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Alex DePue Trio – Victory

Pavel Cortez, piano               Alex DePue, violin              Sam Johnson, double-bass

“By the time I had officially enrolled at Bowling Green State University in 1990, there had already been accumulated in my folder an entire year’s worth of college credit,… already, uhhhh, to my credit! Lol…suffered a LOT in English class… lol. Not really though. Lol
“One year”, if you’re asking me, is the equivalent of two semesters’ study here in the US of A… one full year of formal college, and BGSU has the word “State” in it, so… and if you’re an American, that word is either GREAT news, as it is used here in THIS sentence… or, quite often, the word “State” can evoke a rather visceral emoting of FEAR… the latter of the sort no one would ever wish to see, especially on an envelope arrived in your home mailbox, followed closely by the three letters, “IRS”, etc. lol
But… and from the end of August, and on through Christmas (we do get a long break there), and leading us finally to mid-May of each following year… but just ya know COLLEGE, for ME? Really?
College began for me, officially (yet unofficially shhhh) in 1987, a good three years before I was of the age to actually graduate from high school and “hang” with other students my own age.
It actually helped with my plans and ambitions re: violin at such a young age, the fact that our High School in Bowling Green did not yet offer any string program at all. Quite literally, it was not until the very NEXT year and well AFTER I had graduated, that our little, rural, mid-west-of-Ohio-High-School finally adapted an orchestral program, the likes of which we could all be proud as Bowling Greenians.
But I can do ya even better than that, because REALLY really? My college training began with my own personal Professor of Music Composition and Theory, from the first day of LIFE. I, and my brothers… we learned QUICKLY. Dad wouldn’t have it dialed in at anything like one would deem a “normal” pace, until w….well, he still hasn’t. Actually. There’s nothing dialed back about Dr. Wallace Earl DePue, Sr. Please do fact-check me there, using any former student of Dad’s as your reference.
So… if you’re still putting this together with me… we have instant college-level training from day one (birth), combined with this luxury, I guess most would call it… to play in the College orchestra waaaaay long before it was, perhaps even LEGALLY?! Allowed!
The various Conductors throughout those years… going all the way back to Emil Raab, mind you… were all more than happy to have me sitting in the violin section. I was there for only just a taste of Dr. Raab, then came Grezgorz Nowak, then Robert Spano, and then, finally… and still holding the position to this very day… Dr. Emily Freeman-Brown, under whose baton I worked (it toooootally felt like “work” by then lol) until I just couldn’t take it anymore, all of this “studying” at BGSU. Don’t get me wrong, she was EXCELLENT on the podium, and my private instructors, since age FIVE at BGSU were of the sort, I can’t say much without getting choked-up and teary-eyed… butcha know… to have ta sit there and continue learning “STUFF YA ALREADY KNOW!”, with Alex DePue? It just didn’t quite quell that fire… the THIRST I was developing, ALSO very quickly, for this OTHER life I was living up in Detroit, playing these HUGE Country bars where the girls were literally dirty-dancin’ to COUNTRY music (Garth Brooks had just hit the scene), and SUDDENLY?? Country music was cool! EVEN IN DETROIT??
I spent a full semester at BGSU, with none else than DAD, of course, for my 8am class. And during that same semester?, Holding down a six-night gig, a LIVE COUNTRY-ROCK gig at the Hoover Roadhouse in Detroit,… hittin’ the last chord each night, and then IMMEDIATELY, head right on back to BGSU (about a two-hour drive back then) to be home, in time, and in PLACE for that 8am class with DAD at the helm, deciding marks that would live in my schoolastic record FOREVER. Sometimes, there was even enough time for the needed shower and perhaps a moment of rest before SCARED STRAIGHT BEGAN. AGAIN… and EVERY day at 8am with Dr. Jekyll I MEAN DR. DEPUE, and for the entire semester.
So… NOW you know what happened… and I sure wish I could see your face right now… I’m totally sorry, but I’ve GOT to do this right now. I hope you’ll forgive me for it… but SCREW YOU, everyone who said I was making the wrong decision and headed down the “wrong” road?! I’m SOOOOOO glad I did it, and made those decisions when it was indeed NECESSARY to make ‘em, and again, for those who have mentioned their “disappointment” while reveling in their own high-browed CRAP they were writing, to then suggest it was ME who’s outta line, having made the very-conscious DECISION… to have chosen… CHOSEN, mind you, to NOT just sit there and take it for another semester?? Scrrrererrreww…. YOU! See, it really WAS the timing of all elements here in God’s Universe, that really did carve out for me? …the EXACT path I was to go.
Just a side-word here to the ones I’m screwing at the moment… and really? Here’s some SOLID advice for ANYONE interested in learning how to achieve some degree of COUTH. KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT, BEFORE YA DOLE OUT YOUR OH, SO HIGHLY REGARDED “ADVICE”, WILL YA?! FIRST research, if ya really care so much? THEN talk. Always in that order, please. THAT way, when the Roseannes of our era… or the John Williams, Michael Jacksons, hell… ELVIS! GARTH! COLTRANE! The list is endless… and we all know it. At least, I sure HOPE that by now ya get it? Because that way, you won’t be that one absolute JACKASS whose advice was so clinically IMperfect way back when, while ya have no choice but to watch that same “defiant” “student” march on up to the stage and collect their GRAMMYS. Don’t be that guy?? (And just in case you’re reading this, and you ARE? Currently? “THAT” guy?
Because YOU… yes, YOU, just might learn from this here… this writing.
(OKAY! Haha… I’m BETTER, now! MAN, I’ve been wantin’ to get that out for a loooong LONG time!)
Yes, I had already been in the BGSU Symphony Orchestra… a local “ringer”, if you will… since, really, my Sophomore year at the HIGH School, earning, along with those unbeLIEVEable experiences… I mean, Robert Spano?? He’s one of the most sought-after maestros of our day, now Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Maestro Grzegorz Nowak came through there for an AMAZING few years on the BGSU podium? Poland’s leading representative demonstrating immediately “How to Conduct an Orchestra” …he was absolutely stunning to watch during rehearsals at BGSU, especially at such a young(er)-than-anyone-else-AGE! He, in fact, is now with the ROYAL Philharmonic in LONDON. lol
(I’m sorry, but at this point, I gotta point it out at the same time as this rant… the degree of LUCK involved here? It’s really…)
Well, it’s as if BGSU not only served as “a” stepping stone for these now GLORIOUSLY respected figures… now ICONS, even, in the Classical world… but even more so… during MY days there? …dating all the way back to 1976, at that State (there’s that word again!) University’s FIRST music department, located within a smoky (they were allowed to smoke INDOORS back then totally serious.) since-destroyed, “Johnson Hall”… it quickly became “THE” stepping-stone for our mid-west region of the USA, as the faculty & staff there… just LOADED with super-stars.
It was there I was just barely alive to witness and remember the very first production of my Father’s first opera, “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde”, a now-famous work within our world of… ya know, that direction the revered “Classical” side of this whole musical experience has now been realized. The name for that style, btw, that “genre”… our ERA, our current “period” with regard to serious Classical study, by the way? Within the highbrow society of “music average folks don’t understand”, or “dinner music for people who are not very hungry”, it is called either “Contemporary” or even, for the REALLY hard-core… it’s called, “Avant-Garde”. Add the word “Music”, I guess… I mean if ya must. Lol . But I’m just guessin’ that even those who compose within this category of “music”… are certainly not first in line to catch the next release of the brand new “Single Drop”, by J. Hoity-Toity? HIGHLY DOUBT THAT.
Yes, it was there, at Bowling Green State University, where I witnessed a recital at Bryan Recital Hall, where now-famous saxophonist John Sampen came out to a roaring ovation, and as the house lights came down, we realized there was a large fishbowl on the stage, with one very bright pin-spot aimed right at it, the water glistening inside, and one very-gold, living and breathing FISH within that fishbowl, just swimmin’ around, while Dr. Sampen began to improvise the swimmy motions the fish would make, and literally compose a new work, on the spot, spewing forth the most beautifully choreographed lines anyone could possibly imagine, to perfectly accompany each exacted move that fish would make! So… I mean, it wasn’t ALL bad? That was one performance, obviously, I’ll remember for the rest of LIFE!
But BGSU was INFAMOUS for their proudly-boasted “New Music Festival” each year I did play in that orchestra. What this means, and for EVERY… YEAR… (mind you), our first semester… at least our first Quarter… was entirely DEVOTED to these musics each Fall Season when school would begin again. And while I’m proud of every moment spent inside that GOVERNMENT FACILITY… lol, a State University… it was really back in 1977 – 1987… THAT was the decade, which… for me? The “cast” at BGSU’s Moore Musical Arts Center (built in ’76, opened in ’77) was just STUFFED with all kinds of musical heroes… role models, even. My Dad was certainly one of ’em, but the name I cherish most, even now, at age 48? Dr. Bernard Linden.
Bernie Linden was our Violist at MMAC, and was my very first teacher (he agreed to teach a practicing 5-year-old violin lessons, even though he was a professional violist, and even knowing that much about Dr. Linden… well, you’ll understand with the next chapter, perhaps).
ALL of this is nothing more than a book I’m assembling right in front of your very eyes… I’ll title it someday, but need for YOU to have it (especially students of the violin), just in case life does not go the way we’d all hope it might at this point. Because, and at the very least, you’ll have, so far, the deepest ROOTS as to what has been my own personal story, and I feel like the ending?
To keep things going in the direction of ending this chapter, I’ll sum it up for ya… frankly, I feel LED, truth be told. I’m only still following that voice I’ve heard so prominently in my brain throughout this whole experience thus far, this thing called life… and do YOU believe I’ve got more story to tell? C’mon, you know that answer already! I’ll stay on it, but only for as long as you’ll read ‘em. Deal?
Deal.” -Alex DePue

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