10 QUESTIONS WITH…Jason Beghtol
A man, fitted with bionic legs to become a super-soldier, is killed in battle. The Powers-That-Be decide that to cryogenically freeze the soldier in order to bring him back, make him better, create the ultimate war machine. However, this process accidentally turns the human portions of the soldier to ice and gives him the ability to control and manipulate that part of himself. He escapes his captors’ grip and goes on the run, determined to do what’s right and desperate to adjust to his new life.
This is not the plotline to next summer’s high-budget blockbuster film, nor the newest graphic novel hitting the stands. This is the creation of Jason Beghtol–trombonist, teacher, and superhero lover. Jason, however, went a different route with his creation than most. Instead of telling this story in a comic book (or any book for that matter), Jason took his own superhero, his own villain, and his own comic book and wrote it as a Trombone/Percussion ensemble piece.
Fire & Ice: An Original Superhero Adventure for Trombone Trio and Percussion is a comic book in symphonic form. The five written pieces of this composition are stories that depict the ongoing trials, tribulations, and triumphs of a superhero on the run from the people who created him in musical form. Chris Buckholz of the University of Northern Iowa describes the work as “…an imaginative and cinematic work…Classically influenced rock describes its overall style.” And the story of it’s creation, backstory, and performance history is soon to be published in the International Trombone Association Journal.
So, anytime I see something as cool as this, I’m gonna have to talk about it. So, without further ado, here is 10 Questions with the composer of Fire & Ice Jason Beghtol!
1. What inspired you to start playing trombone?
I wasn’t really inspired to play the trombone. I’m not sure anyone really goes into band saying, “Man, I would really love to play the most awkward and cumbersome instrument in the band. You know…that instrument that has to sit across you and your seat partner’s lap on the bus.” As most every child that enters beginner’s band, I wanted to play drums. I attended Goodwin Elementary in North Aurora, Illinois where band began in fifth grade. The band director intelligently brought myself and my best friend into her office and persuaded us to play the trombone because there weren’t enough trombone players in the bad. At the time i had no idea what the instrument was. All i knew was that I would be able to sit by Steve in band class. And so began my trombone career.
2. What inspired you to write this work?
Fire & Ice was an idea I started formulating around 2004. my desire was to write a piece of music for trombone, based around a superhero story. I have always been drawn to the idea of superheroes and the ideal of doing what is right in the face of adversity. My concept for this project was to be an ongoing series of compositions set up like a comic book. This is why each individual piece is set up as a chapter not a movement. My intent was for each chapter to stand alone as well as be part of the larger whole.
3. What kind of literature do you read?
I don’t actually do a lot of reading–I’m currently working on my Ph.D. in Music Education. The majority of the reading I do is reasearch in the area of music education. I do read a graphic novel from time to time.
4. Who are your heroes?
As a child, I had athletic heroes (Nolan Ryan, Watler Payton, Bo Jackson) and comic heroes (Superman), but as I have grown older and have children now, my father Richard Beghtol continues to be my hero. Even though he passed away in April of 97 while I was a freshman in college, he still continues to inspire me and I realize how fortunate I was to have him in my life even if it was for a limited time. my other hero is my mom Vicki Beghtol who was able to overcome the loss of her husband and keep us “afloat” while I was in college. She herself went back to college and earned a degree to find a better job to support us. As I get older, I realize how fortunate I was to have the parents I have and hope to raise my boys as well as they raised me.
5. What’s the greatest honor you’ve received?
I haven’t received any great honor such as “Outstanding Teacher of the Year” or “Mr. Universe”. No Pulitzers, no Grammies. The greatest honor I have received is being the husband and father of my family. I am truly fortunate to have them in my life and am grateful that they continue to want me in theirs.
6. Has teaching impacted your compositions?
It hasn’t really. when I compose, I write what I want to. Other than instrumental restrictions I don’t tend to put age or ability into consideration. My music tends to be playable by college level students, but that is the result of the composition, not my original intent.
7. Shuffle your iPod, iPhone, whatever. What’s the first song that plays?
So, I pick up my phone and hit shuffle. It is to no surprise that a Dave Matthews Band song pops up first. The Last Stop from the album Before These Crowded Streets. it is no surprise because I am a massive DMB fan and the majority of the music on my phone is DMB. Just out of curiosity’s sake I clicked to the next random song and Alive from Pearl Jam popped up. I have multiple random songs from multiple random artists on my phone, but those artists don’t keep my attention through their playlist like DMB does.
8. You’ve mentioned your kids–what kind of music do they listen to?
I try to influence some DMB on them. I also throw in some Backatown by Trombone Shorty (author’s note–awesome) for a time. BUT, if you ask them, you’ll receive answers such as: Gotye, Psy, Village People, and other pop tunes on the radio.
9. What do you hope your legacy is?
For my boys, I hope to be a good father. As a teacher, I hope to inspire others to continue to spread the love for music that i have. in the trombone world, i do hope Fire & Ice leaves its mark somewhere in the continuum.
10. Outside of music, what other passions do you have?
I don’t have many other passions outside of music. I enjoy playing golf and watching movies on the big screen. I am an amateur golfer and don’t play very often but I enjoy it. As for movies, I enjoy the whole atmosphere of going to the theater and watching a good movie.