Arts & life Editor
The University of Scranton Jazz Ensemble performed with soloists and twin brothers Peter and Will Anderson Thursday at the Houlihan-McLean Center. As an extracurricular activity rather than a credited class, the jazz ensemble attracts the most passionate jazz musicians on campus dedicated to performing music during their college careers. Because the music world is so difficult for artists to mark oneself in, recognition can be challenging and discouraging. However, those who are driven and talented will certainly make it.
At the early age of 14, Peter and Will played in the U.K. They claim their process was “gradual,” however, it is difficult to imagine gradual learners performing in the U.K. before the age of 15. The brothers first learned to play the clarinet, followed by the saxophone, the flute and finally the piano. They both love and appreciate string instruments, but have not yet tried learning them.
“I feel like with the woodwinds I have enough on my plate right now,” Will said.
Peter hopes to pick up the guitar in the future, but is unsure of the time available to him. The brothers practice daily and said that continuing to practice every instrument a little every day is key to becoming a good musician.
“Every day I’ll do a little bit of exercise on things I need to do,” Will said.
When looking back, Peter explained how music was first introduced to them and the crucial key their parents played.
“We started listening to music way before we started playing and it was really thanks to our parents. They would have the radio on all the time, but it was really mainly listening to classical music and jazz music. Our first CD set our parents got us was Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and also lots of Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and stuff like that,” Peter said. “Our parents were very supportive and when they saw we had an interest in (music) they did the necessary things like buy us instruments and get us lessons. All those things really helped and thankfully we were really interested and they were willing to support, so it really worked out.”
Will humorously added the way the two of them expressed their energy towards music at an early age.
“Even earlier than that, when we were 3 and 4 years old, our parents — they would play R & B, rock ‘n’ roll, stuff like Johnny Cash and Elvis and stuff, so my brother and I would get so excited by the beat and the music that we would go around the kitchen and take all the pots and pans and start throwing them around. Our mom got to a point where she couldn’t play music in the house anymore because we would tear apart the house just out of excitement — you know how we love music, we were just expressing it in very extreme ways, it took us several years to hone our excitement into the instruments,” Will said.
Both brothers sentimentally chuckled. Their progress since then is almost unbelievable and their self-discipline is unmatched.
As graduates of Julliard School, Peter and Will are music enthusiasts. They have a great appreciation of music, the bonds it can create and the historical aspect of it.
“I think one of the things that excites me most about music is connecting with people, some of the people we most look up to are in their 80s so you know we get to meet these 80-year-old men and women who lived in the 1950s and have this connection to a generation of music that is lost to us. We just love learning things from those who came before us and kind of internalizing them and passing them on to the new generation, so that’s what excites me most about music. It’s kind of like being a historian — you know? You get to go back and check out what came before and then you learn it and you’re like, ‘Oh maybe I’ll do something differently,’ and then you get to put your own spin on it, but were definitely bit of historians,” Peter said.
The brothers really enjoy passing on knowledge and energetically talking about music.
“We both do a lot of teaching. We learn a lot from that, being able to explain what you do is really important, but I guess our priority for the most part now is performing because just doing that in itself is a challenge,” Peter said.
This is the first time Peter and Will have performed at The University. They talked about the great jazz that comes from the Scranton area and said that they intend on coming back again.