The grandeur of Carnegie Hall is a far cry from where composer Patrick Hawes began his musical education. In a small English coastal town, Hawes began learning piano as a child at his father’s pub. A pianist there named George Marsden taught Hawes pieces ranging from Roll Out the Barrel to Mozart sonatas.
British composer Patrick Hawes gives an unusual answer when asked if there’s anything career-wise he wishes he could do better. His response: “Nothing.” The reason is based on Hawes’ Christian beliefs. He says he believes his ability to compose choral and symphonic music is a gift from God.
Nearly three decades ago, a group was started with a simple mission – to play contemporary big band jazz, rooted in a traditional style. The brainchild of Stanley Kay, former manager of the Buddy Rich Orchestra, the DIVA Jazz Orchestra started auditioning potential members in 1992 after Kay approached drummer and current DIVA Jazz Orchestra leader Sherrie Maricle about forming the group. Kay had heard Maricle play some years earlier and was so impressed with her talent that he approached her and asked if she knew any other women that played like her.
March 13th marked the 62nd birthday of late composer and musical pioneer Moses Hogan. He is considered a pioneer of the modern spiritual, bringing the heart and soul of these historic songs to choirs across the nation. His work gave voice to the rich, deep history of the genre and brought it into the modern era.
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, composer John Mackey grew up without formal music lessons. Though his mother played the flute and the family owned a piano, he never played either instrument – partly due to the experience of his older sister, Lisa. She hated the piano, and as Mackey relates, he did not care for it either.
Voices from 120 countries unite in one of the most powerful moments in composer Eric Whitacre’s film Deep Field. After the viewer travels through the cosmos via a stunning array of Hubble Space Telescope images, the time comes to return to Earth. At that moment, 8,000 voices ring out above Whitacre’s moving orchestra music. They represent the largest group to sing in one of Whitacre’s “virtual choirs,” and many participants said they were moved to tears when they saw how the final film represented humanity.
In February, we celebrate past presidents and their contributions to our national identity. The legacies of our past leaders are played out in history books and written into law, but who each individual was as a person can often be lost in their great deeds. Luckily, there are pieces of presidential personality still in our possession today that allow us to better understand who these men were, not only through what they did, but also through what they valued.
Ola Gjeilo began composing before he could even read music. When he was a child in Skui, Norway, just outside of Oslo, he taught himself to play the piano and created compositions that his father, an accomplished amateur saxophonist, would write down for him. His father’s love for jazz music led to the heavy influence of jazz in Gjeilo’s music at an early age and a special fondness for the improvisations of pianist Keith Jarrett.
Music, for many, is about joy before anything else. Spend a few short minutes with conductor, composer, and choreographer John Jacobson, and it will quickly become evident that this is the case with him. His passion for music and education are written in his smile and the energy he exudes with each moment spent talking about it. That joy began at a young age.
Alex Meixner’s hands fly across his accordion when he plays crowd favorites at Oktoberfest celebrations across the country. The talented musician, who is known for the Hormel pepperoni commercials and his passion for the accordion, can play thousands of songs and has an encyclopedic knowledge about many styles of folk music. He began to learn how to play the accordion at age four; he now owns 14 accordions and travels with his band. Meixner says he loves how the accordion always gets a crowd reaction.