Growing up in Boston in the 1980's I was exposed to countless professional brass quintets. Empire Brass, Atlantic Brass, Paramount Brass. The city of Boston had the most thriving brass quintet scene in the country and for this young tuba player that was invaluable. To get to hear my instrument featured in a chamber setting showed me what was possible and inspired me to get to work.
I will never forget the first time I heard Sam Pilafian play. (When I was 11 and hearing him play for the first time I certainly never dreamed he would take over a gig for me as he did with Boston Brass earlier this year!) His playing was virtuosic, he was completely approachable, and he made me think that I could someday do what he did. That's a great thing to be exposed to at such an early age!
The Empire Brass appearance on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was a collision of two worlds for someone my age. Seeing Sam along with Rolf Smedvig, Charlie Lewis, Dave Ohanian and Scott Hartman on the same television screen as Mister Rogers is still kind of crazy to me.
But the best part of this is Sam giving Mister Rogers a tuba lesson. The other best part is when Mister Rogers asks if it helps to be friends and there is an uncomfortable laughter...