September 27, 2007
Michigan State Welcomes You
It’s kind of silly how much was squeezed into my 3 days at Michigan State, and it’ll be even sillier to try to summarize it without producing a photo novella (as opposed to a telenovela), but let’s see how we do. Where to start? Why not start with packing?
I recently discovered H&M, the insanely cheap but hip Swedish clothing chain. (Think the Ikea of clothes.) AEJ and I checked out the Beverly Center store a few weeks ago, and I spent less on 10 shirts than I’d spent on one the day before at a somewhat more snooty-toots store. I also bought a newly essential (and so lame that it’s cool) travel tool at H&M: socks, labeled with each day of the week! Now I just need to pull out a pair for each day I’ll be away, then complete each outfit! Think of the time savings — and organizational benefits!
I packed, slept, and got up at (if I remember correctly) 4am in order to catch my 7am flight. The flight wasn’t so bad. I split the time between sleeping (a shout-out to Xanax), watching season 1 of “Arrested Development” on the iPhone (first time watching video on it — pretty nice! — and I love that show, RIP), and listening to tunes on the new 160 GB iPod Classic. (They seem to have changed the sound codec in it in this generation, and the sound is… different. Definitely not as good, and that was obvious even on an airplane, at least using Shure earphones. The difference is much less noticeable with other less-fancy-pants headphones.)
Upon my arrival at MSU (thanks for the ride, Doug), I checked into my room, then met up with Kevin Sedatole (the Director of Bands at MSU) and a few of his students for dinner. As per usual on these trips, the appetizer was a Dirty Goose.
Dinner was great, and included this fried tuna roll. (It wouldn’t be the only fried sushi I’d have that weekend, as you’ll see.) Sorry for the bad framing…
After dinner, we had to have dessert, right? I always love the presentation of the dessert tray.
I went with one of my favorite desserts : carrot cake.
The next morning, Kevin picked me up for the conductors’ seminar — which started at 10am. Eastern. That’s, like, 7am Pacific — and I don’t get up at 7am Pacific. Needless to say, coffee was in order (or, more specifically, a triple-shot cinnamon dolce latte).
Here, by the way, from left to right, is Kevin Sedatole, John T. Madden (MSU’s marching band director), and Isaiah Odajima (MSU’s assistant director of bands). Great guys.
There were two rehearsals that afternoon — and they were pretty fantastic. MSU has an awesome wind symphony. William Staub, one of Kevin’s students (and a former student of Gary Hill, whom I’ve raved about here in the past), conducted “Turning,” and I loved what he did with the piece. Pacing, dynamic control, and emotional impact were maybe the best I’ve heard. It’s a terribly difficult piece — and it’s sometimes difficult for me to listen to — but William nailed it.
Between rehearsals, I checked out the MSU marching band. They were rehearsing their James Bond show, which they were going to perform the next day at the Notre Dame game. The show was great (and it seemed to help team with the win the next day).
The rehearsal that evening was even better than in the afternoon. I love what Kevin does with “Redline Tango,” and Laura McLaughlin on Eb clarinet may have been the best player I’ve ever heard on the part — and that counts performances with the Dallas Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra. She was Krazy with Klezmer, if I may say so. After rehearsal, it was time to eat again. And what better to eat in the middle of Michigan than… sushi! We went to Sansu.
That was Isaiah’s sashimi. I decided that what would be more midwest-appropriate is if I ordered all of my sushi deep fried. I give you: deep fried eel and avocado roll, and on the right, something called the “Maki Maki” (not Mackey-Mackey) — spicy tuna, avocado, wasabi mayo, spicy mayo, and eel sauce, all deep fried. What I can’t convey is the truly massive size of these rolls — more Texas-size than midwest-size. You’d need to blow this picture up on a 30″ monitor to get the actual scale. It was mighty yummy — if a bit filling for sushi.
The next day was a free day, so I started it with… food! Joseph Lulloff, the sax teacher at MSU, picked me up and took me to breakfast at a great diner called Jukebox Grill. Yeah, after eating fried sushi the night before, I decided to go lighter for breakfast — so I had hash browns with sausage, onions, peppers, and cheese.
Oh, and a side of cinnamon chip French toast.
Joe had an omelet with broccoli and chili in it — and plenty of ketchup.
After brunch, Joe took me by his place to hang out a bit. In front of his house was this scary bug.
Joe has a beautiful house, and a stunning music room with loads of windows. It would be a great place to work; I was jealous. Joe also has this hand-crafted game table that he commissioned, carved and painted with music that he loves from all different styles.
In the center of the table is a chess board with handmade chess pieces. One side is the jazz musicians…
… and the other is the classical musicians.
It was a great afternoon. Joe showed me some cool sax tricks, which I kind of wish I’d known when I was writing my concerto. I don’t know, though; there may not be too many players who can do what Joe can do. (You’ve never heard sax altissimo like this.)
That night, I headed with the sax studio to Frankenmuth, Michigan, for Octoberfest — and a visit to Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. That, though, will have to wait until tomorrow. Let’s just say, Ho, ho, ho…