When Joseph Boga was a young boy his mom, Cheryl, got him a violin.
“An absolute failure,” is how the musician described the experience.
Boga wanted to quit playing music forever, but Cheryl had one more deal. He had to at least try one different instrument.
The Chinchilla native wanted a trombone, but mom thought his arms were too short, so she got him a trumpet.
It become his musical redeemer.
Years later, Boga’s dreams have become a reality, he’s a fourth-year student at The Julliard School in New York City. And on Sunday he will return to Scranton to play with The New York Trumpet Ensemble for a concert honoring his late grandfather, Gene Yevich, at The University of Scranton.
Yevich served as the fire chief for the City of Scranton for decades, and according to Boga, was also a well-known local musician.
Yevich passed before he could see his grandson attend Julliard, but Boga said performing at The Sixth Annual Gene Yevich Memorial Concert is a distinct honor for him.
“I know he (Yevich) would be so proud of me and really happy with where I’m at,” Boga said.
Before all the musical awards and international shows in Italy, Boga said the attention he received from Abington Heights Middle School Band Director John Williams contributed to his perseverance. Williams took the youngster aside and told him he had potential and encouraged him to practice more.
“I felt really special so I took the time to practice and that’s how it all started,” Boga said.
Once he immersed himself in the trumpet, Boga aspired toward The Julliard School. He said every great musician he studied under told him Julliard was the place to learn from the best.
“It’s the pinnacle of music training,” he said.
The Abington Heights High School graduate then taught himself to play the piano, advancing his musical abilities to composition as well as performance.
In Boga’s eyes, composition and performance accompany one another.
“When I’m composing, I’m always at the piano,” he said. “It opens up a variety of sounds so I can create more music.”
Playing and composing music evolved into a lifestyle for Boga. He practices on average two to three hours a day, in addition to playing in rehearsals and concerts. According to Boga, the musician’s life is simple, “wake up, practice, play, and go back to bed.”
Boga calls his Julliard teacher, mentor, and fellow New York Trumpet Ensemble member Mark Gould his focal point of inspiration. Boga said Gould is a, “well-rounded and understanding musician and artist,” with an inspiring story.
While life in New York City offers infinite possibilities, Boga said he enjoys returning home every few months.
“It’s great to be home and see my family,” he said.
Cheryl is the Conductor and Director of Performance Music at The University of Scranton.
“(I’m) proud but also deeply respectful of Joseph’s unfailing perseverance in his continual efforts to develop his musicianship, his drive to excel, and his commitment to remain focused on serving the music in his performances, compositions, and educational outreach activities,” she said in an email.
After graduation, Boga plans to continue playing and writing music. He currently performs with The New York Trumpet Ensemble, the Kyle Athayde Dance Party, and many other ensembles.
The Sixth Annual Gene Yevich Memorial Concert will be held Sunday, Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Houlihan-McLean Center at The University of Scranton.