My Hero List

I've alluded to my "hero list" in blog posts past, but I decided I would actually write it down and share it with you. 

I have quite a few heroes, and I chose them all because they have some plane of influence that they have used to positively influence others. Some of them are influential to the whole world, some just to me; some of them I've met, some of them I never will. But they all inspire me. 

  • Ludwig van Beethoven- This dude made some of the world's most beautiful music even when he couldn't hear it. He acted like a jerk at parties because he was so embarrassed of his deafness. He had struggles, but succeeded nonetheless.
  • Stephen Sondheim- This guy is my literal inspiration every single day. In addition to being absolutely brilliant, he has taught me so much about art, the need for it, and the things it can do.
  • Ernest Shackleton- I think an honor band clinician told me about Ernest once, and I became obsessed. He was an Arctic explorer who crash landed on a freezing island in the early 20th century. He knew that if he could get his men to the other side of the mountainous island, they would find a whaling station and could be rescued, but it was impossible to get 20 men across the island without at least one fatality. However, because of Ernest's leadership, only one toe was lost.
  • Alex Lacamoire- There's something amazing in my mind about being an intensely creative individual with the sole purpose of helping to realize someone else's vision. Most people don't know what he does as music supervisor, music director, or orchestrator, but he is so crucial and the team-oriented attitude that is necessary in those circumstances is very inspirational to me.
  • Nico Muhly- There's a short story that goes with this one... I had the amazing honor of getting to meet Nico in a master class last year in which all the composition students had 15-20 minutes to show him a piece and work through it in a mini-lesson style. I handed him my score, and his first question was, "Why is my name at the top of this?" I said, "I'm sorry?" and he pointed to where I had written his name at the top of my music. NEXT TO A HEART I DREW. "Oh," I replied, "this was my college audition score, and I jotted your name down because you were a huge influence on this piece, and I was worried I would blank if the professors asked me about it." HOW EMBARRASSING. Anyway, I am super inspired by Nico Muhly because he makes wonderful art, and he has ended a sort of stigma that existed in my mind around intellectual music. He has shown me that you can think about music in profound ways and still create enjoyable sounds.
  • Benj Pasek and Justin Paul- Go listen to Dear Evan Hansen right this second and then come back to my post. Benj and Justin have shown me that 1. You don't have to be on the same path as your peers, and that's okay, 2. Art can embrace the complexities of life in ways that sometimes life itself can't, and 3. If you take enough initiative, you can perform your first song cycle while still in college. They've also shown me that my heroes have heroes themselves, and the more we look up to people, the more we can learn from them.
  • Rowan Blanchard- For those of you who don't know her, she's a 15-year-old actress and political activist. I'm amazed by how thoughtful she is and how she uses her influence over such a young audience to encourage thoughtfulness in others. 
  • Rob Mathes- Mr. Rob is one of the only people I can think of who truly embodies my dream of being a musician and doing whatever that leads me to do. He has shown me that a diverse set of skills is absolutely necessary and absolutely valuable and you can be a musician in many different worlds. 
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda- He uses his kind of art to say what he feels needs to be said, and that's so important. I love how unapologetic he is about his messages, his goals, and his unlikely combination of hip hop and theatre. He's shown me the importance of collaboration and thinking outside of the box... all in the name of telling stories that need to be told. 
  • My Doghouse Family- My Interlochen theatre family means a ton to me, and they inspire me every day. On the night of the launch, I had this realization that changing the world is a thing that we can all try to do. And we have more of a chance of success if we all work together. 
  • Leonard Bernstein- I wrote a whole paper on this guy last year because I was so fascinated with his teaching. But what I found was that he was such a good teacher because he was always learning. Through studying his music, his thoughts, and his educational tactics, I have come to hope that I never stop learning.
  • My Parents- My parents are on my hero list because they have been nothing but encouraging to me on my life journey. Never in my life have I ever felt like they don't believe in me, and that's so important. It's possible that we've disagreed, and we've definitely had moments of tension surrounding a decision I want to make, but I've never felt like they see me as incapable, and unfortunately I know the same cannot be said about all parents. 
  • YOU- that's right! You! If you're reading this, you're totally on my hero list. Chances are that either a.) I know you, in which case you definitely inspire me and have positively influenced my life, or b.) you're a fellow musician with the opportunity to inspire and positively influence others through your art. 

Happy Wednesday, and have a wonderful day :)

Reagan Casteel