My Background in the Arts, the Complete Version
(To view a one-page resumé, click the image to the right.)
BEGINNINGS: Like many musicians, I started out playing piano at a young age, about five. The Kravette home always had an antique player piano in the living room and as a child, it was fascinating to pump those foot pedals and watch the ivory keys move to the music. We’d spend hours listening to the music and singing along. When I was in elementary school, we could always hear my Dad playing dixieland piano, and occasionally he brought us to jam sessions with his friends. My brother and sister played trumpet, so clarinet was the next available instrument for the family band. Eventually my dad, brother and I solicited the help of friends who played “gut-bucket” bass, trombone and drums, forming a six-piece dixieland band called, “Evergreen 3+3” (a name taken from the old telephone exchange for our home town). Living on the South Shore of Boston, dixieland and clam bakes went hand in hand so there was always some party or function to gig at.
HIGH SCHOOL: High school was filled with classical music, jazz bands, pit orchestras, district & all-state festivals, and prep department orchestras & wind ensembles at Boston University and New England Conservatory. Living close to Boston brought lots of great opportunities to play. I especially liked studying with conductor and music education specialist, Frank Battisti, at summer camps and in the Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble. (I would end up completing my training with him as a graduate student at NEC years later.) Also, my grandmother owned a townhouse on W 79th Street in Manhattan, so on vacations my brother and I would visit her and catch student ticket concerts at the MET, NY Philharmonic and NYC Ballet.
COLLEGE: I ended up graduating high school early and entered Boston Conservatory of Music as a freshman at age 16. My studies there were with a true gentleman and musician, Attilio Poto. Mr. Poto was clarinetist for the Metropolitan Opera in the 1940’s and also played for the Boston Symphony from 1948-1950 under Serge Koussevitzky and Charles Munch. He had classic technique and was a master in his craft, which he readily passed on to his students. I also had the pleasure of studying there with a great flutist and chamber music genius William Grass, a Boston freelancer. Other highlights were studying music theory with composer John Adams, counterpoint with author Dr. Hugo Norden, and playing in the opera orchestra with the great opera director John Moriarty. I eventually received two degrees from the conservatory, a Diploma in Performance in 1980 and a Bachelor in Music (magna cum laude) in 1982.
From there I attended New England Conservatory where I received a Masters in Music in 1984 (with distinction in performance) and attended a year as an Artist Diploma Candidate in 1985. At NEC I was blessed to study with a treasure store of great teachers like Harold Wright (principle clarinet for the Boston Symphony), Walter Trampler (solo violist), John Heiss (20th century music expert), Gunther Schuller (conductor & founder of the Third Stream Jazz department), and many others. While performing with the NEC Honor’s Woodwind Quintet, we were able to compete in two national chamber music competitions, winning the Saunderson Award at the Coleman Chamber Ensemble Competition, and 2nd prize at the Carmel Chamber Music Awards, receiving the honor of being the highest ranking woodwind quintet.
PERFORMING YEARS: During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s I was performing regularly in the Boston area as clarinet soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral player as principle clarinet for the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra with Benjamin Zander as conductor, the Boston Civic Symphony with Max Hobart as conductor, the New Orchestra of Boston in residency at the Mozarteum in Salzburg Austria, and the Rome Festival Orchestra in residency in Rome, Italy. Summers were usually spent playing clarinet and sax for summer theaters in Cape Cod or resorts in the Berkshires. My final performance in the Boston area was as clarinetist at Chamber Music East for a performance of the Messiaen, Quartet for the End of Time. What a pleasure it was to play with artists Arnold Steinhardt (first violinist of the Guarneri String Quartet), Colin Carr (acclaimed cellist and first prize winner of the Naumburg Competition), and piano legend, Veronica Jochum. You couldn’t ask for a more exciting farewell performance.
TIME IN THE MINISTRY: In 1985, a series of difficult personal events came to a climax and brought about an abrupt spiritual change in my life. It resulted in moving from the east coast to San Diego where I began serving at a large and musically active ministry as an audio/video department head. Duties in my life changed from performing, to mixing audio for events with thousands in attendance & live concert venues with multiple bands; doing sound for televised concerts; working in a recording studio as an audio engineer; and training teams of sound ministry workers and volunteers. I was eventually ordained as a pastor and in 1991 our family moved to New Hampshire where I founded a church and co-founded a performing arts ministry with my wife. The next fifteen years were spent serving as senior pastor, worship leader (on keyboards) and executive director of the performing arts programs. In 2006, we retired from ministry and moved to our current home in Pennsylvania.
TODAY: From age 5 to 55, the one common element in my life has always been music. Over the past 38 years, I’ve been teaching private lessons on clarinet, sax, piano and small ensembles of various types. Today, that teaching schedule is where I’ve found myself settling in once again. Over the years, I’ve had students win competitions to play in District, All-State, All-East, and national bands and orchestras. Some choose to pursue college after high school and have been accepted to New England Conservatory, Boston University, Boyer College at Temple University, Ithaca College, Hofstra University, and others. In 2011 I completed writing my first piano method book for my students called, “Essential Scales & Chords for Keyboard,” which I hope is the first in a series of educational materials. This past year, I’ve also taken a part time position for Apple Computers, assisting customers with iPhones and iPads as a technical service specialist. It’s such an innovative and exciting company to work for!
NEXT STEPS: Next on the list of to-do’s (besides regaining good health) is to complete a method book called, “Introduction to Jazz Theory and Improvisation.” Then, I’m working on a new piano method for older beginners that gets people playing classical, jazz and pop styles of music without having to go through all those “silly” songs found in most modern lesson books.
Yet another project in the works is to form a chamber music society where amateurs and students of all ages can get together for coaching and performances in various small ensembles.
FAMILY: Regarding family life, I’m in my twenty-ninth year of being happily married to a very patient and loving wife who always tolerates the moves and changes in our lives without a complaint. Christy is the epitome of constant optimism, and a tremendous blessing. Our oldest daughter, Anna, lives in Georgia, raising our two grandchildren, and works as a personal fitness trainer. Our second daughter, Sarah, is living her dream out in Grand Junction, Colorado. In addition, I’m blessed to be able to work at Apple with my two sons, Josh and Aaron.
Life is indeed full