A week overdue, but at long last (and I know you’ve all* awaited this moment, barely able to function in the interim), here’s the skinny on my trip to the Bowling Green New Music and Art Festival.
* All = the 2 or 3 people patient enough to check this blog even though it changes at a glacial pace
I arrived Friday afternoon, just in time for a run-through of “Loose Id for Orchestra” with the Bowling Green Philharmonia. I didn’t have the presence of mind to snap any photos, because the sheer wall of sound coming at me was … well, LOUD. Holy crap I’d forgotten how loud this piece is. I hadn’t heard it in 8 1/2 years, and was nervous whether it would actually work out in the ‘real world’ – my fears were unfounded – the orchestra and Emily Freeman Brown ripped the head off the beast and fed it to the audience (me) with fearless abandon. Which is what should be marked in the score, now that I think about it.
It was a euphoric rush, and I knew with a little more focus and precision at the concert, it would be an unstoppable force.
A little while later, I attended the Wind Ensemble rehearsal for “Alchemy in Silent Spaces” – this was to be their dress rehearsal (no time the actual day of the concert), so this was my only chance to hear the entire piece, and only once. Fortunately, there was little to adjust – we worked out the climax section of the second movement, which no one ever quite gets, because I’ve never quite figured out how to notate the tempo fluctuations in that section. After singing it to Bruce Moss, and he sang it back several times, they ran it, and nailed it. I hope to post an example on the site at some point. Anyway, they did a bangup job on the piece – it’s a real pleasure to hear the whole piece in its entirety. It works as separate movements, but this ‘alchemy,’ or ‘transformation,’ that the title refers to, only happens when the entire work is presented as a whole.
I managed to get a pic of the band rehearsal:
The next evening, I’m rather nervous about the concert – I’m on the program with Sam Adler (who’s sitting next to me), but I’m the one closing out BOTH halves of the concert. First off is the Wind Ensemble:
(special thanks to my host, the unstoppable BCM PR machine, Ken Thompson, for the bird’s-eye shot)
They did a great job with the piece – the first movement was just a tad too fast, but still worked – once that adrenaline kicks in, it’s quite difficult to hold it to 40 bpm. They smoked the climax of the second mvt., and the third erupted with just the right amount of ferocity (by which I mean a LOT). Huge thanks to Bruce Moss and the band for pulling off 20 minutes of my music with so little rehearsal time – I loved hearing you do this piece.
The second half featured the orchestra, and a piece of Sam Adler’s I grew to like quite a bit – “The Fixed Desire of the Human Heart” – some gorgeous writing for the strings in the beginning and ending sections – you’d think he’d written the book on orchestration or something (yeah, yeah, bad joke, I know – couldn’t resist).
My turn came, and the orchestra nearly caused mortal injuries to the audience. Perfect. Dr. Brown actually got air on the last note of the piece. What more could I ask for?
After the concert, I managed to get shots with Drs. Moss and Brown:
Sunday brought a wonderful surprise addition to the festival: Dr. Brown and the Philharmonia recorded “Loose Id” for their next CD release on Albany Records! I will of course post information about that when it’s released sometime next year. They did a good job on a difficult piece, with only a minimal number of takes (it’s just not possible to play the piece repeatedly – it’s an absolute bear for the brass sections). This will be a great recording – thank you to the orchestra for playing your brains out so late into the evening to do this!
Recording booth inhabitants Andrew Pelletier (who ran the session with overwhelming competence and put me at complete ease) and Titus (I have no idea if I spelled his name correctly, but he was quite cool to hang out with in the overheated booth).
Many, many thanks are in order to the Bowling Green faculty and staff who made the festival possible and who made my stay so pleasant – Dean Kennell, Burton Beerman, Marilyn Shrude, Josh Plocher, Bruce Moss, Emily Freeman Brown, Ken Thompson, and many more, whom I may not have even met, but know you put in many long hours to make the festival happen. I had a great time there, and look forward to my next visit!
But wait – there’s more…
After a delightful breakfast on Monday morning, I headed south to Wittenberg College in Springfield to speak with some students there – tried to impart some words of wisdom to the aspiring music educators and composers assembled (and ate some mighty fine brownies in the process – thanks for those!). Afterward, I worked with the string orchestra on my piece, “Rise” which I ‘d never heard before – was great to finally hear it. This program is being resurrected by old BCM friend and good buddy, Milt Allen (from Tranzendental Danse of Joi fame) – at the start of semester there were 4 members, and now there’s 23, so he’s making great progress:
Finally finished the evening (Halloween night, actually), back at the Allen household where Margaret, Madeline, and Ben displayed their massive candy bounty from the evenings trick-or-treating. Mmm….candy….
After that, it was time to make my way home…
Thank you again to everyone I saw and met on this trip – it was an extremely positive week, and this is when there’s no better gig on the planet than to be a composer – what could beat traveling to friendly places, meeting great people, hearing your music performed, and then being fed copiously?