April 27, 2006
UCLA and Midwest news
A little news… I found out last night that Ray Cramer — Director of Bands Emeritus at Indiana University, and President of the Midwest Clinic — will conduct the Midwest Clinic premiere of “Turbine” this December with the Musashino Academy of Music Wind Ensemble. Mr. Cramer is on his way to Japan this weekend to prepare that same wind ensemble for an upcoming performance of “Sasparilla” in Tokyo. Those kids are going to be sick of me by the time Midwest rolls around in December. In all seriousness, I couldn’t be more excited about the performance of “Turbine.” I’m sure the group will be fantastic, and I’m honored that Mr. Cramer wants to program it.
I had a great visit at UCLA yesterday afternoon. After a fairly traffic-free drive to Westwood, I parked and headed through campus…
… and into the music building, named after, that’s right, the TuneSmith himself, Arnold Schoenberg. (Schoenberg was a member of the music department from 1936 until 1944 — when he wrote some of his greatest “hits.”)
Once there, I met up with Gordon Henderson, Associate Director of Bands at UCLA, and conductor of the upcoming wind ensemble concert. (Thomas Lee, the UCLA Director of Bands, is on sabbatical, hopefully sunning and funning somewhere exotic.) Gordon and I headed across the street to have lunch at the Faculty Center with Ian Krouse, composer and Chair of the department.
Lunch was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed talking shop with Gordon and Ian. I really want to hear some of Ian’s music. For lunch, I had a wasabi tuna salad sandwich.
Gordon was nice enough to give me a little tour of UCLA’s gamelan room. UCLA has a major ethnomusicology department, but even knowing that, I was pretty surprised by the size of their gamelan setup.
Here’s a collection of gongs for the ensemble.
And those two pictures probably only show about half of what that room housed. I wish I could have heard it!
The rehearsal with the group was a lot of fun. I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived, as their concert is still about a month away, and I never hear rehearsals of “Redline Tango” this early in the rehearsal process. Wow, though, they’re an incredibly strong group. The Eb clarinet player (lower-right) was especially a standout. It was funny because when I heard her start playing, I looked up from the score, thinking, wow, this sounds incredible — vulgar, raw, perfectly stylized — this player is rocking! And then, when I looked up at her, she looked like this was old news to her. I expected her to be flailing all over the place physically, but nope, she looked so controlled — but sounded all crazy and wild. I got a real kick out of her. Turns out she’d never even played klezmer before. Great player.
The whole ensemble was great. There wasn’t all that much for me to say. I can only imagine how great they’ll sound by the time of the concert, considering they were 95% ready to perform it yesterday!
Here’s another shot of the band. (Those markings in my score are not my own. Somebody returned the score to me like that, and I kept the markings in to make it look like I actually understood the beat patterns.)
And here’s a shot of the student conductors, fixated on the Redline Tango score. I swear, this photo wasn’t staged. They really are that interested in Redline Tango. Really. That’s how dedicated they are to their craft. (Okay, I’m lying.)
So, a great afternoon at UCLA. I wish I could be there for their performance on May 24, but I’ll be on my way to New York for Bob Reynolds’ performance of the work with the National Wind Ensemble. If you live in LA, though, I encourage you to check out the UCLA performance. They’re going to give a great concert. I’ll be heading back to campus in a few weeks to work with them one more time. I’m sure it’ll be a blast, once again.
Tomorrow night: dinner with my friend Sarah, visiting from Houston. So the question is, do AEJ and I take her out to dinner, or cook out on the deck?