Beware the “Stampede”

I heard the University of North Texas Wind Symphony perform live tonight. (Thanks to Sean R. for schlepping me up there and back.) I’d heard that they were a great ensemble, and man alive, it’s true. Eugene Corporon runs a hell of a program there. The wind symphony is tight.

They played the same program that they’re playing at TMEA in San Antonio on Thursday, and it was nice to get a preview tonight. The whole program was played exceptionally well, as I said, but one piece in particular stood out. That piece was “Stampede” by Steve Bryant. Steve has crafted a piece that’s both witty and gritty, at times toe-tapping, and other times far too rhymically complex to tap along at all. I totally dug it. I got the impression that it’s pretty wickedly difficult, but the UNT winds made it just sound fun. I’m excited to hear it again on Thursday night — and hopefully see the score. Steve has a real winner with this one.

Grapevine’s performance of “Redline Tango” last night was a blast. I still can’t believe they did as well as they did. It doesn’t seem logically possible to me that a high school band can be that good.

This afternoon, I visited with the TCU conducting grad students. They had a lot of great questions, and we had a good chat. I also got a few tips from them that are helping me with orchestration ideas on the new piece. For example, it turns out that a lot of colleges have steel drums — and even full steel drum bands. Since I was trying to mimic a steel drum sound in the calypso anyway (I was using rolled marimba with hard mallets), I’m going to go ahead and give the option to use actual steel drums in that section. Also, although I’ve been hesitant to write that contrabass clarinet solo, assuming it would have to be played on contrabassoon instead, this group felt that a lot of groups would be more likely to have a contrabass clarinet than a contrabassoon. Even if they’re still relatively rare, I’m going to go ahead with the contrabass clarinet solo, and hope for the best.

It turns out that there’s a new beer in Europe, aimed at the gay market. Letterman just did a Top 10 list about it, and it was pretty hilarious. My favorite was actually #10. Check it out. (If the link doesn’t work yet, it should work within 12 hours or so from now — after the show has aired everywhere.)

Tomorrow, I’m off to San Antonio! I’m excited. More from the road…


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