When I moved to Commerce to resume my undergrad studies in Fall of 2002, I was beaten up pretty badly. Despite having a wonderful opportunity to start with a clean slate, I somehow couldn't let go of the past, and it was affecting me in a bad way. My teacher at the time, Jimmy Clark, told me that the best way to get over this hurdle was to be ready when the call came, and to let my playing do the talking.
So, I waited. Nothing came.
One Friday afternoon, I got a hurried call from the personnel director of the Mesquite Symphony Orchestra needing a last minute fill in on trombone. I finally had my chance!
I showed up to the rehearsal an hour early the next day, warmed up quietly, and took my seat. I wasn't going to blow this opportunity! During the break, the conductor came over, shook my hand, welcomed me, and thanked me profusely for stepping in at the last second.
That gentleman's name was Roger Gilliam, who I found out had passed away this week.
Playing with the MSO two or three times over the next couple of years taught me some valuable lessons, and opened the door to much of my future work in DFW, where I always seem to "come home" to. On the drive home from Durant tonight, I thought back on how life has changed since that first call came in 2002, and a mixture of sadness and a tremendous sense of gratitude overwhelmed me.
Roger, thank you for giving me a chance, so that now, I can give others chances. I'll never forget what you did for me, and for countless others through the years.