First Music Years

My adult life, and a good deal before, has been governed by solitude and either the active or anticipatory attention required for making art – specifically music, and in rare moods drawing, painting or writing.

I was annealed to the sequestered, secret life in feeling not quite a part of a specific group, in both junior and senior high school. Music however was a mainstay from the age of eleven.

Harry Alto was the name of my first teacher. He came to the house once a week, and brought me my first guitar. After a year of introducing me to the basic styles: classical, folk, rock, country, and the inevitable flamenco, I began to study the passionate, self-reflective Spanish style intensely.

When I was ready for a real flamenco guitar, Harry had a private meeting with my mother, and secured the sale. A wonderful instrument from Paracho Mexico, made by Amescua Geronimo, was to be my muse and workhorse. More than five decades later, I still have it and use it, safe and sound in my studio.

Harry also encouraged me and another student to form a band. Our little ensemble, plugged into one amplifier, played all the late grammar school parties. Versions of this group, with wildly varying personnel, equipment and intentions, would follow me through public school and a few years beyond.

Writing original material was an important focus for me, and was the beginning of what would become the life of a composer. I never truly enjoyed performing, and was always far more interested in the process of creating something new.

Much later however, when in music school, I did become enamored of the early baroque style of Caccini, and considered making a go of a career as an esoteric singer of a forgotten era. And, although flamenco in its purest form is not meant for formal performance, the role of cantaor has always appealed to me, and has seemed strangely suitable.