2010 Redux

2010 was a big ol’ year.  Here are a some things that happened…

In January, I finished “Xerxes,” my (angry) concert march. (Don’t do a “Xerxes” Google image search.)

In February, the Texas 5A All-State Symphonic Band performed “Aurora Awakes,” with Gary Hill conducting.  I also travelled to Ball State, where I received a (fake) honorary doctorate.

March was amazing.  Joe Alessi gave the premiere of “Harvest: Concerto for Trombone” with the West Point Band, and we made a studio recording as well (which is available streaming right now, and will be available for download on iTunes in February).

AEJ and I also went to the Austin Rodeo, which resulted in one of my crankiest blog entries ever.

In April, I posted a Defense of Marching Band, a university performed “Asphalt Cocktail” without renting it, and my bathtub friend Jennifer Higdon won a Pulitzer Prize for her wonderful Violin Concerto (which I had the pleasure of hearing in Dallas in May — where we also had a tasty dinner).

In June, we took a road trip to New York City (1500 miles with a cat)…

… where AEJ took philosophy courses at NYU…

… we had a so-so dinner at Morimoto

a whimsical (yes, I said whimsical) dinner at WD-50

…and I bought an iPhone 4 on launch day at the busiest Apple Store in the US.

July was filled with more over-the-top NYC dining, including several dinners at Scarpetta (now our favorite “nice but not ridiculous” restaurant in NYC)…

… an epic 12-course dinner (with 12 paired wines!) at Eleven Madison Park

… and an overrated dinner at Blue Hill.

Oh, and even with all of that eating and drinking, I somehow also managed to write a new piece: “Hymn to a Blue Hour.”

In August, we wrapped up our summer in NYC with an (also overrated) dinner at Bouley (could we please stop with the sous vide?!)…

… a (not overrated at all) dinner at Mario Batali’s restaurant, Babbo

(where an optional spoonful of balsamic vinegar costs more than your average meal — oh, NYC, you make me chuckle)

… and one final NYC dinner at Scarpetta.

In September, I bitched about titles, and Joe Alessi came to UT Austin and gave a spectacular performance of “Harvest,” with Jerry Junkin conducting.

I spent my birthday — October 1, and it’s never too early to shop for it, hint, hint — at the University of Michigan.

Somehow, that was my only blog entry in October, although I also had a great visit to Florida State (which somehow hasn’t been blogged yet).  At the end of the month, the UT Wind Ensemble made a BluRay surround recording of “Kingfishers Catch Fire.”

In November, I wrote a new “grade 3” piece called “Foundry,” for “found” percussion and concert band.  (The piece premieres in January, and will be officially released in June.)

“Hymn to a Blue Hour” premiered at the beautiful Mesa State College in December.

In “news for the year,” according to the UILForms website, “Undertow” was the most-performed “grade 4” piece for UIL in Texas this year, with 57 schools — including a staggering 15 middle schools! — performing the piece at UIL (which is basically the Texas name for solo and ensemble contest, although it includes a zillion other non-music categories as well).  (If you check the list, and you’re like, “Liar! ‘Undertow’ only had 54 schools, not 57,” — for some reason, three uses of “Undertow” are at the bottom of the list, as if there’s a second version with an identical title.  Is there something somebody isn’t telling me?)  I’m honored that so many schools picked the piece, but I’d have loved to have had clinics with more of those groups.  (Email me, Texas folk!  I live here, and I promise that I’ll pass the mandatory background check!)  And while 57 is a lot, check out the totals for the overall most-performed works.  204!  204 schools in Texas played “Moscow, 1941” by Brian Balmages.  Wow, I need to try to write a Grade 2 piece.  (Okay, probably not going to happen, considering how difficult it was to write that Grade 3 piece.  I don’t know how guys like Brian do it.)

There are big things coming in 2011.  In February, the two 5A Texas All-State bands are performing my music (both “Hymn to a Blue Hour” and “Asphalt Cocktail,” which will make for a weirdly bipolar couple of days of rehearsals).  Joe Alessi is making a second studio recording of “Harvest” in February (this time at the University of Florida).  March will see a performance of “Harvest” by the University of Washington Wind Ensemble, with Koichiro Yamamoto — Principal Trombonist for the Seattle Symphony — playing the solo part, at the CBDNA national convention.  (Koichiro is also performing the piece next summer in Japan and Taiwan.)  April includes a residency at Michigan State, where Joe Lulloff will perform my Soprano Sax Concerto.

After that is anybody’s guess, as we wait to hear of AEJ’s grad school application results.  2011 is going to be a doozy.

Have a safe and happy New Year!


A friend says

While UIL sponsors "solo and ensemble contest," John, your works are performed in the concert part of UIL's C&SR (concert & sight reading) contest. Congratulations on the number of performances; as the work becomes better known, that number will probably increase.

UIL sponsors many other competitions; besides music, it also is involved in athletic and academic competitions, theatre, etc. etc.

Steven Ward says

Looking forward to the new full orchestra version of "Under the Rug" in 2011!

eric says

so does the fact that you said "Somehow, that was my only blog entry in October, although I also had a great visit to Florida State (which somehow hasn’t been blogged yet)." mean that you will blog about it? we've been waiting!

Chris says

I hate to be a buzzkill, but UILForms is for some reason multiplying all of those numbers by 3, so Undertow was played 19 times last year. It's still number one on the grade 4 list.

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