Passive Echoes

Together at NCSA in September 1970


Larr and Marcia 1970

Life changing is how “in-love” feels in adolescence because it is a far more moving and compelling relationship than the young people have known before. The experience is all consuming — so each is always on the other’s mind. This is the person they want to spend all their time with — so time with good friends is often set aside. It is a merged relationship — so each one feels part of the other, not quite whole when they are not together.

They are highly sensitized to each other — so both are alert to subtle interpersonal signals and are easily hurt by small slights from each other. The intimacy is deeper than with anyone else. To feel so deeply known and deeply knowing makes other relationships seem shallower by comparison.” - Carl E Pickhardt Ph.D

Memorable Music:Walk On By

May - August, 1970



"It was a challenge at UNCSA to acclimate to a new high school that was completely different from my previous one. Not only because of the difficulty of the arts and academic curriculum and diversity, but because now I went from being a big fish in a little pond to being merely a minnow in a vast ocean of talent.

Additionally, the emotional and mental distractions of my relationship with Marcia was by far the most complex issue and transition that I had to cope with. Although we were on the campus of UNCSA together and often stood within inches of each other when we occasionally talked, there was a boundless blue of emotional distance between us, one which I created. Similar to what is depicted above in the photo of the two of us from the previous year, I intentionally kept her far away from my vulnerable heart.

Nevertheless, I was excited about studying music composition with the dean of the school of music, Dr. Louis Mennini. I had interviewed on several occasions with him in late spring of 1970 before he accepted me as his only high school composition student that year.  

This came about after integration of all schools in Winston-Salem became mandatory in the spring of 1970, commencing with the faculty during late spring. Hence, our new band director was from Parkland High and was coincidentally the tuba teacher at NCSA as I discovered later. I was the student director and band president so it was my final assignment from Mr. Hunt to assist in familiarizing my new band director to his office, band room, and overall procedures that we were accustomed to,

Mr. Hunt had also spoken to Mr. Clark regarding my composing and the fact that I had a personal key to the bandroom to permit me to compose at night and during the weekends and summer months when I needed solitude. Mr. Clark insisted that I continue to keep my routine and personal key. After a week or so of becoming better acquainted he asked if he could look over some of my scores one Friday afternoon and stated that he would return them the following week, which I agreed to.

The following Monday he informed me that he had taken the liberty to show three or four of my scores to a professional composer and the head of the school of music at NCSA, Dr. Mennini, the previous Friday. That same morning, Dr. Mennini initiated contact within a matter of hours after Mr. Clark informed me. He called my high school to schedule an appointment with me that very evening in his office.

I thought it was going to be just a wonderful discussion session and was excited just to meet a professional classical composer for the first time in my life. I discovered later that he was appointed as interim president of NCSA after the sudden death of Dr. Giannini before Dr. Ward accepted the appointment permanently, and was the older brother of famed composer and Julliard's President, Peter Mennin.

I left school that evening and ran all the way to NCSA in order to be on time for my appointment. Marcia observed me walking around campus that evening and inquired why I was there, perhaps thinking that I was making an unscheduled visit to see her. I was in a hurry, so I simply informed her that Dr. Mennini called my school and wanted to meet with me to discuss several of my music compositions. I had done some research on Dr. Mennini and was somewhat intimidated and nervous about our meeting after reading his biography in our school library. I am sure my restlessness and apprehensions were reflected on my countenance.

Marcia was somewhat surprised and curious because she knew that NCSA only taught and trained classical musicians and composers (Although I believe they had a jazz band at that time and know they taught principally ballet but also modern dance because she took lessons when I dated her in '68). Marcia was not aware that I was a 'serious' composer of classical music, just a trombonist, jazz composer, songwriter, and poet. However, because of the time constraints and the initial phase of my desire to distance myself from her, we did not engage in a lengthy conversation. After my brief explanation we merely exchanged greetings and went our separate ways.

I avoided and refrained from contacting her during subsequent visits with Dr. Mennini. I don't understand why, perhaps it was because after two dates and several brief kisses just weeks before this particular encounter, I sensed that I was being drawn back in and that neither of us were ready for true commitment.

Perhaps it was because of our youth, I had just observed my 17th birthday and Marcia was 5 months from her 17th year of existence, we were still emotionally and hormonally unstable. Of one thing I was confident, that I was still very much in love with her but extremely wary of becoming optimistic about a future together.

After our initial meeting, Dr. Mennini gave me several composing assignments and asked to meet with me again in a few days. One evening following a meeting he asked if I wanted to attend NCSA for my senior year in high school as one of his composition students. I replied, 'Most definitely!'

He also had read and inquired about my poetry which was seen by him when I brought over my complete portfolio. He encouraged and suggested that I minor in creative writing. I declined the latter because I wanted to focus strictly on composition. I regret not pursuing it now because it would have been excellent training as I pursued composing opera and desired to write my own librettos similar to my second year composition teacher, Dr. Ward.

We shook hands and he instructed me to increase my emphasis on composing during the summer months and told me that if there were no problems with my high school transcript and grades he would see me in late August for the fall session.

Although my love for composing was the primary reason it was not the sole reason that I accepted the invitation and privilege to attend NCSA. I must confess that I harbored an ulterior motive. I desired to be near Marcia in hopes of rekindling our romantic relationship. It was my belief that if I became part of her world, our natural attraction and feelings for each other would emerge in full bloom.

Despite weekly letter writing and several telephone exchanges during June, I did not inform Marcia of the nature or extent of my meetings with Dr. Mennini at NCSA. Nor did I tell her that he had invited me to be one of his composition students until early July after I received my acceptance letter.

She didn't seem surprised about my acceptance nor was she congratulatory or enthusiastic about the prospect of our being on campus together in September, 1970. There was just silence on the telephone and then I changed the subject, puzzled at her "no comment" response. We continued writing until early August and did not discuss the subject again nor did I inquire about her obvious apprehensions.

In late August I began attending classes with the other high school students and reported to Dr. Mennini's office the first day to arrange a time for our weekly composition classes. Dr. Mennini was not only my composition teacher but became a mentor and a father figure whom I consulted on many subjects, including girls. One afternoon he asked me to come to his office in October just to see how I was adapting and for a friendly chat after our composition class was over. He had heard reports that I was isolating myself and was very unfriendly.

When I arrived he asked about my impression of the girls and my personal preferences. I told him that I had my eye on one in particular, Marcia, but I told him that we had previously dated and our relationship was in limbo. He laughed and told me that I was too young to limit myself to one. When I mentioned to him that I was also dating a woman off campus, he told me that I should enjoy the best of both worlds and also date an on campus girl. I mentioned to him that there were several dancers that were very appealing and he stated, 'Go for it!'"

Additionally, he assigned me to visit each art school to become familiar with both teachers and students who someday I may have to collaborate with as a composer. I began with the UNCSA School of Dance which resulted in Marcia observing me on several occasions. She confronted me inquiring about why I was there. Of course, she dismissed my explanation that I was assigned to be there and made statements that I was just watching the pretty ballerinas stretching and dancing in their leotards, which had sore degree of truth as well.

Nevertheless, I was very interested in the beauty of dance, choreography combined with music and was desdirous of composing a ballet following the tradition of my favorite composers, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky.




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