Brian Knowlton '01, J.D. “When presented with life’s opportunities, say yes, even if you don’t know how you’ll proceed, and trust your future self to capably rise to the occasion.”
For Brian, these are more than words. They capture a combination of intuition, talent, work ethic, and confidence that have shaped his life and remarkable career in entertainment.
Things could have gone differently. Growing up in San Antonio, Texas, Brian barely graduated high school in 1993, but he played tuba well, and was recruited into the Third Marine Aircraft Wing Band. While a Marine, he studied with world-renowned Los Angeles tubist Tommy Johnson and attended night school with hopes of entering college. He was offered a generous scholarship to attend Indiana University, but a call from Puget Sound tuba instructor Ron Munson motivated him to attend Puget Sound.
His studies at Puget Sound, Brian describes, were pivotal, even life-changing. Though he struggled early in his courses, Puget Sound’s focus on writing and its hands-on faculty allowed Brian to develop his writing skills, which he now describes as his most important professional asset. By graduation, he had earned numerous accolades, including being named a Fulbright finalist to study at the Lucerne School Conservatory in Switzerland, earning a summer research grant to study with major tubists throughout the United States, receiving a summer appointment to the Aspen School of Music, being hired through audition to “sub” for the Seattle Symphony, and earning top scholarship offers for graduate study from the New England Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music, and University of Southern California.
Brian chose USC and was soon part of the L.A. music scene, playing with the Los Angeles Brass, Santa Monica Symphony, and working as a freelance musician. He joined an 18-month national tour of the Tony and Emmy award-winning Broadway show Blast!. At the end of the tour, Brian helped develop a performing brass ensemble at SeaWorld in San Antonio, combining cutting-edge live digital processing and sequenced accompaniments with an engaging theatrical performance style. He was soon appointed Senior Production Manager of SeaWorld’s Entertainment Department, overseeing creative development and production of all new shows. He and his team produced more than 100 shows, large-scale events, and music festivals, some of which received the highest ratings in the company’s history and awards in international competitions. He now serves as Director of Production, overseeing multimillion dollar budgets and an extensive creative and production team.
But the story doesn’t stop there. Along the way, Brian produced numerous soundtracks for live shows and performed as a recording artist with the Seattle Symphony and in studios in Nashville. He conceived of and was creative director for Endangered Instruments, a Yamaha-sponsored nonprofit music organization that produced and performed musical shows for 60,000 schoolchildren, contributing to a 27-percent increase in enrollment in music programs in San Antonio schools. He also—somehow—enrolled at St. Mary’s School of Law, focused on entertainment law, earning his Juris Doctor, passing the Texas bar and obtaining his license in 2013. He is now practicing law in Texas in addition to his duties at SeaWorld. During his studies Brian was published by the American University Intellectual Property Brief and asked to write an article addressing intellectual property issues arising within the entertainment production process by the Federal Circuit Bar Association, a national organization for the bar of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the second highest court in the nation. Indeed Brian had learned to write!
Who knows what new opportunities await Brian? One thing is clear: He will continue saying “yes” to unfamiliar opportunities, trusting his future self to rise to the occasion.
Spokane, Tacoma, New York, Denver: Shawn Bayer '02 has been traveling! Coming to Puget Sound from Spokane, Washington, Shawn majored in percussion while completing his bachelor of music degree with elective studies in business. He played in the Wind Ensemble, University Orchestra, University Band, and Percussion Ensemble, and he was active performing and recording with his band, The Funk If I Know. He served as the cultural events programmer for ASUPS, completed an internship at Broadway Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Tacoma, and was active in his fraternity, Sigma Nu. He also spent a summerat the Aspen Music Festival and School, having been accepted into its audio recording institute.
Shawn developed an interest in the nonprofit world, which led to his pursuing a graduate degree in arts administration at Columbia University. He started his professional career with the Riverside Symphony in Manhattan, as operations manager and development associate while continuing to play in jazz and rock bands. Feeling a pull to return to the West, Shawn accepted a position at the Denver Film Society, where currently he is the corporate sponsorship manager. He still finds time to stay active as a musician as a member of the rock band Curious Yellow. Concurrent activities defined Shawn's Puget Sound experience, and they continue to do so in his rich and varied life in Denver.
A graduate of Lincoln High School, Tacoma native Jared Williams '04 came to Puget Sound as a transfer student from Pierce College. While completing his Bachelor of Music degree in music education, Jared sang in the Adelphian Concert Choir and Underground Jazz, performed in Opera Scenes, and had a lead role in the Puget Sound production of Pirates of Penzance. After graduating, He entered the Police Academy and is now one of Tacoma's finest, serving as a patrol officer for the Tacoma Police Department. He continues to remain active in music through his church, serving as a keyboardist for services and special events.
Jared remembers his time at Puget Sound fondly, a time when he met a wide variety of wonderful people at a college that challenged and enriched him with a "great learning environment." He also has been able to put his skills as an educator to use, now mentoring the next generation of police officers in his role as a police training officer.
Other music alumni (majors and minors) active in fields outside of music: