Composer Aaron Perrine

Tear’s of St. Lawrence is a highlight of our fall 2017 program.  This composition by emerging composer Aaron Perrine, captures the optimistic joy and wonder to be had on a starry night.


Tear’s of St. Lawrence was commissioned by the McFarland High School 9th Grade Concert Band, McFarland, Wisconsin (Joseph Hartson, Director).  Composer Aaron Perrine’s thoughts on this remarkable piece:


Early last summer, my then five-year-old daughter became very interested in astronomy. She read every book in the library on the topic and became obsessed with the idea of seeing a falling star. After scanning the night sky for a few months with no success, she began to give up hope. Fortunately for all of us, the annual Perseids meteor shower—often referred to as the “Tears of St. Lawrence”—was quickly approaching. One clear mid-August night, I woke my daughter a bit after midnight. Without telling her what was to come, we quietly made our way outside. After anxiously waiting for what felt like forever, we saw our first falling star together! In addition to the obvious sense of excitement, however, I couldn’t help but feel a bit nostalgic, because I knew that in a few short weeks, my daughter would be going to school for the first time. As we watched the stars, we took turns telling stories as we wondered what the next year would bring. Two hours and countless meteors later, I finally convinced my daughter to return to bed. Tears of St. Lawrence was inspired by the variety of emotions experienced during that memorable night.



 Aaron Perrine, a two-time winner of the American Bandmasters Association Sousa/Ostwald Award for his compositions Only Light in 2015 and Pale Blue on Deep in 2013, has received degrees from the University of Iowa, the University of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota, Morris and is currently on the faculty at Cornell College. A finalist in the first Frank Ticheli Composition Contest, he was included in the series, Teaching Music through Performance in Band ans his music for band has also been featured at The Midwest Clinic, The Western International Band Clinic, and at numerous all-state, state conference and honor band concerts.

We contacted Mr. Perrine and asked him to share with us his thoughts on his journey in music, his musical influences and inspirations and words of advice that he has for young musicians.

Please tell us a bit about your journey in music and in lifeI grew up in a musical family. My grandfather and father were both high school band directors, so music was always around the house when I was a kid. While I always had an interest in writing music, I didn’t really begin to “compose” until the beginning of my sophomore year in college. I entered college as a trumpet major, but at some point during my freshman year, my embouchure changed and I was forced to switch to the trombone. Feeling inadequate for a time on both instruments, my jazz band director asked me to write a chart for our jazz ensemble. While this piece no long exists—aside from the one paper copy I recently removed from my undergraduate institution’s library!—I learned so much about composing from this experience, and was very fortunate to have a director that was so willing to encourage and foster my compositional interests.

I taught high school band for five years in the Twin Cities area and eventually found my way back to graduate school and earned a Ph.D. in composition from the University of Iowa. I currently live in northern Minnesota and spend much of my time composing, but also continue to teach part-time at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa.

What have been some of your musical influences? A few composers that come to mind (in no particular order) are Michael Colgrass, John Luther Adams, David Maslanka, Maria Schneider, György Ligeti, Igor Stravinsky and Johannes Brahms.

Please share a bit about your favorite musical memory? I don’t know that I could say that I have a favorite as there have been so many, but one that is quite memorable is the premiere of a work of mine entitled, “Only Light,” which was commissioned by Mark Heidel and the University of Iowa Symphony Band. It’s a very meaningful work to me, and I don’t think I took a breath during the eight or so minutes it took them to perform the piece!

Which composer/musician – past or present – would you most like to meet for a coffee and why?  John Lennon. The Beatles were my favorite band when I was young, and I think the way in which they impacted music and society was remarkable.

What inspires you?  Nature, poetry, art, live music

What do you do to relax?  Spend time with my family, golf, hike…

Do you have any advice for young musicians? Enjoy the process and joy of making music! It can be incredibly easy to get caught up in the technical aspects of performing, and while these are definitely important, don’t forget the reason you were drawn to music in the first place.

Please share any thoughts that you may have about the Northshore Concert Band.  The NCB is one of the finest groups of its kind. Thank you for the many years of excellence; you inspire me!


A special thank you to Mr. Perrine for speaking with us and giving permission to reproduce this material.  Please visit his website at to learn more about this notable American composer.


Star Wars: A New Hope

Sunday, November 5, 2017, 3:00 pm

Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern University, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston, Illinois

Learn more about the Northshore Concert Band at

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