Home Sweet Home

I’m back from Chicago. It was a fun and worthwhile trip. I left with two new commissions!

One is from the SEC conference, and I’m truly excited about this. The consortium has commissioned a 10-minute piece, to be completed in Fall 2005. What to do?! I don’t need to worry about it yet — as I have two other commissions to finish first — but I’m so excited that it’s hard not to start thinking about it.

The other commission is for an “easier” piece, or, in band lingo, “Grade 4.”

(Band music is categorized by difficulty levels referred to as “grades,” ranging from 1-6. A “Grade 1” piece is extremely easy, and intended for musicians who are just learning their instruments. “Grade 3” is fairly easy, and intended for a fairly good middle school or moderate-level high school. “Grade 6” is the top level, and generally playable by only the best-of-the-best ensembles. “Redline Tango” is a Grade 6 piece.)

As I was saying… I’ll be writing a Grade 4 piece. This commission comes from my high school friend, Josh Thompson, who now has a high school band in Illinois. I ran into him at the Midwest conference last year, and we’ve been in touch ever since. He e-mailed me at one point over the summer, asking about the logistics of commissioning a piece. After I replied to him with a price quote, I didn’t hear from him again. (This happens fairly often.) When I saw him last week, though, he said he was definitely interested, and we talked about what kind of piece I’d write for him. When I saw him later that day, he had already found a few other directors who wanted to join his consortium. By the next morning, he had even more! He’s moving along, and it looks like it’s actually going to happen. This will be a fun project, as Josh and I have known each other for many years, but this will be our first time working together. Also, it’ll be a fun challenge to write a piece that isn’t nearly impossible to play.

Midwest was a lot of fun. I met a lot of great people — from the UConn posse to the gang at UT Austin to my new buddies at Northwestern and on and on — and also learned something about myself. Something deep? No. You know how people say, “I’m too old now to go out drinking until all hours of the night.” I wondered when I would reach that age. Well, I learned a few days ago that I have, in fact, reached That Age. No more drinking cheap wine until the middle of the night. No sir. I can’t do it anymore. My partying days — so briefly enjoyed — are now officially behind me. When somebody approaches you the next morning and asks, “Do you remember me from last night?” — and you don’t — well, it’s time to slow down.

Chicago was fun, but it’s good to be home in New York. Last night, AEJ and I rearranged some furniture to make room for a Christmas tree. This afternoon, we’ll head out and pick out our tree. This will be Loki (our cat)’s first Christmas tree. Loki’s a little crazy (a product of a little too much inbreeding), and we’re a little worried that he’s going to pull the tree down. Wish us luck.


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