Music Composer inspires local band
As school comes to a close, so do the spring sports, music, clubs, and other activities. Only for them to then be restarted anew the next year.
The last band concert for the graduating class was held on a humid May day last Thursday, and it was once again as eventful as ever. The concert band is known for its slow senior piece every year, but a new addition seems to be the center of almost every band concert so far. If you can recall the eccentric “Godzilla Eats Las Vegas,” then you probably think it’s as memorable as composer Dr. Benjamin Taylor did.
“It was a coincidence,” he had told me. “I was looking through YouTube, and I stumbled across the K-M Band video from last year. It’s a hard piece, and I knew I wanted to be apart of it.”
He then got into contact with the K-M Band director, Tony Boldt, and from there the idea took off. Successfully through a music grant, made out by the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council, Dr. Taylor could travel from his Indiana home to Minnesota to assist and perform with the K-M Bands for their last band concert of the school year.
The freshman band performed his piece “Into the Mist,” before telling the crowd of his visualizations of the future, and how unclear certain goals can be. The sophomore band played “Motorcycle Time,” beforehand recalling the motorcycle lessons that he got in his church’s parking lot. And finally, the concert band played his piece “Seeds of Glass,” that went along with a captivating video. One wouldn’t have worked without the other, he had told the audience.
It’s obvious that you can draw inspirations from almost everything. “From visual art to books to just an idea, or a hobby,” Dr. Taylor told me. “I draw inspiration from everywhere, from everything.”
A composer’s job is one of fascination, as many people like to listen to music of course, but most don’t understand the process of actually making music. Dr. Taylor says he works mainly off improve. Playing a tune, or messing around, then recording it, playing it back again, and then finding something he likes. He makes it seem so simple, but I would wager it isn’t as easy as he claims. Then again, he seems to be a natural with music.
“I’ve been taking piano lessons since I was 8. Before that I used to mess around with the piano at my house, I was probably about 3 or 4 years old when I introduced myself to music,” he said. “But almost every Sunday night we used to go over to my grandpa’s house and sing and play music together.”
His grandpa was the one to teach him how to play string instruments too, from guitar to banjo to ukulele, Dr. Taylor knows how, and he teaches too. “I have about a dozen private lesson students,” he told me.
He’s very accustomed to working with kids, as many of the pieces he commissions are to middle school, high school, and college band students. “I absolutely love working with kids, they have such a special energy. They have a huge appreciation for new music.”
There is a great benefit to working with a composer too, and Mr. Boldt was absolutely thrilled with the idea of working with Dr. Taylor. “I absolutely love working with the fact that he created it and he knows how it should be performed.” Mr. Boldt said, “His pieces are cool and inventive and extremely creative, and it was so nice to work on all the pieces with him.”
When I asked Mr. Boldt if he would ever invite another composer again to help with the bands and a piece, he didn’t even hesitate to tell me. “Yes, absolutely. Every year, every other year, I would. It would be great to work with another composer again.”
Dr. Taylor left a great impression on the band, and on the audience also. His music was certainly new, and the K-M Band was lucky to have worked with him. “It has been so cool,” Dr. Taylor had told me. “Guest composing andplaying trumpet with the band. It has all worked out so beautifully.”