This last weekend Joe and I participated in the 50th anniversary of Utah State’s alumni band. It was a two-day event that brought in special conductor Col. Arnald Gabriel—Conductor Emeritus of the United States Air Force Band—for the big finale concert.
This wasn’t my first time to play under the Colonel. He was one of the conductors at that fateful 1997 Midwestern Music Camp at KU that changed my life forever.
At a picnic the first night of the alumni celebration, I went up to say hello and introduce Joe and told him it was a reunion 16 years in the making. I told him I had been one of the many campers he influenced over the years and that it was that summer I knew I wanted to be a musician forever. I didn’t know whether to thank him or blame him!
He laughed and said, “do you remember what we played??” I told him I’d never forget. It was this – who wouldn’t want to be a horn player after performing a piece like this?:
Band Camp jokes aside, the few weeks I spent in Lawrence, Kansas altered everything. I can still picture the classroom I was sitting in when the horns had just finished a sectional on the Overture to Hansel and Gretel when I knew I wanted to be a horn player. Nothing could ever give me so much of a high. That piece still holds an extremely special place in my heart – it was even played at our wedding.
That camp also gave me an even greater gift – the most incredible lifelong friend, Bobbie. We met the first night when she came up to me on our way to dinner to ask if I was a horn player. Life changing moment.
I could—and will—write entire posts on Bobbie, but this is just one of the many ways that camp influenced my life and how wonderfully special it was to see Col. Gabriel again. Sweet, sweet memories.
The next day we played a fantastic concert and at the end, true to form, he held up his signature “I love you” hand signal to the band and I almost lost it. We love you too, Colonel. Thank you for everything.