Some people are born to do a thing. From age four I knew that music would be my life. Toting my Magnus chord organ up and down Razor Drive in Greenville, SC, I gave improvised recitals to my indulgent neighbors.
Organ lessons began a few years later. I used the back of the pew in front of me to play along with the organist. Yet, it was the hymn singing that moved me most of all. For years I studied organ, then oboe and clarinet. My high school theory teacher was clairvoyant,
however; she predicted I would one day conduct.
As it happens, I had a natural affinity for the organ and pursued degrees at Baylor and Juilliard. I decided to forego a career as a recitalist after the realization that (as my high school theory teacher had predicted) I really wanted to focus my energies on conducting.
Church jobs with choirs and community college instruction were enough for a while; I wanted to teach, though, and unsuccessfully sought a suitable position. After the third go-round, I quit this country for Italy, where I studied the language and art. And, I ate.
Upon returning, I established my graphic/web design business in Greenville—an ancillary career that has served me well in every position I’ve ever held. Eventually I founded two mens’ choruses (one in Greenville and the second in Asheville, NC) and began to compose in earnest. Although I had no desire to return to New York, from the blue an old friend and former employer called to offer me an interim position at a Park Avenue church.
With its own community chorus (Central City Chorus
) and funds for musicians, I was able to expand my repertoire. Following my two-year term, I worked for a glossy magazine in New York—thinking yet again that I was finished with music.
After the September 11 attacks, I, along with tens of thousands of others, lived in a daze. Unemployed, I could think of nothing that I wanted to do, until I realized that only conducting would bring meaning back into my life.
Pieces fell into place; I moved to Miami to complete my second DMA in choral conducting; along the way, Christus
happened. Returning to school required a tremendous leap of faith, which is itself a testament to how committed I am to making music in an academic setting. My career has been diverse, non-linear, and decidedly non-traditional. I would not (indeed could not) have had it any other way.
While applying for academic positions, I worked full-time as an Art Director for a consumer manufacturing/retail company in Hollywood, Florida. Even though it wasn’t my first calling, it was an excellent job and I enjoyed working there until the economy caused me to be laid off.
It was about this time that I decided to look for church positions as well as academic ones. My father’s health caused me to return to my hometown of Greenville, SC to aid in his care. Eventually I was appointed Director of Choral Activities at the University of South Carolina Upstate
. Unfortunately for me it was adjunct and non-tenure track. So, realizing I needed a full time position with its concomitant salary and health benefits, I applied for and accepted the position at St. John the Beloved Church
in Summerville, SC. After one year I also accepted the position as Catholic choir director at The Citadel
Now I look to the future for the opportunity for which I have waited. Despite my best efforts, the years have shown again and again that I can’t escape my first love and life-calling: music. It is part of my biology; music is in my cells; I live it and it will go with me to my death. I can imagine no better companion and indeed I want no other.