Curtis Cook ’16
Go back in time for a moment. Imagine the excitement you felt as a child entering the old Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, also known as "The Aud", for the first time to see the Buffalo Sabres play. You watch the players take the ice, hear Rick Jeanneret announce the game, and feel the roar of the crowd as the organ player engages over 19,000 fans. The feeling is electrifying and now a consistent sensation for lifelong Sabres fan and NCCC alumnus Curtis Cook ’16 as the Buffalo Sabres’ current organist.
A self-taught pianist and organist, Curtis began playing when he was 15-years old in church. "I started taking piano lessons," Curtis explained, "but after 6-months I realized it just wasn’t for me. I stopped taking lessons and started to learn by ear, although I can read music as well. The first organ lesson I ever took was when I was a student at NCCC."
In his second semester at NCCC, Curtis signed up for the Individualized Study in Music course with a focus in the organ. "I liked pushing buttons as a kid," said Curtis, "and that is a really good instrument to push buttons with; it seems like a piano on steroids. Depending upon how it’s equipped, you can play almost any instrument from it which gives me the opportunity to explore so many different sounds."
Throughout his time at NCCC, Curtis continued to explore his love of music by participating in the Theatre Department’s musical Cabaret under the direction of his Professor Brad Wingert. "I wouldn't have reached the goals in my careers if it wasn't for Brad's support. He was the professor that I could connect with and educated me on all different facets of music."
While at NCCC, Curtis began to work for a car dealership. "In January of 2016, one of the service managers knew I had a passion for music and asked if I played the organ. I told him I did and he asked me for my business card for his neighbor who worked for the Buffalo Sabres. He mentioned that he didn’t know if they were looking for an organist at that time, but it couldn’t hurt to give them my information."
It wasn’t until July of 2016 that Curtis received an email from the Director of Game Presentation at the Buffalo Sabres asking him to come in and perform for a pre-season game. Curtis exclaimed, "I almost jumped out of my seat when I saw that email! It was a make or break moment for me, but I loved every second of it. For the rest of that season, I rotated with one other organist, but as luck would have it he moved out of the area at the end of the year. That resulted in my opportunity to be the full-time organist for all the games. Now I’m proudly going into my fourth season."
Curtis continued on to say, "I’ve loved the Sabres ever since I was a kid and to have the opportunity to bring my love of hockey and music together is something I’m so grateful for. I never thought I would have this chance."
In addition to working as the Buffalo Sabres organist, Curtis still plays for his church, works at Shea’s Performing Arts Center as an organist, and is an Adjunct Music Instructor at NCCC. "The advice I give my students is to take any opportunity that’s given to you because you don't know where it can lead or who might be able to help in your career, your education, and all facets of life. Stay determined and strive to learn something new every day while continuing to pursue your goals. NCCC has so many opportunities to explore your dreams so take advantage of them while you’re there."