TMEA : Year 2

San Antonio was great. Here’s how it went down…

I arrived there on Wednesday afternoon, just in time for rehearsal of “Redline Tango” with the Texas A&M Kingsville band, conducted by Fred Velez. Wow, what a nice group — and they play really, really well. I worked with them for about an hour coaching the piece, and I had a blast. I hope they did, too!

Here, from left to right, is Joseph Spaniola, composer of Escapade, which opened the concert; Fred Velez; and, well, some dork.

After rehearsal, I met up with Mr. East Texas himself, Danny Prado. We started the evening, as expected, with a few beers at the hotel bar.

Then it was off to Johnnie’s (I think that’s how it was spelled), a fantastic authentic Mexican place in San Antonio. Danny and I ate there last year, too, and it was great goin’ back. I had a massive plate of food for $5.95. Here’s a shot, not of the food, for a change (Mexican food isn’t especially photogenic), but of Danny and our other dinner companion, Bob Parsons. Good times. (Note the empty beer mugs. Sensing a trend in my time in San Antonio?)

The next afternoon, A&M Kingsville performed “Redline Tango.” Holy crap, it was really, really good. The rehearsal had gone well and all, but when concert time came, they kicked ass.

After the concert, Rick Clary and I got a lite bite. I had a bowl of tortilla soup. (It was San Antonio, after all.)

The soup wasn’t too filling — and that’s why I chose it: to save room for dinner out with Jeff Gershman, the conductor at Texas A&M Commerce. (You’d think that all schools in Texas were A&Ms, but I swear they’re not.) I’m going to A&M Commerce in late April to work with Jeff and his group. I’m psyched. Here we all are at dinner, along with Sparky, our waitress (on my right), and Sparky’s friend on the left. Jeff (the “other Jeff” — Jeff Boeckman) is the guy on the very far left — another conductor at A&M Commerce — and don’t take that expression on his face to mean that us guys were up to no good. It was all Boeckman.

After dinner, I tried to convince the Jeffs to join me for a night out on the San Antonio Riverwalk, but they declined, so I met up with my buddy and fellow composer Daniel Montoya and his girlfriend Sarah. I met lots of really nice people that evening, including several students at Baylor — the school that will premiere “Strange Humors” next week. (A trombone shout-out to Sam.) I tell you — band is a small, small world.

The next day, I had a most unfortunate lunch at A&W. Meet my hot dog.

There were many hours of “Sasparilla” rehearsals with Rick Clary and the 5A Concert Band. Here’s one of the shots.

And here are some of the many players in my favorite section — the TROMBONES! Yeah. I loves me lots of trombone.

Rick managed to wrangle (so to speak) an accordion player for the performance. Here’s a photo, just to prove it.

This guy — James Jetton — was one HELL of a contrabassoon player. We were really lucky to have him. (Sasparilla has a long, slow contrabassoon solo.)

The concert was great, as expected. Here are Rick and I, post-concert.

Carter Pann, composer of the amazing “Slalom,” performed by the 5A Symphonic Band, was nice enough to come to my concert and take my picture.

Here are Allan McMurray, conductor of the 5A Symphonic Band; Steve Andre, the TMEA band Vice-President (and soon to be President), the man who somehow keeps the band portion of the convention running smoothly; and Carter Pann.

There was a wonderful dinner after the concert, just like last year. Here’s a shot of the excellent seafood cakes. (Sorry, AEJ — you couldn’t have eaten these, but they sure were good. Since I couldn’t see you anyway, I decided to drown my sorrows in seafood.)

And… dessert. I had this crazy stacked brownie / ice cream thing.

So, two great performances, lots of new friends, and too much tasty food. Here I thought the week couldn’t have been better, and then I found these balloons!

Then I was off to Lexington, Kentucky. You may know that I hate flying (my new piece, “Turbine,” which is premiering this week — to be performed by the band at University of Kentucky — is about my fear of flying), so it wasn’t too happy of a morning when, at the airport in Dallas, we had to taxi out to some unknown, desolate part of the tarmac so the plane could be de-iced.

That shot is of the plane next to my plane. Here’s a shot taken from my seat, as they de-iced my plane.

Yeah, doesn’t that totally put you at ease?! I started thinking, Hey, isn’t that stuff just going to freeze again, killing us during take-off? Then I saw that most of the fluid was pinkish, and that made me feel much better.

The flight was fine, of course, and now I’m here in Lexington. I heard the band rehearse “Turbine” for the first time this afternoon, and — well, I’m not going to write about that yet. One story at a time!


Cathy says

Oh my - what an adventure! I didn't know Carter Pann was there! Slalom was performed at the same Baylor concert that Strange Humors was performed at. I could have met two incredible composers in one convention!!

Call me when you're in Waco!

Jonas says

if you gon tell me that the A&W aint the spot for the best hot dogs you can get the “F” on dawg

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