Hometown: Summerfield, North Carolina
Member of the Nashville Symphony since 2000
What inspired you to become an orchestra musician, and when did you know that this was what you wanted to do?
I grew up in a church. My sister and I were both really into the piano, and we’d accompany the church choirs. I started playing the trumpet in seventh-grade band and didn’t start horn until I was a junior in high school. My mom found me a teacher, and I picked it up really quickly.
In my senior year, I had earned a scholarship to get an engineering degree at NC State, but my heart wasn’t in it. I was in youth orchestra at the time, and I decided that I wanted to go into music instead. My dad always told us to find jobs that made money, but I wound up becoming a musician, my sister’s a teacher and my brother’s an agronomist. We all went the way we wanted, and everybody’s pretty happy!
Which composers’ music do you most enjoy performing?
I really love the Russian composers – Prokofiev and Shostakovich. I adore their horn writing, the darkness of their music. I don’t know what it is about that period of Russian writing that appeals to me – I suppose everything that was going on at the time.
What’s most challenging and rewarding about playing the horn?
As far as brass instruments go, the horn is a little more difficult to be accurate on, but the payoff is that the sound is like no other instrument. I love the blend you can get with woodwinds, strings and other brass. Someone told me once that sound of horn and cello are closest to the sound of the human voice.
What is it like to work at Nashville Symphony?
I love my colleagues, and my section in particular. We get along every day. I can’t wait to come to work with them. I love this building, and I think it’s easy sometimes to take for granted that we get to rehearse in a space like this. I can’t think of another better job.
I woke up thinking of a friend who plays in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, how horrible their weather has been and how hard they work, and I realized how lucky I am to have my job and be happy in what I do here.
Does your work as a musician influence or inspire other aspects of your life?
I’m a living, breathing conduit for this music, so it influences all aspects of my life. I was working out yesterday, and a trainer came up to me and said, “Your breathing is so good.” I said, “It’s part of my life now.” I’m approaching everything as breathing, playing — it’s the same thing.
Music is as easy as breathing to me these days. It’s a new approach for me think of the smoothest way to do things, instead of muscling through — it’s about the flow.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not rehearsing or performing?
I am quite into cycling; I’ve been a cyclist for 12 years. Any spare time I spend with my son, doing 9-year-old things like bike riding and playing catch in the backyard.
What do you like about living and working in Nashville?
What I love about Nashville is that you still have all the big-city things in a small town. The weather is pleasant, the people are pleasant. You can still find any kind of cultural event or food, and what attracts me about the music industry in Nashville is the diversity — the different types of music and recording projects. I could end up recording Christmas music any day of the year. There’s a lot going on. Other orchestra musicians who’ve moved here say how nice it is to have opportunities to perform other types of music here, whereas in other cities the orchestra is all they’ve got to do.
What would you most like people in the audience to know about the Nashville Symphony?
I would like them to know that each performance is unique, in part, because of the audience. I don’t think people realize, being that close to the stage, we really can feel the energy coming off of them. I love it.