May 6, 2008
Midwest: another rant
Let me preface this by saying that I love attending the Midwest Clinic every December in Chicago. It’s a huge gathering of over 15,000 music educators spending five days attending concerts by some of the best middle school and high school bands in the country — and usually at least one unbelievable performance by a non-American band, often from Japan. Last year featured the band from Michigan State University, conducted by Kevin Sedatole, giving what, by many accounts, was probably the best concert ever heard at Midwest. The year before, Jerry Junkin conducted the Dallas Wind Symphony at Midwest. I’ve had great performances at Midwest, and I’ve consumed incredible quantities of spirits post-concert. I plan to attend every year for the foreseeable future, largely because it’s an opportunity to see friends. (You can read about last year’s Midwest Clinic in this entry.)
The other element, besides concerts (and cocktails), is the clinics themselves. This year, the American Composers Forum had the idea of presenting a very cool clinic at Midwest. The proposal was to have composers and conductors talk about the process of commissioning, working with composers, incorporating composition into the classroom — interesting stuff like that. The panel was to include Craig Kirchoff (Director of Bands at U. Minnesota, and series advisor of the Boosey and Hawkes “Windependence” series), composer Michael Colgrass (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music, and composer of some of the great band literature including Winds of Nagual), composer Frank Ticheli (perhaps the most performed American band composer), and me (hack). Doesn’t that sound great? Good lord — Ticheli and Colgrass on a panel together?! I would attend that even if they’d have the sense to leave me off the panel! Hundreds of people would go to that clinic. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see such a panel?
The Midwest Clinic. They nixed the clinic proposal.
So if you attend the Midwest clinic this year, and you wonder why you’re instead attending clinics like “The Euphonium is Not a Cello!,” “One, Two, Three, Four, We Declare a Rhythm War: Why Mixed-Meters are Bad for Marching,” or “Mustache Maintenance: The Cutting Edge for Today’s Band Director,” you’ll know why.
(What? Me, bitter? And don’t even get me started on their policies regarding programming restrictions…)