March 5, 2006
Strange Humors: The Premiere and More
I flew from Nashville to Dallas last Sunday, February 26th. I rented a car at the airport and drove about 90 minutes to Waco, Texas, where Baylor University is located. Upon my arrival in Texas, I was starving, and craving my favorite Mexican chain restaurant — Taco Cabana. I first discovered the Cabana back in 2001 when I was working at the Dallas Theater Center, doing music for Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. I make a point to eat there whenever I’m back in Dallas. This time around, though, it was a little disappointing. I’m going to chalk this one up to poor staffing (it took 20 minutes to receive two tacos), but really, Taco Cabana — even your die hard fans won’t put up with sub-par tacos for long. You can’t rest on your delicious queso laurels forever.
Arrived safely in Waco, and headed to dinner with Kevin Sedatole (the conductor of the Baylor Wind Ensemble — and soon-to-be conductor at Michigan State) and Colin McKenzie. I had this tasty coconut shrimp with a very pretty sauce.
Here’s another shot with Kevin in the background — just to prove that I really wasn’t eating alone.
At rehearsal, I saw this cool authentic African drum that Moses, the bass drum player, was planning to use for the bass tone part of “Strange Humors.” (We ended up using a concert bass drum instead, as this drum — even as cool as it looked — didn’t sound deep enough.)
Rehearsal was great. We tweaked a few things — to fix mistakes I’d made — and everybody was a joy to work with and extremely accommodating. After rehearsal, a bunch of us headed to the local hangout for food and beer. Here’s a picture of my unbelievably delicious banana pudding — with my friend Samantha in the background. (Sam plays principal trombone at Baylor — and she rocks.)
The next morning, I awoke at my hotel in Waco to admire the view from my room. IHOP has never been so photogenic.
After a drive to Richardson (where the ABA convention was to be held), we had another rehearsal. Here are Moses (bass drum) and Joel (djembe), trying to pose for an action shot. Can you tell they’re just posing?
After rehearsal, Baylor took a bunch of us out to the most amazing dinner at Chamberlain’s Steakhouse. Here’s one of the shrimp from my shrimp cocktail.
Next I had this fantastic sweet cream corn soup.
Baylor was paying, so I went a little nuts and ordered Kobe steak. Here it is, being sliced for me at the table. (It was a little “total care” having my food cut for me, but it felt luxurious.)
Here’s the entree: garlic mashed potatoes and the Kobe steak. Holy DAMN this was delicious. Maybe the best steak I’ve ever had. (Is it weird that I went to Texas and ordered Japanese steak?)
Here’s the dinner group — from left to right, Dick Floyd (who would be conducing the premiere of “Strange Humors” the next evening), Matthew Morris (who would play the bassoon solo in the Weber Andante e Rondo Ungarese), Kevin Sedatole, Christopher Bianco (Assistant Director of Bands at Baylor, who had prepared “Strange Humors” prior to Dick Floyd’s arrival), and Barry Kraus (Associate Director of Bands at Baylor).
The next morning, Dick Floyd rehearsed the band in the hall in Richardson.
The performance was smokin’. Please check out the recording on the Strange Humors page. Dick Floyd gave an exciting, groovin’ performance. Here I am with Juan Flores, who played the English horn solo at the beginning of the piece.
And here I am with Dick Floyd, post-performance.
Here’s Joel May, djembe soloist in Strange Humors.
After the concert we had a light bite to eat at the hotel bar. AEJ (who had finally arrived that evening!) had this tasty mozzarella and tomato salad.
Here I am with Frank Ticheli, whose new work, “Sanctuary,” had received a performance that evening. (Frank conducted his own piece, “Vesuvius,” on another concert during the convention.) Frank and his wife are a lot of fun.
On Thursday, AEJ and I went with Rick Clary and his wife to the new sculpture garden in Dallas. Here’s one of my favorite sculptures — “Walking to the Sky” by Jonathan Borofsky. From the museum’s brochure: “The sculpture was originally inspired by a story Borofsky’s father told him as a child about a friendly giant who lived in the sky. During each tale, father and son would imagine walking into the sky to discuss with the giant what should be done to help everyone on earth. Soaring 100 feet into the air at a 75-degree angle, this sculpture features seven life-size figures walking briskly up the pole, while three more on the ground watch their ascent.” So, yes, the guy in the yellow sweater — and the child next to him — are artificial. To see this thing is person was pretty stunning, as it just goes up and up and up.
That evening, there was this completely random quartet of women playing synthesizers in the hotel lobby. Their musical selections included — I kid you not — “The Baby Elephant Walk,” the “Theme from the Pink Panther,” “Moon River,” and “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow.” (It was AEJ who knew that last part, by the way.)
On Friday morning, AEJ and I headed to Lucky’s Cafe, another of my favorite places in Dallas. They have great food — fantastic breakfast, and perfect southern biscuits. We were too late for breakfast, but we had a tasty lunch. I had chicken fried chicken. Have you ever seen any gravy?
That night, the Dallas Wind Symphony performed “Redline Tango,” with Gary Hill conducting, and I was awarded the 2005 ABA/Ostwald Award.
It was, to put it mildly, an absolutely amazing week. I’m really excited about “Strange Humors“, and I hope it’ll have a future. If nothing else, the recording of the premiere is great.
And I tell you — after 5 hotels in about 18 days, it sure is nice to be back home.