Lunch with Demondrae

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Last week was pretty insane. The Triangle Brass Band hosted Euphonium virtuoso Demondrae Thurman for a few days to solo with the band.  I acted as his tour guide and here is the run down for the week.  (from here on out, Demondrae will be referred to as D)  D arrived Wednesday morning and after we got him settled at the crib de Tony, headed off to NCCU for a clinic.  D gave a one hour talk to the brass students and a few stragglers.  D answered some questions and chatted with my students there for a while.  Wednesday evening we had a quick rehearsal with TBB, then went out for dinner.  D wanted to to chill at home and learn to play xbox football, which we did.

Thursday had us up to UNC-CH for a clinic with Mike Kris’s studio.  Several students played solos and a quartet played.  After lunch, we trucked it out to ECU and roughly the same thing went down.  Several students and a quartet played for him.  The amazing thing for the day, was that D was able to pick different concepts to address with every student, and did not repeat any at all.  He heard 16 students in one day, and not once did he harp on one concept.  There were a couple that he made significant fixes to immediately with approaches that were very slight and difficult to analyze.  D is a master teacher.

Friday saw us visit a HS, and he worked with the band for a class period and was amazing, yet again.  TBB rehearsal was in the evening and then a hang afterwards.  Saturday we had lunch with Joh Illika which was very good, and we chilled before the concert in the evening.

The concert Saturday evening went very well.  The audience was a decent size and very enthusiastic, and the TBB was in top form.  We were fairly prepared for this performance and we produced a polished product that was enjoyable to listen to.  I think I picked music that was fun to hear as well.  I am certain that I picked music that showcased our soloist in the best light possible.  I have seen D perform before, and he has the magic touch with his euphonium and an audience.  The Concerto we played is a major work, almost 20 minutes long, and D slammed it out of the park.  The band handled it well, too, as the accompaniment part was rather difficult.  The Other solo went even better, and we killed it, both ban and soloist.  It was so exciting to be in the moment making music happen on the stage.  The encore, D played the piccolo solo on Stars and Stripes (up an octave on the Grandioso) and that concluded a great concert.  D sold a lot of his solo cd’s at the concert which is a good indication that he connected to the audience.

This was my first big concert event as music director for the TBB, and I am so happy it went so well.  I am not amazed that it went so well, but I was not positive it would.  The concert was the first time the whole band was there.  Not one rehearsal had a full band in attendance.  This can make things scary for me.  The week with D here was awesome.  I feel like I grew a lot as a musician, and that another project can be taken off the board as a success.

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