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UMass Amherst, Alchemy, CBDNA

March 26, 2006

Yesterday, Laura Rexroth and the UMass-Amherst Wind Ensemble performed the first movement of Alchemy in Silent Spaces at the CBDNA Eastern Div. Conference in Montclair, NJ. First of all, they sounded great. I heard them a couple of weeks ago when I visited Amherst, and they sounded good then, but they’ve definitely “gelled” as an ensemble since then. All the pieces were markedly more confident and solid in performance yesterday. If you’ve read any of my previous entries, you’ll know that listening to the first mvt. of Alchemy is always somewhat stressful, since it’s extraordinarily quiet for the first 4 minutes or so. Given that, what happened yesterday during this section must have been inevitable: the PA system (specifically, the speakers directly above the stage) started spurting out random blasts of static pops and clicks. It was bizarre. Laura made the right call, and stopped the piece, until the house techs could figure out the problem. I think they eventually just shut the whole PA system down, which I was happy with. Regardless, the band remained calm and focused, and began again, and played really well. I met Laura when she was doing her doctoral studies at IU with Ray Cramer, when he premiered Alchemy, and she told me then and there that she would do this piece when she had an ensemble of her own. She’s stayed true to her word, and I’m incredibly grateful to her for her musicianship and dedication to this piece.

Afterward, I managed to snag a picture with British Wind Scene Guru (that’s my own appelation for him, nothing official), Timothy Reynish, who happened to be at the conference:

And of course, here’s Dr. Rexroth with me immediately after the concert – she seemed much more relaxed and relieved!

To everyone in the band: thank you again for working so hard on my music. It was great to see all of you again, and I wish you all the best!