Remembering Michael Kamen & Mr. Holland’s Opus

This week marked the 7th anniversary of the death of Michael Kamen. Kamen was a talented musician and music producer. He was also an Academy Award-nominated film composer, and wrote the original music for one of my favorite music films, Mr. Holland’s Opus, released in 1995/96. The movie, starring Richard Dreyfuss, chronicles the journey of an aspiring composer who takes a high school music teaching position reluctantly out of necessity and grows to love the work and the impact that he has on the lives of his students.

Shortly after that film was completed, Kamen founded an organization called Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps bring musical instruments to schools in need. After Hurricane Katrina they formed an emergency fund for school music programs in the Gulf Coast area. Sadly, Kamen was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1997 and died of a heart attack in 2003, but his legacy lives on through his music, and perhaps more importantly through his Foundation.

I’m always intrigued by people who achieve great things, yet find a new calling in life and an opportunity to impact lives to a greater extent. Celebrities like Danny Thomas, Christopher Reeve, and Michael J. Fox found challenging missions later in life that have had greater impact on the lives of others than even their considerable achievements in entertainment.

I think it sends a message to all of us. Whether you believe in fate, destiny, religion, or a higher power, I think it’s important to understand that our journey in life is a winding road and that we may be called to change direction every once in a while to have the greatest impact on others.

Thanks to Michael Kamen for great music, a great movie, a wonderful foundation, and an extraordinary legacy.

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