LaGrange residents may know Sgt. Robert Kirby for his protect and serve duties in the criminal investigation division at the LaGrange Police Department, but few may know that Kirby’s first love was music composition and he is still composing music on the side.
Law enforcement wasn’t part of Kirby’s original plan. He earned his undergraduate degree in music education at Jacksonville State University in Alabama. While he was a music teacher and band director at Troup County High School, Kirby decided to take a sabbatical and study music composition at Georgia State University. It was only after taking a part-time job as a security officer at Six Flags that he took interest in law enforcement. After earning his graduate degree, Kirby chose not to return to teaching and applied to the LaGrange Police Department. But that hasn’t strayed Kirby from his love of music.
“It’s a hobby, but it’s almost a second job sometimes. I work all day and then I come home and write music half the night,” Kirby said.
Kirby’s latest piece, “Prayer of Serenity,” was performed by the Morehead State University Choir Concert in Morehead, Ky. After tragedy struck close friends of Kirby, he was inspired to take the “Prayer of Serenity,” written by Reinhold Niebuhr, and set it music. Kirby’s former band director, M. Scott McBride lost his only child, Molly McBride, in a car accident.
Kirby said he wanted to set the “Prayer of Serenity” to music for some time and the remorse and sadness he felt for the McBrides inspired him to finally do it.
“It’s a plea to God for serenity, courage and wisdom in difficult times and it acknowledges that we have to learn to accept things as they are on earth,” Kirby said.
Kirby approached McBride, dean of arts, humanities and social sciences at Morehead, with the piece and the university’s choir included in their fall concert held Oct. 17.
“When I really write something good, I’m not forcing it, I’m actually hearing something like it’s already written…and all I have to do it write down,” Kirby said. “The ‘Prayer of Serenity’ was one of those.”
Although, Kirby composes classical pieces, he writes music for his church to perform using religious texts. He also is quite versatile in his musical ability. He plays the piano, saxophone and tuba and can play a little bit of at least most instruments from his experience as a band director.
Kirby draws his composition inspiration from famous movie scorer John Williams, who scored Jaws and Star Wars, as well as the musical genius Johann Sebastian Bach.
“If I had a dream, I would probably be a film composer because I think that’s cool to marry up a movie with music that fits in term of this artistic whole,” he said. “If I could make a living as a composer I’d probably do that because that’s me on the inside.”
Kirby said he keeps his work as a detective sergeant and his music separate as writing music provides a creative outlet for him. Though he said his music tends to be dark, Kirby insists that his music is serious, but he is not.
“When I’m serious about listening, I listen to classical because there’s just a depth to it that you don’t find in other music,” he said.
Kirby married into music as well. His wife, a music teacher, comes from a long line of music teachers. Their three children – Katie, 15, Charlie, 9, Abby, 6, are all musically inclined as well and play several instruments.
Kirby plans to continue to compose music constantly and said he looks forward to where it takes him in the future.
Kirby’s compositions have received wide recognition across the country. In addition to scoring short films for an Atlanta film production, Kirby’s music has been performed by the Colorado State University Symphonic Band, the Elon University Symphonic Band and Chorus in North Carolina, and the Central Florida Symphony Orchestra. He also has a piece set to be performed by the LaGrange Symphony for the children’s choir Nov. 19.