One of the most important roles of an artist is that of “teacher.” As a musician and composer, Hannibal has embraced that calling, making it a priority to give presentations at schools, summer camps and programs serving youth and student musicians.
As the finale to his outreach activities connected to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center performance of One Land, One River, One People, Hannibal spoke to students participating in this year’s New York State Summer School of the Arts, School of Orchestral Studies program. He began by offering these gifted young musicians a front row seat to an electrifying trumpet performance.A jazz trumpeter earlier in his career, Hannibal performed with legends such as Etta James and John Lennon during the 1970s and 80s and pioneered his own style that seemed to “embrace the entire jazz tradition from New Orleans to Coltrane.” (Jazz: The Essential Companion, 1995)
After his performance, Hannibal discussed his musical journey and his segue into composing. He explained the sources of inspiration for his work. Using his morning fishing trip as an example, he described the musicality that he heard in that experience: the wind, the boat rocking, the movement of the water and so on. He also discussed the fact that the subject of human struggle is often the inspiration for the content of his pieces, including One Land, One River, One People.
The students, many of whom will go on to professional careers in music, had many questions for the composer who relished the dialogue and the opportunity to share his experiences. One of the most important pieces of advice he shared was the following: in the face of criticism and doubt, “believe in your own voice” and keep reaching for your dreams.