Hometown: Houston, TX
Alma maters: Baylor University and University of Miami
Appearances: Florida Grand Opera, Miami, 2015-2016; Palm Beach Symphony, 2015-2016; Ensemble-in-Residence at Connecticut Summerfest, 2016; Miami Summer Music Festival, 2015; Miami Symphony Orchestra, 2013-2014; Ensemble-in-Residence at soundSCAPE, Maccagno, Italy, 2014; Texas Music Festival, 2014; Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra, 2013-2016; Sō Percussion Summer Institute, Princeton, 2013; Chosen Vale Percussion Seminar, NH, 2012
Musical origins: I was nicknamed “Thumper” by my parents before I was even born, because I kicked hard to the sound of drums in the local marching band. Then, as a toddler, I used the dishwasher dishes to play drums in the kitchen. I started “serious” studies at age 11 in the school band program.
How did you hear about TŌN? I heard about the timpani auditions last year from my teacher, inspiring me to anticipate the opening of a percussion position this year.
Favorite piece to play: Orchestral: Rite of Spring; Opera: Bernstein’s Candide; Chamber: Reich’s Sextet
Favorite obscure piece: George Crumb’s Unto the Hills
Favorite composer fact: According to Alex Ross, in Vienna, 1928, George Gershwin met his idol, Alban Berg, who had the Kolisch Quartet play him the “Lyric Suite.” Gershwin then sat down at the piano, but hesitated, wondering aloud whether he was worthy of the occasion. “Mr. Gershwin,” Berg said sternly, “music is music.” Similarly, following Cathy Berberian’s premiere of John Cage’s experimental, graphic score, “Aria,” an old Italian woman approached Cage and asked him why he would “allow that lady to do such obscene things.” Cage responded by telling her a story about a woman who lived in a small village. She was so beautiful that every man from the age of six to sixty wanted to be with her. “One day,” he said, “she took off all her clothes and went for a swim in the lake, and the fish were scared.”
Favorite musical memory: My first experience with Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 was also the first time I was moved to tears by music. I was 19, and had frankly never been very interested in orchestral music. That piece changed everything.
Which composer would have had the best social media: John Cage. He provoked, made light of, offended, and inspired with his vast variety of musics and philosophies.
Favorite fact about your instrument: Percussion is literally limitless. As John Luther Adams points out, there are strings, winds, and voices; then there is percussion, which is everything else.
The thing most people don’t know about classical music is: Good “classical” music did not stop 100 years ago. We just quit teaching the younger generations how to appreciate it when it continued evolving. New listeners do not understand what to listen for in the old music. Seasoned listeners do not know what to listen for in the new music. All eras of classical music contribute to a growing, relevant, thriving performance art today.
Favorite non-classical band: Either The Roots, Rebirth Brass Band, or Youngblood Brass Band. New Orleans inspires so much great music.
Musical guilty pleasure: Christmas music. I’m very pretentious and judgmental about cheesiness and overplaying in music, but I can’t help myself during the holiday season.
Best music to have on repeat: Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3, “of Sorrowful Songs”
Proudest accomplishment: Being paid to perform contemporary chamber music. It’s tougher than it looks.
Favorite non-musical hobby: I love the outdoors and experiencing new beers. I also find that they work well in succession.
Last book read: The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which I read immediately following his biography by Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.
Piece of advice for a young classical musician: Do not allow yourself to make so much music that you have no time left to listen to it. When musicians stop listening, they lose sight of why others should listen to them.