And at 7:30 p.m. today, he will perform at the AU homecoming concert at Park Place Church of God, 501 College Drive, and receive the 2011 Outstanding Music Alumni Award.
Coolidge, who graduated from AU in 1987 with a Bachelor of Arts in applied music, said he was asked to come back and play in the early 1990s.
“It was a lot of fun thing then, but the chance to do this and actually be granted an honor like this is quite humbling,” he said. “I’m looking forward to doing it again and having a lot of fun with the kids.”
Growing up in Anderson with a music director of a father, and after seeing some of the trumpet players with his church choir, Coolidge said he wanted to play.
He began in the third or fourth grade, earlier than elementary schools typically offer band, and went on to perform in middle school, high school and college, playing a variety of groups and styles.
“That probably planted some seeds as to what I am doing now as far as variety goes,” he said.
When looking at colleges, the opportunity to go to a bigger school did present itself, but Coolidge said he hadn’t quite committed to music enough to want to leave town.
“The four years being kind of a big fish in a small pond really helped cement my love for the music,” he said, “and wanting to make a career out of it.”
With less pressure and more opportunities, he began to realize performing was what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.
“The more I played and the more I participated in different groups, the more interested I became,” he said.
He remembers doing a musical in Reardon Auditorium shortly after it opened.
After completing graduate school at Indiana University and spending 11 years performing with Disney, Coolidge and his wife moved to Phoenix, where he said he has the chance to approach other opportunities instead of being tied to one job.
“It was refreshing to be able to answer the phone and, no matter what the time or job, being able to say ‘Yeah, I’ll be there. No problem, I’ll be there. I’ll do it.’”
As a freelancer, Coolidge keeps busy with a large variety of performances, including some high profile acts like playing back-up for celebrities passing through town, doing “pretty much anything and everything,” he said.
“A real highlight is being able to play with some of the best players in the world, to rub elbows with them and swap stories,” Coolidge said of working with trumpet greats like Bobby Shew.
While in Anderson, Coolidge said he plans to spend time with his parents, who still live here, and visit with friends from close-by.
—Dani Palmer is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Story republished with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.