It took a lot for me to enroll at Illinois State as a graduate composer, since I had been a pianist first and foremost at Augustana College. But when I made that decision and learned about the thesis process, I knew from that moment what piece it would become. I had no clue how to make it work or what musical ideas it would have, but I knew that my thesis piece would honor the memory of my grandfather. Now that I've completed the piece and have begun engraving it, it's time I share with the world what this piece truly is and why it's a piece that I needed to write.
HK Hinkley loved radio, classical music, Star Trek, church, electronics, biking, bad jokes, and his family. What does HK stand for? Well, Handsome Kid, obviously. I don't think there has been a single person who didn't enjoy spending time with him, and it was always a highlight to go and spend time in Freeport with Grandpa and Grandma. We always had to get Union Dairy ice cream during a visit, and we never missed a chance to visit Krape Park (seriously the best public park I have ever visited). I could go on and on about how great of a person HK was in life, right up until the day he died, but by then we'd have missed breakfast AND lunch, and we can't have that.
HK died in August 2013, just a few weeks before I was due to start my freshman year at Augustana. It took me a few years to realize this, but despite all the wonderful memories I already had with him, I missed out on another potentially even deeper connection in the form of music. I honestly hadn't been much of a fan of classical music until I actually played Beethoven for the first time at Augustana, so I was never able to share my new passion with HK, at least in this life. Therefore, I wanted to memorialize him and his hobbies in music, and that piece has become Symphony No. 1 — For a Handsome Kid, written for wind ensemble.
I can't imagine a better focus to have for my first symphony, and I am so thankful for my teachers who have helped me to develop a clear and coherent compositional skillset that I can count on to faithfully honor my grandpa. I am so excited to finish this project that I have dreamed about for nearly two years, and I absolutely cannot wait to share it with the world. I'll be posting more about the specifics of this piece in the near future, as well as hopefully details about when I'll be able to have it read by the ISU Wind Symphony. Until then, I'll leave you with a quote that you might recognize from Lewis Carroll that my grandpa loved to recite:
"Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"