“Music woke me up. It opened my life to art of all kinds, deeper thought, deeper listening, and deeper awareness… I would never have entertained this path had it not originally been paved by jazz.”
Former student – George Stevens Academy – Class of 1992
Instrument: Piano and Vibes
Describe how music has impacted your life.
Music woke me up. It opened my life to art of all kinds, deeper thought, deeper listening, and deeper awareness.
I now have my MFA in visual art, and am a prof of art at UMaine Orono. I am currently pursuing my PhD in the philosophy of Art. I would never have entertained this path had it not originally been paved by jazz. Even though my Fender Rhodes now sits collecting dust, I will forever be a musician deep in my soul.
Describe your connection to Mr. O
I began playing jazz at 12, and was in the first jazz band/combo at GSA with Mr O to participate in the State Jazz Fest (we won every year, 89-92) and Jazz All State. I was MVP at Jazz Fest for playing 4 mallet vibes in my solo in ‘Chameleon.’
I attended the Maine Jazz Camp from 89-91, including a special concert tour of Poland and Eastern Europe. I met Dizzy Gillespie, studied with Steve Grover, George Garzone, Brad Terri, Tim Sessions, and Isi Rudnick. I would have never had any of these pivotal experiences, nor met any of these incredible artists if it hadn’t been for Mr. O. I literally lived in the music room during high school.
Mr O played at my wedding, and I’ve known him like an uncle for most of my life, as my dad (Ron Stanko) was the Biology teacher at GSA.
Describe Mr. O in three words.
Just the MOST.
What is your most memorable story involving Mr. O?
Whilst on the piano, I remember having to duck regularly to avoid being hit in the head by Mr. O’s conductive gesticulations.
If you could ask Mr. O any question, what would it be?
What magic planet do you draw your energy from??