As busy as life can be, it helps, from time to time, to sit back and reflect on what has been accomplished. Typically, the best times for reflection tend to fall over the winter holidays ( AFTER the last Christmas job, final exam, jury etc ...) and the time from the traditional end of the concert season, before the summer hits. For me, the time from May 15-June 15 is a mini "holiday" break, allowing some time for review and practice. Music for all, Sewanee, and the Mason Percussion Academy loom large in my schedule, but for now, I would like to share a few highlights from the past season - roughly broken down in performance and educational events.
Starting first with Mason:
Fall 2014 offered me the opportunity to serve as the interim conductor for the Mason Wind Symphony. My good friend and colleague, Mark Camphouse, took a well earned study leave to, among other things, complete his latest book, and he trusted me to take the reins of his ensemble for a few months. Joining me was Denny Stokes, director of the Northern Virginia Youth Winds.
We had a blast - collaborating with Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass, Doc Nix and the Green Machine for our opening season concert.
For our second concert Nov 13, 2014 - we were once again collaborating - this time across a couple of different languages. George Mason University was honored to host Col. Zhang Haifeng, Chief Conductor and Head of the Peoples Liberation Army Band, and his colleague Junqiu Gu for a semester of intensive study and cultural exchange. Col. Zhang worked with many of our faculty, visited our military bands, and attended many performances in and around Washington DC. We were honored to host him.
Back to the concert:
We chose to highlight music from across the world. Denny took Russia ( Prokofiev and Shostakovitch) I had the honor of conducting Gu in the Webern Concertino and the Debussy Engulfed Cathedral. The highlight, however, was Col. Zhang and his stunning performance of two original works from China, and a exciting encore - the Star Spangled Banner. He is a master musician, and our students are better for having had the chance to work with him
Around the same time all of this was happening, I was preparing the mason percussion group to perform at the Virginia Music Educators Conference in Norfolk. The Mason Percussion Group is a collection of our finest performers who work without a conductor and perform some of the most challenging literature in the cannon. For this performance tour, we took a diverse program including the Black Page of Zappa, Tinplay by Per Andreasson, Trevino Catching Shadows, and the third movement of Vinao's new sextet - Water. It was a great time, and an honor to play for my colleagues in the state.
This was, of course, on top of some terrific student recitals and concerts of my own. A great fall semester for sure
Next post - some pictures and a spring semester recap. Also - previewing SSMF, Music for all, and a chat about freelance work!