This is an article I wrote for the New York City Brass Conference Book that the Collin Family puts on every year in NYC. However, I was never that popular in New York City because I was trying to be a musical artist and not a musician. This confused many people so I wrote about it. Because of the humor and the tone they never put it in the Brass Conference Book. So much for musical art in New York City. A lot of music is being played in NYC but not much art music as I use to say and still say.
Brass Conference book by Greg Waters Sept. 22, 1977
I am really a famous person except for a few people who may not know me. I believe that number to be about 8 billion or more. So, I would like to say hi to all my new friends who might take time to read the following material that I put together for your enjoyment. I hope! At first I was thinking about paying somebody to write this article so he or she could say how wonderful things have been and will be. Dig that England..... But after thinking about the time and expense involved. I thought the readers of the New York Brass Conference Book 1978 would have to listen to me telling you how wonderful things are and will be. Don't give up on me yet I get more serious later. It's almost displeasing. Though what can I do but try to tell it as I see it. DEEP!
Getting down to the meat of this article. I must say I have spent most of my life trying to be an Artistic person first and a performer of music second. I have done the usual things like getting up every morning and trying to go to bed every night and between these times being a human being. Forgive me, I left out music. Well, this must really tell you a lot about me and my music. OH! I forgot to tell you I am a composer and performer of music.
People put down everything and everybody about everything so I will not talk about the good and bad things about music. What does that mean" I'll talk about an Artist of Music. For if you walk up to me and ask me what I do I would tell you that I am an Artist of Music. Who is he kidding? Then some bright young person may ask, "what is an Artist of Music." And then what do I say" To put it frankly, I do not believe people want to know what is an Artist of Music. It has been my experience to be true so I will not say anything about it for no one would understand anyway. And if I tried like a fool to tell someone they would: walk off, put down, act important, count their money, tell you the wonderful things they have been doing, start talking about another subject, turn around and talk to their other friends, OH, talk about the great artists of the past; but no one seems to know what is an artist of the present? What a problem? For I have spent most of my life finding out about this and I can say it is an experience. An artist of the present is complete in himself; an individual, a light in the darkness, standing alone, a hero, a dream, a wonderful dream, the sound of heaven, the peace of the saints, the glory of man, the love of life, the happiness of children, the man who can see his own soul is the artist.
The next question is. You do not really believe that? If you do you must be crazy! What can I say? What kind of ego trip are you on? That guy is far out! That just doesn't sell! ENOUGH ABOUT THIS????????????????
What about me as a everyday person. What have I done? Marital Status: Somehow women have allowed me to be single until the age of twenty nine, which I really have not wanted. Luck? Now I am married and have a wonderful wife, Tomoko, who plays the Violin, and two children, Akiko and Takuya. (Side note my wonderful wife divorced me because She thought I was a crazy artist and ran away with the kids I have not seen them in 20 years) I have since learned that is a wonderful wife! I think? She almost killed me. Is that a wonderful wife or not?
Clubs or Fraternities: I must confess that I have always been very busy studying music and did not have time, "past or present", to be a member of many clubs. Although in high school I was a member of the football team, basketball team, track team, concert band, dance band, Milwaukee Elks Youth Band, All City Orchestra, student council, Junior Year Court and Home Coming Court. One of my football coaches in high school said to me that I was the best football high school guard he had seen in his career. Our team won the championship that year and seven teammates made the All Conference Team including me. Also I had my own jazz combo and performed with the Jim Robak Orchestra. Jim's band is still going strong in Milwaukee, Wisconsin I believe.
How I became a writer of music: To write music came to mind when I was very young (sixth grade) though I thought that, before becoming a composer, I had first to be a performer of excellent quality. Every time I performed music I was studying how it was written. This has given me an intuitive understanding of composition.
From an artistic point of view, I have always been a successful musician, according to my personal musical development. However, as every one's life moves from one tragic event to another, so I must confess this== I was solo clarinetist in the High School Concert Band in Brookfield, Wisconsin, in my tenth grade, by the time I was in grade eleven, my position In the clarinet section was last due to considerations other than music. Being subject to authority, I was, of course, wrong; but being honest with myself, I must admit that I was right. At that time I decided to remove my presence from the band. All was not lost! in school during grade ten I received a three week summer music scholarship at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. It was very enjoyable and one of the beautiful periods to remember in my life. But I must confess that I was fifth chair clarinet at the camp because The man who auditioned the clarinets had the preceding four auditions for pupils. These incidents have taught me much about the average man. Merit, apparently, does not always have anything to do with a person's position.
After high school, the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, offered me a chamber scholarship for their summer music clinic. This was a great event for me because I was around outstanding professionals from the New York Woodwind Quintet and the Fine Arts Quartet, all of whom are fine teachers. Only years later did I realize what a wonderful foundation I was forming. I spent three summer sessions at the summer clinics.
During my first year out of high school, all my friends were talking about North Texas State University (Now University of North Texas) and what a fine jazz program they had. So, as young as I was, I made the decision to travel a thousand miles to learn music. The train ride down to Texas is very vivid to this day because of my intense need to learn music. In my opinion, I learned all I could have at North Texas.
There I learned how to perform at a professional level, getting experience which is so very difficult for the learning musician. The major performing events at North Texas were: Three Clarinet Chamber Music Recitals, the Concert Band, the Orchestra, and I also played with the famous North Texas on o'clock Jazz Lab Band.
Outside of school activities, I played with the Buddy Morrow Orchestra, and the famous Billy May Orchestra. In addition I was Solo Clarinetist with the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra. At this time Centenary College, Shreveport, Louisiana, offered me a full college scholarship which I could not accept for personal reasons. Later, I went to Mexico's International Music Festival with members of the Dallas Symphony performing West Side Story. Also the woodwind department, at school, offered me several clarinet music performance scholarships.
I was very active in the local church in Denton. I wrote church music for the Sunday services once in awhile and made up my own service with paintings, a speech, a drama, J.S. Bach's music, a composition for Clarinet alone and several jazz compositions. This, to me, was the outstanding event of those years. Now, in retrospect, I can really appreciate what I was doing, for I must confess that at the time I did not understand the undertaking and the difficulties it would be to bring a new approach to others with music and relating that to Art with worship. For real music is the reflection of God's presence on earth or the spirit of life as one would say in Yoga.
This reflection into the meaning of music has given me a wide view of living with my reading interests that are usually aimed at the serious level; history, novels, mysticism, philosophy, memoirs, biographies, music history, psychology, drama, and religion.
After graduation from North Texas I went back to Milwaukee, formed a jazz quartet and performed an extensive night club date. That summer I also attended the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and started the serious study of composition.
It was a very good summer from a musical viewpoint. However, I needed a change, so I decided to find a teaching position since my first school degree was in Music Education. All new teachers have a difficult time but I, being a dedicated musician, found it more difficult, because the students knew my nature more than I at that time. I did a fine job with the orchestra, while at Walker Junior High School in Milwaukee, and one of the teachers told me that the music program had really improved in the string department, since he could not remember when they had sounded as good. (At this time I met the father of the two boys for whom I later composed a concerto for two violins and orchestra.) However, I was upset, because I could not get the support I needed from the school administrators to do the job that I had to do, because my nature has always demanded high standards in music.
During this semester I came across an old friend, Fred Zinos; He told me about Dr. Bernard Dieter of Chicago Conservatory college and what a genius is was. So, on Saturday, I took the train every week to Chicago to study with Dr. Dieter, who taught me the technical knowledge I needed to help complete my compositional goal of being a composer, which I had set for myself back in the sixth grade. (At one time in Dr. Dieter's career he was offered the position of head of the composition department at Dullard School of Music in NYC. Meeting this man, who retired just last year, was to me the highlight of my musical education career because he had the humility to teach me what I dearly wanted, to fulfill my dream of becoming a composer. I must comment that very many people in my life have really done more harm to me than good. As famous composer said, "I could only suffer, suffer and suffer." I found it very difficult to be happy with my life for I could not find people to communicate my ideas too. Please let me say that I realize that other people have enemies and suffer; but I believe that the talented, because they have more, and feel deeply for others, also suffer much in giving, without thought of reward. I cannot understand why a man who has much to give and wants to give cannot reach the people who he wants to communicate with. A great contradiction in an artist life which I had to learn how to deal with. I realized too how important it was for an real artist to overcome these barriers.
The next semester (Jan., 67) I became a full time student at the Conservatory where Dr. Dieter helped me write a Concerto for Two Violins and Orchestra which Francis D'Albert, a man who will always be in my heart, and who was President of Chicago Conservatory College, said of the Concerto, "It is as fine as any piece of music written in this century." Dr. D'Albert asked me to become a faculty member at the Conservatory. I accepted and taught part time until I moved to Canada.
While living in Chicago, I performed with the Ralph Marterie's Orchestra who had an outstanding musical group. Soon I had a full time position at Senn High School, teaching the Orchestra, which was a very fulfilling experience for me. Also, I formed my own jazz trio, and entered a Midwest Jazz Festival and received the American Music Foundation Award for outstanding woodwind performer at the this event. This also included a music scholarship to the Berkeley School of Music, Boston.
Old Town Chicago on Sundays I played sessions, jazz, with musicians like John Wright, Piano, Wilbur Ware, bass, Art Taylor, drums, Corky, Bass, Fox, drums, Erma Gene Thompson, piano, John Klemmer, tenor and others. (While in Texas I played Sunday sessions with Billy Harper who recently came to town with the Thad Jones, Mel Lewis Band.) On Tuesday nights I went to sessions with Eddie Harris. We had a good talk the last time Eddie was in town. Performing with these great jazz musicians has given me the confidence and experience to create my own jazz style and to feel the confidence to teach jazz at a professional level.
In the summer of 1968 I made the biggest decision of my life, for the political decisions which the United States had been making forced me to consider my home country not a decent place in which to live. I looked to the north for my salvation, and when I crossed the border, I came into a less oppressive atmosphere. I had spent eight years in and out of school, playing many different roles, so that it was not only a moral decision, but also it was a needed rest from tension. Although Canada, my new home, had few cultural support sources to help me be a composer; I had the feeling that I had been in artistic retirement from both the public and the musicians, but I was independently working for the future.
The highlight of my career in Canada was having met a philosopher painter yogi, Alfred Schmielewski, and his wife, Bianca Rogge, to me Canada's Genius in the modern dance movement. These two wonderful people taught me much about the "divine" aspect of the creative artists life, hence: "Only the poet understands the poet."
What I had been doing in Canada: I started my own music school, The Greg Waters Academy of Music. At that time I was organizing the Toronto Youth Jazz Orchestra, which I believe was so needed in Toronto for the proper education of the serious young artistic studio musician. Together with devoted friend, as Bob Festoon, I have formed a jazz group; also I was writing pop songs for a poet named Willie Winkler; I composed a Sanctus for Dr. Ouchterlony, of the Royal Conservatory of Music; a Trio Sonata for the Lyric Arts Trio of Canada, and a Concerto for Violin and Orchestra for Francis D'lbert.
While living in Toronto, I performed for about a three year period in the hotels backing name acts like Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, Rich Little, etc., (you name the act I've played it.) That was when I really became involved in the studio musician scene. I got into really doubling and now I have 15 instruments or more, clarinets, saxes, flutes, bassoon, and recorders, for studio work. This made me learn many different styles of playing. Remember, an Artist of Music ahs to earn a living too and I really do not like selling hot dogs, pumping gas, working for lawyers, or any other job of that nature. I was always happy playing my instruments at lease for awhile until on found out how awful it really was.
Another part of my musical life in Canada was I was commissioned to compose compositions for such groups as the Central Band of the Canadian Forces, the Different Drummers Woodwind Group from Hamilton and Ottawa Symphonies. Also, I was happy to compose music for the Toronto Music Educators Assoc.. All these compositions were funded by the Ontario Arts Council.
In January, 1975, my court case was won in the states and I could return legally to my home country. Toronto and Canada could not give me the musical experience I was looking for I had to move to NYC. New York has been an exciting, difficult and rewarding place for me. As usual I was active in three areas of music, performing, composing and conducting. IN the big apple I have been performing in shows, club dates, studio work, recitals, and jazz concerts. On the composing side I have spent most of the time writing for my 13 piece band. On the conducting side I have been conducting the band members into the mainstream of my personal approach to music.
IN 1974, I may add I produced my first jazz album called Mission and was very happy about the results. Because this is an artistic record rather than a profit seeking record it was impossible for me to reach a broad audience.
Reviews of the first Album:
The members of my jazz ensemble were Mario Rivera, Bari Sax, Vinnie De La Rocce, Tenor, Morty Silver, Alto, Bob and Glenn Zottola, Tp. Keith O Quinn, Trombone, Mark Sheppard, Bass Trombone, John Riley, Drums, Mike Lawrence, Bass, Mike Garson, Piano, and Mark Elf, guitar. A great group of musicians I am only sorry I could not provide them with work.
These last three years have brought me a performing jazz grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and several concerts from the New York State Council on the Arts called Meet the Composer Concerts. My greatest joy was to hear my solo violin Sonata, duet sonata and viola and Violin Sonata on one of these programs, performed by Masako Yanagita and Tomoko Sakata.
This has been a short written essay on my work as a musician. I would like to say it is so difficult to be a composer of serious music. I do not know how I did what I did. Without great musicians to perform my music it is meaningless at times I do not know what to do so I do nothing.
The last five years 1996 to 2001 I have not done much have been tired out from all the work and little success. My wives has made my life a nightmare. My first wife taking the children and I have not seen for 20 years a terrible action and very sad for me in my life. My second wife an alcoholic who would never stop drinking so very sad too it almost killed me. Not having sisters I never knew how selfish women could be I always view women as a looking caring person as my Mother was to me. But it took a life time to learn that women are not your Mother.
I turned to Yoga for my strength and life. Life without Yoga is not life. If you want to be a real artist you must study Yoga. http://yogayogayoga.org this will give you the strength to move into the world of real art and the only art. Yoga is Art. Art is Yoga. Music is materialism. This was very sad for me when I learned that music was no different than a hot dog. But when you study yoga and the art of yoga you will learn the fine line between musical art and materialism. Most all music is materialism, but at times it reaches the divine. Let us learn to be on that fine line of divine music. This is the meaning of my life is divine music. There is no more to say.
Greg Henry Waters, Acapulco Mexico March 15, 2001