Once Upon a Time….in a tiny Oklahoma farming community…a blond haired four-year-old was laying at the feet of his beloved grandmother. Open on the floor was an old hymnbook which the boy was using as his ‘piano’. "Grandma, what is the name of this one”, the boy asked? Grandma Kemp’s voice was sweet as they sang together while the ‘piano’ was played with great diligence. This was a favorite activity for both. I don’t remember that grandma ever really looked at the book.
My other childhood memory is of holding my sister Wanda’s hand and singing “It Is No Secret What God Can Do” in front of that country church where my aunt played the piano, my uncle preached, and my father lead the singing.
After 13 years of begging, my father bought an old upright piano from the owner an former two-room country school house. This is the school which my father attended from 1916 until 1924 when he had to leave to help on the farm. The school was also used as a country church and meeting house. I can remember attending services and singing my first solo in the early 1952. The treasured piano had been seldom tuned but in use all that time. And so, began my musical education.
Sixty-eight years have passed, including a four-year period of Military Service in the US Navy, a Bachelor of Arts in Music (Cameron University), a Master of Music in Vocal Production (Southeaster Louisiana University), and a Master of Fine Arts in Drama & Communications (University of New Orleans). My salary mostly came from conducting church choirs and teaching general music in private schools. Composing the music that I wanted or needed seemed natural and started in earnest in about 1987.
While I was in the Navy I served as a Chaplain’s Assistant my music was a rare tool for their use but the job left me with extra time in the office which I used to teach myself guitar and recorder. This was about 1970 and it took 25 years for me to find someone to join me for recorder duets.
New Orleans had been my home for about 15 years and my current church job was very rewarding. One of my altos asked me if she could play the recorder during some of the hymns. She was a good player and added lovely descant parts on her alto recorder. We began to play together and at one of our sessions she asked, "Why didn’t I play with the New Orleans Recorder Society". My reaction was one of shock! I had never heard of such a thing. The old phrase, “Beginning of a love affair” is perfect here.
Another member of that same choir heard of a teaching position at Ursuline Academy. They had a long history of having a first-rate music program and provided me with all the instruments I requested. The fourth, fifth, and sixth grades played SATB recorders. The Ursuline Recorder Consort was a joy to teach and conduct. My love affair continued.
Now that my retirement allows more time for composing I have set a goal of adding to the recorder literature which is available from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries by arranging composition by great composers. There are also a few originals.