What was your gateway into music?

I picked up a flute that was sitting around my house when I was in early high school. Basically, I enjoyed the marching band and I taught myself to read and play from the band method book. While I was in high school, I made the decision to major in music.

And what kind of classical music were you listening to then?

Zero. I grew up on pop music. The only things that I knew in classical music were the pieces I was learning on the flute.

How did composition become an all-consuming passion?

As a child, I’d always been interested in things that were creative. It’d always been visual art, but there was something about the power of music I thought was entrancing. Looking back on it, I’m kind of amazed that I’ve had the career I’ve had considering how little I knew. The thing is, I have four degrees, so I was always hungry. Always hungry to learn and curious and willing to try playing different kinds of music.

Which composers inspired you at first?

Because I grew up around...