First of all, Happy Independence Day! It is a great day to celebrate our freedom, and thank the men and women who have and continue to protect it at home and abroad. I am eager looking forward to celebrating America and Patriotism next Thursday as I guest conduct The Musicians’ Concert Band at Butler Intermediate High School. This free concert begins at 7:30 p.m.

It was an honor to be asked by their conductor and friend Jeff Kroner (Director of Bands, Butler Intermediate & Senior High School). The program includes a number of staples of Patriotic Concert including Bilik “American Civil War Fantasy”, Alfred Reed’s “Rushmore”, Lowden’s “Armed Forces Salute” and the dynamic “Liberty Fanfare” by John Williams. Also to appear on the program is a wonderful contribution by Larry Neeck entitled “Sons of Liberty” (a collection of Revolutionary War Songs), “A Star-Spangled Spectacular” (music of George M. Cohan), and my own “American Visions“.

This band holds a special place in my heart and experience as a young educator. Here I got to know Blase Scarnati. A wonderful musician on the podium, and a gracious man off it. The one thing that Blase said that has stuck with me over the years was this quote “When this (gestures to his wallet becomes worth more than this (gesturing to his heart), we all have a problem.” The other message Blase sent was clear to me – people matter and how we treat them is paramount. Here I talked with Francis McBeth whose advice to me on composing was invaluable. The best advice I ever received was when he told me “The most important resource you can devote to composing is your time.” Here I made connections with mentors who I still call upon and enjoy getting to visit – “Corky” Whitacre, Tom Snyder, Dennis Emert, vince Sanzotti, John Gula, and Gary Taylor.

I hope to see friends and family from the area at the concert. It will be a wonderful evening.

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