Tod Dockstader’s electronic music composition, for most of his life, was always an avocation, something he did part-time, outside of his day job, earning him little income. Being an outsider without academic credentials, Tod was denied grants and access to the major electronic music centers. Yet fans of his music included Federico Fellini, and Pete Townshend.
Over nearly half a century, Ezra Laderman found a home in the academic world, then in government service at the NEA, then back to teach and administer at Yale. Through all those changes, he continued to compose on a regular schedule, turning out a stream of superbly crafted works, no matter his other duties’ demands. What a role-model!
William Thomas McKinley was a true American original and, to my knowledge, the first American classical composer who was also a major post-bop jazz pianist. He abolished this duality and saw creative music from a perspective of higher unity. Tom demonstrated how, musically and spiritually, one could embrace both—through notes, gestures, and at every imaginable level.
Ezra Sims came to a place so uniquely his own that it has no siblings, no cousins, no counterparts. His ear made the demands, and once he found the sound his ears sought, he drew the map for us to retrace his steps back to the music traditions he loved. He was not an iconoclast, but a logical evolutionist, who ironically arrived at his destination by a leap of faith.