How did you initially get involved with the ASO and its music education program?
I've had my own foundation going on for five years. Recently I've wanted to expand what we're doing in the Atlanta area, and I wanted to do something that I was really passionate about. We started brainstorming about ways that I could get involved with music. I played when I was a kid, and I've had that passion ever since. We just wanted to put something together where I could do music and also help kids. It was actually my publicist who thought of reaching out to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
The press release says you used to play tuba in high school. How did you get started on such an unusual instrument? Do you still play now?
In sixth grade, we either had to be in band, orchestra or choir. I can't sing a lick so that narrowed down my options for me. I actually wanted to play the drums, but the conductor took me through a couple drills and politely suggested I play tuba. I really took a liking to it after that. I haven't played since 11th grade. They're pretty hard to come by. I was actually looking for one the past couple months: they're not exactly common. I think with the the help of the ASO, we're narrowing our search down.
Most people think of football and orchestral music as being about as different as two things can be. Have you found any similarities in the two?
The first thing that's most obvious is the teamwork aspect. It takes 11 people on a football field to produce a good play. In an orchestra, it can be over 100. I got to experience that over the last two days. practicing with everyone. There are a lot of other things. You have to think quickly. Things change a lot on a football field, and there's a lot happening as well when you're interacting with over 100 people every day.
Have you heard from your teammates about your conducting gig? What's been their reaction?
Nothing yet, but I have a feeling come Friday they'll have a lot to say.
What's the hardest aspect of conducting for the first time?
It's so tough to mark time with one hand and then you have to cue people and keep your place on the score. That was probably the toughest part for me. There are so many things going on at the same time, and you have to try to look natural. Not having done it before, I have quite a healthy respect for conductors now.
Did [Youth Orchestra Music Director] Jere Flint give you any helpful advice?
Don't fall down.
The Atlanta Falcons' Justin Blalock will lead the combined Atlanta Symphony and Youth Orchestras in a performance of John Williams' "Raiders March" from the "Indiana Jones" films in a "side-by-side" concert Thursday, June 15. Tickets are $5. Call 404-733-5000 or visit the ASO for more information.
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