A tree on High Street

Harkness Tower with the word "Sample" printed over itAfter graduation, half-way through first semester of teaching undergraduate music theory on a Carnegie Teaching Fellowship while taking composition lessons in the School of Music with master teacher Bulent Arel. Still not sure where my life is meant to go. Walking back to Stiles from class in Harkness. Look up at a tree on High Street, a little to the HGS side of the pathway to Stiles. Get sudden realization: you’re a composer. You’ve been one for a few months now. This is what you’re meant to do. Thank you, tree.

– Conrad Cummings


A Vanderbilt entryway

worn stone stepFirst arrival, never been east of Denver, off the red-eye from San Francisco, the first Brooklyn accent I’d ever heard, Kennedy, and the weirdly pale color of green of the foliage from the window of the Connecticut Limousine. Find the Old Campus, strangely fortress-like. Find Vanderbilt. Enter entryway for #12. Put foot on first step, pull foot back, startled. The step is worn into a gently curving basin from thousands of students’ steps. Oh my God, this place is old. There’s nothing this old in California.

Conrad Cummings