The rest of the story...

Here's where I tell you all the stuff that wouldn't fit in a 2-minute TV story.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Conflicted Musician

Jeff Midkiff is a really good mandolin player. Really good. Virtuoso for sure.

Jeff Midkiff is also a really good clarinetist. Same level. Classically trained. Master's degree.

When was the last time you saw a band, orchestra, ensemble, trio or duo featuring both the clarinet and the mandolin?

Catch my drift?

Musically they go together like a Porsche at a monster truck show.

Jeff's conflict became my conflict as a writer and reporter.

Jeff is local. Easy to write into the story. "Local boy does good."

But at what? Playing music?

That's an understatement.

At the clarinet? He's good enough to do a whole story just on that. But then the mandolin is his true love. Would it be fair to do a report that included only one? Would his followers think I had missed half the story?

Jeff with mandolin he bought as a teen.
We writers like a simple story line. "Local boy gets mandolin from neighbor at age 7 and goes on to become world's best."

But no. Jeff has this musical schizophrenia going on. Or he did -- until the last few years when he began to combine the freedom of the mandolin with the strict discipline and daily effort that marks a true clarinetist.

Thankfully, he recently wrote a mandolin concerto for the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra. That angle gives me a way to get into all this great background -- and to structure the story so you can hear him play both of his instruments.

The fact is that, conflicted or not, Jeff is a local treasure. He makes it look so simple, while representing at the same time how hard it is to be a truly world class musician. And he does it right here in Roanoke -- where by the way he teaches music in the Roanoke School system.

I hope you enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed meeting Jeff and listening to him play his music. It really is a treat.

By the way, he also plays the fiddle.  But I just couldn't go there. 

To hear more of his work, learn about his CD or more background on his career go to his website:

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