressed religious life that had been forced upon him. The Navy offered a way of escape … and he took it. Four years of his life were dedicated to playing his euphonium as a U. S. Navy Musician.
Now with a wife and child he chose Colorado as his new home, where he became Principal/Solo Euphonium with the Colorado State University Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and Principal Trombone with the CSU Symphony Orchestra.
His second child was due any day when he received a phone call from the Navy. He had been selected to audition for a spot in the Naval Academy Band … and he had to travel to Maryland to perform. Placing his little family in the car, he drove through the night to the town in Kansas where he had grown up, left his son and very pregnant wife there with her aunt … picking up his sister and her finance’. After a fast-paced trip across the United States, he arrived in the Annapolis area in time to shave, clean up and put on a suit in the filling station’s bathroom.
He passed the audition.
He drove quickly back to Kansas, arriving in time for the birth of his daughter. Within days the family’s residence was no longer Colorado, but Maryland.
With the U. S. Naval Academy Band, he was the Principal/Solo Euphonium. He also played trombone with the big band. Within a few years, he became an Assistant Director, U. S. Navy Academy Band, and then Director, U. S. Navy Band, CNATRA. He retired after 20 years.
But he wasn’t through with music.
He became Manager, North American Region Four for Boosey & Hawkes of London, England. They were the manufacturer and distributor of fine musical instruments. He held this position for another 20 years, until he again retired.
He taught Low Brass at Colorado State University, Pueblo, until he retired again. Apparently he never quite understood the meaning of the word retirement. And so he taught euphonium, trombone and tuba at the University of Southern Colorado while performing and teaching as an Artist/Clinician for Besson Brasses.
Other accomplishments include performing with the Fountain Creek Brass Band, the Colorado Brass Band, the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs, and the Colorado Wind Ensemble. He’s past member of the Texas Wind Symphony, the Dallas Tuba/Euphonium Quartet and Ensemble, the Florida Symphonic Band, the Fort Worth Concert Band, the Charlotte Symphony, the Venice Symphony, the Corpus Christi Concert Band, the Rocky Mountain Brassworks, the Little London Winds, the Pueblo Symphony and the Pikes Peak Philharmonic.
He has worked with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, the Denver Municipal Band, the Corpus Christi Symphony, the Florida West Coast Symphony and the Heidelberg, Germany Municipal Band.
Along the way he has appeared with the Four Tops, Patti Page, Holiday on Ice, Joni Mitchell, the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, the Bob Crosby Band, Clark Terry, Frank Rosolino, Urbie Green, Al Hirt, Monty Alexander, Marian McPartland and many other notable entertainers.
And how, you ask, do I know so much about this musician?
He is my brother. I grew up listening to his music, with or without an instrument. I’ve never heard anyone who could whistle like he can. Music and rhythm poured from him no matter what we were doing. If we were eating, his fork was keeping time to the song in his head.
Traveling by car across country, he never missed his practice time. A campground would become a concert hall, people would gather round and he would perform away … enjoying every minute, I might add.
Briefly I was his neighbor in Maryland. That was the only time in my life I got to see him in his uniform and hear his performance. I tried not to yell too loudly … not proud or anything.
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