Interview of the Month: Paul Basler
Whether it’s as a professor (University of Florida Teacher of the Year, Fulbright Senior Lecturer in Nairobi, Kenya,) horn player (orchestral and solo engagements on several continents,) or composer (works performed regularly around the globe,) Paul combines his formidable talents with a gentle, friendly attitude and emphasis on the search for what truly matters in music and life in general: relationship, connection, beauty. Read on for a peek into the mind of this gifted artist! -KMT
Kristina Mascher-Turner: Are you a morning or an evening composer? Where's your favorite place to write music?
Paul Basler: I am a morning composer. My favorite place to compose is in my music studio at home on my Yamaha studio upright piano and also between horn lessons at the University of Florida in my studio.
KMT: Would you say that you belong to a certain "school" of composition?
KMT: I've enjoyed performing your "Ken Bits" around the world over the past several years. Your beautiful "Missa Kenya" also draws its inspiration from Kenyan folk music. Can you tell us about your time as a Fulbright lecturer in Kenya and how it affected you personally and musically?
PB: My year in Kenya (1993-94) and subsequent visits were so special. My music became cleaner and more accessible. I did not need to be so “intellectual.” And I came to realize that relationships are more important than success.
KMT: Which do you enjoy more, playing the horn or writing music?
PB: This is a difficult question to answer! I enjoy both equally!
KMT: Which piece by another composer do you wish you had written?
PB: James Naigus’ Soundings for horn and synthesizer – this is one of the most wonderful new pieces.
KMT: What advice would you give young composers writing for the horn today?
PB: Believe in rests! Really. So many pieces for horn do not have enough rests.
KMT: Your latest premiere at the Northwest Horn Symposium, "Passages" for flute, horn, and piano, came about with the assistance of the Meir Rimon Commissioning Assistance Fund. Do you write all your works nowadays on commission? If not, is there a difference in your process and feeling towards a work when you aren't on a commission? How do you get yourself in the right frame of mind?
PB: I usually write works on commission. But every now and then, I compose a piece for a dear friend. There is a difference in the process – with friends the piece usually takes on a more personal feel.
KMT: Which other composers and creative artists provide you with inspiration?
PB: Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Benjamin Britten
KMT: Many of your works have religious themes. What role does spirituality play in your creative process?
PB: I am a deeply spiritual person. Truly believe that creating music makes for a better world.
KMT: Do you write by hand or straight into the computer?
PB: I always compose with sketches on paper first. Then start to place it all into Finale (computer).
KMT: What is something most people don't know about you that you'd like them to know?
PB: I enjoy gardening, hiking, reading and traveling. Although most people think that I am a very outgoing person, truth be told I am an introvert.
KMT: What projects are you working on right now?
PB: I have two commissions that I am currently working on – a new piece for the University of Georgia Symphonic Band and a choral work for the Valdosta State University Concert Choir.
You can sample the musical world of Paul Basler through this performance of his Psalm 23: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HO7pdoZa4LI