I had heard David play with his VCC Jazz Ensemble at the Hot Jazz Club in 1983, but we did not meet until my first “real” rehearsal with the Pacific Symphonic Wind Ensemble in 1986. (I had “sat in” a year previously, just once.) There I experienced Dave’s phenomenal conducting for the first time as we read John Williams’ “The Cowboys.” We didn’t play through the piece, Dave just took us to all the bits that each section would need to focus on to execute properly and every important cadence for intonation. To this day I do not believe that any music director works harder on score study and stick technique than David Branter, and does it show!
Every rehearsal with Dr David Branter is a master class in wind playing.
As Bass Clarinetist with the band, I got to sit right in front of David and Julia in the saxophone section for years, amongst the greatest educations in ensemble woodwind playing possible in this world, in my estimation. I took lessons with both of them and yearly master classes with their teacher, Dr Eugene Rousseau.
But I’m even more blessed to become family with them and their amazing son Jesse, a fine clarinetist, as well as a bon vivant and film buff like his Dad. It is not an overstatement that our weekly clarinet chamber trios during the two years of the 2020-2021+ pandemic saved our (still-questionable) sanity. Dave and I, already dear friends, became brothers during that time. He was already a role model and mentor and it is a total gas that he and Julia and others that were introduced to me by David, Julia, and Morrie and Mary Backun have whipped me into the musical shape where I can strive to be a colleague.
“On arrive jamais.” (From Marcel Mule, “le maître,” the father of the classical saxophone)
It feels to me as though Dave and I were “separated at birth” in our outlook, interests, loves, passions and proclivities. For others at dinner parties with us it is like being assaulted by a conversational combination of ping-pong and dodgeball.
I love you, Maestra, Maestro, and Nerd-Bro.