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Arkansas All-State 2006

February 18, 2006 Uncategorized

Because of an imminent ice storm, the Arkansas All-State Convention held its concerts today, instead of tomorrow, as regularly scheduled. I drove down early this morning to work with the Symphonic Band, under Rick Blatti’s direction, on my piece, MetaMarch. Two nights ago, Rick asked if I’d be interested in conducting the piece, and I of course jumped at the chance. These concerts were in honor of J. Raymond Brandon, who passed away in December at age 98. Mr. Brandon was an icon of the Arkansas school music establishment (an aside: he was in fact the teacher whom my father student-taught with, and later took over for, at North Little Rock High School back in the early 1970s. The connection continues: Mr. Brandon’s daughter, Lisa, was my band director when I was in high school, so our two families go back many years).

Anyway, in honor of him, the program included Francis McBeth’s “Grace Praeludium” which was commissioned by and dedicated to Raymond Brandon several years ago. Because of the shortened schedule, the concert was whittled down to only two pieces. Mr. Blatti called the section leaders together after we got the news this morning at 10am, and had them vote on the pieces they wanted to perform – and they chose McBeth’s and mine! I was honored, and I had a great time pulling MetaMarch together with less than an hour’s worth of rehearsal. I’m indebted to Rick and his generosity in letting me conduct my piece (which turned out to be half the program!), and I look forward to working with him again. After the concert, we grabbed some lunch and I gave him a ride to the airport, and we batted around ideas for my next piece (which will be the final one in my Parody Suite series), including the all-important title…

To the band, Julia Reynolds, John Webb, Rick Blatti, and everyone who improvised and rescheduled the whole convention at the drop of a hat, my heartfelt thanks for letting me be a small part!

PS To everyone in the band – I wasn’t kidding about MySpace – come by and visit me!

Here’s a couple of pics from rehearsal this morning…look at all those tubas! And the trombones, man oh man – some seriously meaty sound coming from over there…