Bonecerto premiere, and off to Midwest ’09

Last Friday night, Joe Alessi gave the premiere of my Trombone Concerto (now officially called “Harvest: Concerto for Trombone”) with the Ridgewood Concert Band in New Jersey. Reaction so far has been good (whew!), with Joe saying that he now plans to play it “all over the place.” (He also said, days after the performance, that he couldn’t get the tunes out of his head, which is probably the nicest compliment I could hear from him.) The piece is in a single 18-minute movement, broken into three connected sections that function essentially as traditional concerto movements (fast-slow-fast). There’s a big arrival point that happens in the first movement, and apparently the audience burst into applause at that moment — even though the piece still had 14 minutes to go, and the band was still playing. I haven’t experienced that since a performance of “Juba” with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, where the audience started clapping about 10 seconds before the end of the piece, and that was because of Robert Battle’s choreography and the incredible Ailey dancers. This time, it was all Alessi, who, by all accounts, played the hell out of the piece. I’m sorry I wasn’t there to see and hear it in person, but I’m excited to work with him on the piece (hopefully frequently!) in the future.

(Another funny thing was that when I talked to Alessi a few days before the premiere, he said the solo part really wasn’t too difficult. I was a little disappointed. I mean, yes, he’s possibly the best trombonist in the world, but I don’t want him to be bored and unchallenged by the concerto. When I talked to him after the premiere, though, he said, “rest assured, the solo part is plenty challenging enough.” Which means, I think, it’s probably unplayable by anybody else. This made me much happier.)

You can read the program note for the concerto here.

It’s been a crazy week here at the house, with the switching-over from Time Warner Cable with TiVo to AT&T Uverse (TiVo still has the best interface by far, but it’s become a hardware kludge with external drives, cable cards, a “tuning adapter,” and who knows what else, so when it started crashing, there was no easy way to figure out the culprit — but Uverse is fine so far), then a day soliciting bids to replace our furnace and air conditioner (the blower has been making a crazy shrieking noise since we bought the house, and it’s gotten much worse lately — not to mention the $408 electric bill we had in July), then a full day for the actual replacement of those units (so much money is gone, but you can barely hear the blower now, so I’m no longer woken up every 20 minutes when the thing cycles), then a day spent cooking Beef Burgundy (not Ron Burgundy) for dinner guests last night (it turned out mighty tasty). Today, there are lots of errands to do — fun stuff like picking up dry cleaning and packing up a dozen music orders — as I get ready to head to Chicago on Tuesday.

Tuesday is the start of the Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic. It’s always a good time, seeing friends and making some new ones. It’s the biggest band music convention in the world — I think something like 18,000 people attend every year — and there are concerts and clinics and most important, the bar at the Chicago Hilton. I’ve gotten a lot of work at that bar — invitations or performances, residencies, and even commissions have been initiated there. Plus, it’s a bar, and since they made Chicago smoke-free, it’s a pretty pleasant place to be.

I have two performances at Midwest — “Aurora Awakes” with the San Jose Wind Symphony on Friday at 5:30, and “Asphalt Cocktail” with the Central Winds on Saturday at 11:15am. Although I haven’t heard Central Winds yet, I heard a recording of San Jose playing Aurora Awakes, and it was great weeks ago, so I think that’s going to be a fantastic performance. I hope people come!

And, just because, here’s a picture of one of our new Christmas ornaments: disco nutcracker. (He isn’t actually labeled that way, but come on. Look at him. He’s disco nutcracker.)

See you in Chicago!


Robert D. Pore says

Any advice on self-promotion at Midwest for someone who doesn't drink? :)

Hope you have fun!

John says

Robert - you can still spend time at the bar, and just don't drink!

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