September 27, 2006
ASU, The Return: Part 1, Rehearsal
I’m back home in LA, only for about 36 hours, after a whirlwind 30 hours at Arizona State. I leave for UT-Austin first thing tomorrow morning. First, though here are some shots from Tempe…
After a quick 55 minute flight to Phoenix on Monday, Gary Hill picked me up at the airport and took me to lunch on campus. We had Middle Eastern cuisine, starting with lentil soup.
I spoke to the ASU comp majors that afternoon. They had good questions — as they did when I visited two years ago — and it was an enjoyable session. Afterwards, a few people approached me to ask for some one-on-one lesson time, which was very flattering. (I met with two the next day, and hope to meet with some more when I’m back in mid-October.) After the seminar, I met up with two friends from my last time at ASU, Karl & Kendra. We headed out for drinks at Ruby Tuesday. Damn place totally tricked us. The sign in the window was like, “Happy Hour!,” so we went in, expecting, I dunno — Happy Hour! — and found that at Ruby Tuesday, Happy Hour starts at 9pm. WTF is that?! Still, we were too lazy to head back across the street to Chili’s, and we ordered a round of drinks.
We were all pretty hungry, and dinner wasn’t for a few hours, so we ordered an appetizer sampler — specifically the “4-Way Sampler.” A tasty treat, with buffalo wings, Tuesday tenders (really, just chicken fingers), Southwestern spring rolls (quite yummy), and fried cheese sticks.
We eventually met up with the rest of our dinner group — Mike Markowski and his girlfriend, Linh. We all headed across the street to P. F. Chang’s. (Yes, that’s the three corners of this intersection — P. F. Chang’s, Ruby Tuesday, and Chili’s. This, my friend, is a college town.) The festivities continued with more cocktails. Kendra had a mai tai.
We all tried to order something different so we could share. Linh picked the calamari, which is particularly tasty at P. F. Chang’s. Good call, Linh.
Eventually our table was full of delicious food — most of it orange in color. Karl peeks over the rice.
Kendra loves rice. Here, she takes a bite the size of her forearm. (okay, that might be staged)
Uh oh! Water spill! Yes, things got a little rowdy. No problem — most of it ended up on my plate, which, at the time, only had rice on it.
So, because the TSA decided not to allow you to carry toiletries onto a plane until Tuesday, but I had flown on Monday — and refused to check my bag for a one-night stay — I had no toothpaste. Karl and Kendra agreed to drive me to Walgreen’s for a travel tube, sparing everybody in Tempe the chance of any skank breath the next morning. (Skank breath? Is that the right term? Perhaps not.) Karl’s car was making a funky sound on the way to Walgreen’s, and I heard it, but I didn’t say anything because it was the sound that my car makes whenever I drive on the crappy roads in LA. I always think, Do I have a flat tire?, but I never do — it’s just the terrible road conditions. After we left Walgreen’s, though, it became quite clear to everybody that we had, yes, a flat tire.
Ah, bummer. Well, that’s okay. Karl will change the tire! The trunk is awfully dark. If only there were a good light source. The cell phone light wasn’t cutting it, so I was like, Hey, I’ll use the flash from my camera! It was extremely helpful. For, like, 1/64th of a second.
So Karl gets out the spare tire, and… it’s also shredded. Was this some kind of lame frat prank? Did somebody puncture Karl’s tire, and break into the trunk and shred the spare, too? Okay, probably not. (The car was purchased used a few years ago — but what kind of dealer sells a used car with a bad spare?! Karl, I’ll write an Angry Letter for you, if you need me to.) With no spare, the car was going nowhere. We were only about a 5-minute walk from my hotel — and the IHoP next to it — so we headed there to wait for Karl’s wife to come pick them up. I have to say — IHoP is awfully tasty around 11pm after a bit of drinking.
The next day, I met with Ryan and Tom — comp students at ASU. Both are really talented. Ryan is a sophomore, and he’s not even a comp major, because ASU requires comp majors to gain admittance into the music school on a principal instrument. As in, they have to be good enough as an instrumentalist to get into both an instrumental studio AND the comp studio. This is asinine. I can’t play a damn thing. Christopher Rouse, who visited ASU a few weeks ago, also can’t play anything. Corigliano is a pretty mediocre pianist, and doesn’t play anything else. You mean to tell me that Rouse and Corigliano — two Pulitzer winners — couldn’t get into ASU as comp majors?
Re. Tar. Ded.
But back to Ryan & Tom. Ryan has a very appealing looking band piece that he’s writing. Totally not “bandy,” and with cool tonality throughout. The guy has a great ear. Tom — I met with him when I was there two years ago — is a junior now, and damn, he’s doing just fine. He showed me two pieces, both completely different. One was for jazz band, and I liked it, but I have absolutely no knowledge of how that kind of music works, so I couldn’t say much more than, “damn. This is good, and I can’t do this.” He also had a choral piece that was stunning. One part got me a bit misty-eyed it was so good.
Next up was the rehearsal with the wind ensemble on “Turbine.” Man, this group is just so fantastic. They’re still more than two weeks away from the concert, so they’re only going to get better, but already, a lot of it was smokin’. I re-orchestrated a lot of the brass material this summer, after showing the piece to a freakishly good orchestrator (and good friend and great composer), Wataru Hokoyama. Wataru had a lot of advice, and I incorporated all of it. The guy is brilliant. It was incredible to finally hear the revisions, and hear them played by the group at ASU. The concert is going to be incredible.
I’m off to pack for Austin — and Texas Tech, where I head straight after Austin. (UT Austin is doing “Redline Tango” on Sunday, and Texas Tech is doing “Turbine” a week from Thursday. Chen Yi, the nicest composer alive, will also be in residence at Texas Tech when I’m there!) I fly back home on the 6th, and leave again on the 7th for a personal trip to Florida. I return from that on the 10th, have a belated birthday dinner with AEJ on the 11th (at Dan Tana’s — maybe we’ll see Clooney!), and then leave again first thing on the 12th to return to ASU.
More from the road…