Unlike most, I always knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. Coming from a musical family, sound, organized or otherwise, was was always around me. Both of my mother’s parents were classical piano teachers and my father’s brother was a professional pianist. Interestingly and maybe even sadly, I never sought nor was given piano lessons. This did not prevent me from exploring the sounds that could be coaxed from the two grand and one upright pianos that were in the house.
Outside the home there were two incredibly powerful experiences that have had a lasting influence on my sense of what music should or could be. The first was hearing the Nuns at Notre Dame Novitiate sing Gregorian chant at the many masses I served as an alter boy. The second was a quite different experience: standing in front of Stan Kenton’s big band – the one with the mellophoniums at some ballroom in Lowell and being overwhelmed by more sound than I thought was possible to generate.
My parents didn’t want me to study music but I was stubborn, they relented, and I attended the Berklee College of Music, majoring in Arranging and Composition. From there I went to the University of Toronto, which had the second oldest electronic music studio in North America (the oldest being at Columbia University), and received a graduate degree in composition.
I was a founding member of the Canadian Electronic Ensemble. I hosted a contemporary music program on CBC Radio called Two New Hours. I taught at Berklee and Northeastern University. My music was awarded a number of prizes, including “Best Broadcast of Canadian Music” for a piece called “Ecce Lignum Crucis”, which was a setting of the Easter liturgy for voices, orchestra, and electronics.
The influences of my youth have never left me and have only become stronger. Music for me has always been about some vague mystical, spiritual quality that is balanced by secular, corporeal, and dissonant elements that together form a complete, though never completely accurate picture of what is human emotion. Music is and always has been about emotion, especially those emotions that cannot be easily put into words. If it were possible to express these myriad emotions with words, I suppose I might have always wanted to grow up to be a poet.