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Rhode Island Recap

March 4, 2006

Just have a few minutes before I head back to Amherst for tonight’s concert up there. Around 6pm, I met with the Brown University Wind Ensemble, and the director, Matthew McGarrell, surprised me and asked if I would like to conduct Dusk that night! Being completely unprepared, I of course said “yes,” and off we went! Had some good run-throughs, rescored a couple of things to make up for only having two horns, and it all came together nicely. I headed back to Rob Franzblau’s (RIC director) office to study Dusk (and deface it with red ink):

Meanwhile, Rob was doing last-minute study of Alchemy:

At 8pm, Brown kicked the show off with Ellington’s Creole Rhapsody which from what little I could hear, came off well (I was backstage quietly freaking out about conducting Dusk). Eventually my turn came up, and despite getting lost at the end of the first page (I turned the page too soon and lost my mind for some inexplicable reason), the band played on and ignored my obvious facial displays of terror, and just played the music. I rejoined them at bar 13, the whole thing came off exceedingly well – they put a lot of passion and power into the piece, and I think the audience felt it, too. I know I had a great time working with the band – wish it had been for more than just a few minutes!

After intermission, the Rhode Island College Wind Ensemble took the stage, and opened their half with Holst’s Hammersmith: Prelude and Scherzo, conducted by graduate student Jonathan D’Amico. It’s a meaty, difficult piece, and Maestro D’Amico and the band did a fine job with it. After that was the final piece on the program, Alchemy, which is also *slightly* difficult. The band really rose to the challenge, though, and in particular the first movement, the percussion, harp, and piano did an excellent job of creating extremely long phrases out of very few notes. The tempos were all perfect (fantastic job, Rob!), and special kudos to Katie for all the solo flute work. The opening of the second movement was wonderful – all you had to do was relax and take your time! 🙂

Matt, me, and Rob after the concert

We had a short Q&A session after the concert which was fun, and then it was off to Greg’s for some fish & chips and a relaxing beverage. A contingent of the RIC band was there occupying a couple of tables:

(they’re all flashing gang symbols the “shocker,” but I’m just making ‘bunny ears’…I guess I’m even more square than I thought…)

A huge, huge ‘thank-you’ to both bands, Matt and Rob, and everyone who came to the concert. Thank you for inviting me to be a part of this, and for playing my music with such conviction!