Aviso: Where did you grow up?
Peterson: I grew up in Houston, Texas, so I’m a fish out of water here. I went to high school at a small private school called Kinkaid.
Aviso: What’s one of your favorite memories from high school?
Peterson: It was in my church. I was in a large Presbyterian church there and part of why I do what I do is from one of my memories there. We did a big, large work with about 150 singers and a huge orchestra, and the conductor let me come down and conduct all these singers and orchestra. For a high schooler, that’s a big deal. So, that’s one of my most profound memories that really helped me say, “You know what? I might enjoy doing this for the rest of my life.”
Aviso: Where did you go to college?
Peterson: I went to college at a small liberal arts college named Austin College in North Texas. It’s about an hour North of Dallas. It’s very much like Malone; a little bit smaller. It’s affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. I did my masters in Dallas, Texas at Southern Methodist University. I did my doctorate in The University of Arizona.
Aviso: Ohio is a far ways away from Texas. Do you like it here?
Peterson: We love Ohio. I met my wife in Arizona when we were down there, and we really enjoyed it quite a bit. I ended up doing some full time church work for a while, and I missed teaching quite a bit, so I ended up teaching in northwestern Ohio for a few years. We got connected here, started raising our son here, and the Malone job came open, so we moved over here to northeastern Ohio. Now this is home.
Aviso: What is your favorite part about teaching?
Peterson: My favorite part about the teaching is the students. Everything I do is because of the students. I might challenge them, but it’s for their growth and development as musicians and disciples.
Aviso: What are some of your favorite hobbies?
Peterson: Aside from living in the music department, I love cycling. That’s my getaway, relaxation, and it’s a good workout. I get out on the trails, get out on the streets and just go for miles and don’t think for a while. I love spending time with my son—a three-year-old—and my wife, of course. We love to cook, so sometimes we cook and have friends or students over.
Aviso: Do you have a favorite Bible verse, and if so, why is it your favorite?
Peterson: Colossians 3:16, because it talks about singing psalms with joyfulness in your heart. That is a reminder that what I do in music is biblical. But more than that, too, it has a personal memory. When I got my first job, my mom got me a plaque with that verse on it and it has been a reminder to me to keep God in all that I do.
Aviso: Have you ever done a crazy dare?
Peterson: At Chorale Retreat, I developed appendicitis and I wasn’t feeling great. The students were playing gaga ball—where you are hitting a ball in a pit and trying to hit each other in the legs and not above the knee—so they assumed I would do it, and I got in the pit and didn’t tell them I was in a lot of pain and played gaga ball with them. It was a lot of fun being in fellowship with the students, but I was in a lot of pain and didn’t tell a soul about it.
Riley Gable is a contributing writer for The Aviso AVW.