Carter Simmons discovered his love of music at an early age and is now the Artistic Director of the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO) and Music Director of Milwaukee’s century-old Festival City Symphony.
Carter lives in Greendale with his wife Pamela, son Hudson, and daughter Lauren. A family of musicians, Pamela, a violinist, teaches lessons at home and performs throughout the area, including the Skylight Theater, as Associate Concertmaster of the Festival City Symphony, and performs regularly with the Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra. Hudson plays trumpet in MYSO and the Greendale High School Bands, and Lauren, a cellist, studies science and English at Duke University.
Thank you, Carter and family, for your love of Greendale and for sharing your musical talents with us!
Q: What inspired you or led you to your current career? What do you love most about what you do?
A: I’ve always been involved in music since I was a young person. Just like a lot of kids in Greendale, I was given the opportunity to start on an instrument (Viola, Piano and French Horn) when I was in grade school and participated in a wonderful program like we have here. I continued my studies all the way through high school and college before becoming a conductor and teacher. I had the opportunity to be around the United States Marine Band when I was in grade school and took in other experiences early on that helped me appreciate what goes into helping young people get involved and succeed in music. Giving young people experience in music is the best.
Q: How long have you lived in Greendale?
A: I’ve lived in Greendale for 15 years and Pamela grew up here. My family benefits from her experience here in the village, the community, and the wonderful place that Greendale is to raise kids. That is why we decided to move here. Lauren and Hudson also went to Canterbury where some of Pamela’s teachers still taught when we moved into the village.
Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in Greendale?
A: Of course my wife, Pamela! Another is GHS Band Director, Tom Reifenberg, who has provided thousands of young people and their families incredible experiences through music. He builds community around a positive activity that includes students and families from different backgrounds–an important achievement that benefits all of us.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? And why?
A: I’ve had the opportunity to travel as a musician in my work with the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra. The last concert tour with the orchestra was to Ireland, and before that, Austria, Argentina, Uruguay, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and China. No matter where, I always love the feeling of coming home to the U.S. and Greendale. The best!
Q: What is your favorite movie or the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?
A: The first movie I remember seeing in a theater was Fantasia; my mom took me to the famous Disney film full of classical music performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra under the conductor, Leopold Stokowski…and Mickey Mouse! The scene with Night on Bald Mountain really got my attention, and I can remember being terrified because I was pretty young (4-5 years old).
Q: What advice would you give to a crowd of people?
A: That we should look after each other and be sensitive to those people around us–all the while looking for ways to be respectful and helpful.
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: I’m totally doing it. I get to work with kids, with young adults, and with seasoned professionals performing some of the best music ever composed. That said, I would like to drive an F1 car.
Q: What is your favorite music or band that you would like to see (dead or alive)?
A: My favorite music is classical music, but I also love jazz. Jazz musicians are particularly brilliant because of their skill to improvise with each other without printed music—being able to do that at a high level is inspirational to me. Oscar Peterson, The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Sting (no human is cooler), John Mayer are some of the other vibes I enjoy most. To get started in classical music…try Bach, Chopin, Holst, Tchaikovsky, or Vaughan Williams…
Q: What current / former local business makes you the most nostalgic about Greendale?
A: I live in the village just off Broad Street, so Ferch’s leaps to mind. Every business there contributes to the special quality of our wonderful community.
Q: If you could choose anyone alive and not a relative, with whom would you love to have lunch? Why? And where locally would you take them for lunch?
A: Chesty Puller at The Panther Pub. Probably because I am reading about him right now–he’s the most decorated Marine in history. My father was a Marine Colonel, and his closest friend, my godfather, was a Marine aviator, Lt. General John I. Hudson. The intellect and leadership of that generation was inspiring to grow up around.
Q: What is your favorite thing or something unique about Greendale?
A: We have a wonderful culture in the village that blends what’s current with what’s traditional. Our leaders have managed to retain and cultivate something special and worth keeping that makes Greendale feel like a community. You can walk just about anywhere; the kids to school, the residents and the visitors on the many paths and throughout our businesses. Greendale provides a place that can bring out the best in people.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
A: Right here. I work in Milwaukee and make my home in Greendale–happy to be in both places!
Q: Even for friends and family, what is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
A: I love racing in any form; mostly auto racing, though. I lived for a time in North Carolina, so NASCAR (when the cars were actually stock), now, IMSA racing and Formula 1 are two favorites. I appreciate the line that racers have to take and the fine driving qualities they need to overtake another racer, the variability of the car and the ability of the driver. It’s all fascinating to me—the technology, skill, and bravery.
Q: What 3 words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
A: Oasis, Family, and Happiness.
Q: If you were cast into a major motion picture and had your choice of anyone to be your co-star, who would you choose?
A: Ed Harris—he’s awesome.
Q: If you had a full-time staff member that was fully paid for, who would you choose?