By Sarah Mouchet
staff writer 

Meet James Peck


January 6, 2024

Mark Burdick.

U.S. Air Force Band Veteran and accomplished musician James Peck prepares to conduct the TPOPS orchestra at their 2023 Family Holiday Singalong concert.

James Peck, conductor of the Tehachapi Pops Orchestra and 1st clarinet for the Tehachapi Symphony Orchestra, has lived a very vibrant, musical life, which included leading the music ministry at Bear Valley Church for a decade.

Before he developed his life in the local music community, Peck lived through several music careers. By the time Peck moved to Bear Valley in 2001, he had played for the U.S. Air Force, created his own band and made a 36-year career of teaching music.

Mark Burdick.

The new Adult Daycare Healthcare Center (ADHC) provided the perfect venue for the TPOPS 2023 Family Holiday Singalong. Families with children of all ages gathered for a joyous afternoon of Christmas singalong caroling.

In 1960, right after Peck started attending San Fernando Valley State College in Northridge, he was offered a position on the 562nd U.S. Air Force Band in Van Nuys, California. For nine years he would play saxophone for the Air Force, honoring his fellow veterans and connecting with his community through music. During this time, Peck finished his bachelor's degree and began what would turn into a 36-year career in music education. Peck taught music at public schools full-time in Las Virgenes and Madera school districts and completed his master's degree in 1975, where he was able to pick up additional part-time teaching positions at several community colleges.

Peck attempted to retire on two separate occasions, but came out of it both times to keep teaching music. In 1987, he created his own band, Curtis James, and by 2001 he had moved to Bear Valley Springs. Today, he is retired but continues to live out his musical passions as conductor of the TPOPs Orchestra, clarinetist in Tehachapi Symphony and with his band.


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