The following is one of Robert’s friends’ college essay. I share with his permission.
The ripple effect of someone’s death is … it permeates society in more ways than we can imagine.
Thank you Nate for “playing” the music and for letting me share this.
Oh, good luck with college 🙂
It’s difficult to determine what one musical moment of my life I find most memorable. So many shows, on stage and in the audience, jams, solitary practices, performances of my work, and sparking moments of inspiration have resulted in a state of musical bliss for me. Every composer’s heart melts the first time they hear their work played live, as mine did to my wind ensemble piece being played at my school concert. Every student’s pride soars when commended by an admirable teacher, as mine did presenting my AP theory composition final, which was a string quartet called Cats and Mice. I was very nervous about presenting it but at its ending, my fellow students stood up and clapped and my teacher literally jumped up and down with joy.
I was given my first piano as a surprise gift, been in fantastically interesting exotic instrument shops for hours, seen amazing musicians in New York City, played ukulele for and with my professional heroes in Hawaii, met my first girlfriend racing her to be first at the best tuned piano in our high school, and I’ve jammed full nights with my best friends.
From all these experiences, I can’t say I have one most memorable moment but there is one that I won’t ever describe in as brief words as the others.
In my freshman year of high school I was asked by my friend’s family to write and perform a piece for a suicide awareness event (Get Your Wellness On) at Washington Square Park in the New York City. The fair was organized in honor of my friend’s brother, who I knew growing up. He had suffered from depression and committed suicide as a college student at New York University and this event was a result of the family’s noble intention to provide other students with methods of alleviating mental stress and avoiding such tragedy.
At the time, I was intimidated by the task, remembering the tragedy and the experience of going through my friend’s house, packed with sobbing and comforting relatives, to get to him. On the other hand, I wanted to do whatever I could for the family and despite being relatively new to composition, I mustered up some confidence and wrote a solo piano piece.
Obviously I’ve developed as a composer and would write the piece differently today but regardless, it holds its own very well. My goal was to utilize dissonances both to introduce stress in my first theme and to add color to the soothing second theme. In general its interesting harmonic progressions and many expressions emphasizing dynamics were its main attributes.
The day of the fair, after some free yoga, healthy food and soothing massages, I brought my keyboard to the public stage and played through the performance nerves I was feeling as a young composer. I barely looked up in my focus on the piece’s vital feelings but I finally did raise my head when I got to the ending. My audience had grown quite large. People walking through the park stopped to listen. Some were sitting on chairs, others on the ground. My friend’s mother, the event’s organizer, was in the front row and, very emotionally, she applauded, came on stage and hugged me.
I realized I had completed what was one of the most meaningful things I’ve ever been asked to do and made a family, in difficult circumstances, very happy. I received the indescribable satisfaction I get writing and playing music, the immense pride of pleasing an audience, including people I care a great deal about, and a lot of confidence in my abilities. I don’t doubt that I’ll never forget this moment.
I don’t understand why music makes me feel the way it does or why it doesn’t do the same in everyone else. I think musicians, including me, are strange and obsessive people. That said, I’m ecstatic that I get to be this way because in my fanatical pursuit of development in composition, I’ll have experiences I can’t imagine and if I love the ones I’ve already had as a high school student as much as I do, I think I’ll have a great future to look forward to.