Brass Band

Nice Day for a Drive

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Today was very long, but enjoyable or sure. I drove out to Sparta, NC, which is one mountain away from Mt. Pilot, about a three hour drive from home. North Carolina Symphony Kiddie show… easy work, pretty day for a drive, especially in the mountains. Six hours in the car wore me out, and I went to TYBE and rehearsed them, so it was a looooong day. I was on brass band duty tonight because Caldwell covered for me last night, as I had a Britten War requiem rehearsal in Durham.

I had fun doing the band rehearsal. I wish I could do that more with the brass ensemble, and get to know those kids more. I really like working with them. And kids in general, especially in the brass bands. My time just doesn’t allow it, and its important for Caldwell to do that band his way, and be what he wants it to be. He is doing a great job at it. I am happy that the brass ensemble is improving and getting stronger and should be a continuing group in the future.

Last night I filed my taxes. Man, I hate taxes. We NEED the fair Tax, and soon.

The rest of the week is jammed, so I am going to get some rest, as I think I got most everything off my plate for a day or so.

TYBB Tour

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This is a bit late, I know.  The disease infested teenagers of TYBB I was trapped on a bus with for 5 days won and I earned a nasty cold for all my work with this tour.  It hit me Saturday in Connecticut, but didn’t get too bad until we arrived home Monday evening.  Tuesday was the worst and I am still feeling it as of Thursday morning.  I am tired of this thing already.  I don’t really have time to be sick until summer.   I am in between naps, so…

The tour was a smash hit, in my opinion.  Thursday morning we left for Philadelphia. Other than the hotel seeming to be surprised when we got there, all went smoothly on the trip up.  We ate at a very crowded Golden Corral which for some reason did not comp our bus driver’s meal.  He was a little pissed, but is friends with the owners of the chain here in Raleigh, so he will get justice in the end I feel.  Next we went to see the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Kimmel Center.  Before the show, PO Principal Tubist Carol Jantsch came out and did a fast Q and A with the kids which was neat.  Brahms3 was on the first half.  I was late getting into the hall, so they sat me on the orchestra level.  I am not a big fan of Brahms 3.  The orchestra sounded wondeful, and I was most impressed with the contra bassoon blend with the cello and basses.  The third movement was very nice, but the conductor was bland and unclear creating some ensemble problems at times.  At intermission I moved uo to the nose bleeds wit the band for the second half… Selections form Gotterdamerung.  9 Horns, 3 trumpets, bass trumpet, 4 trombones and tuba.  Enough to keep brass heads happy.  Some ensemble issues caused by the conductor still, but great sound from the orchestra. Verizon Hall is a nice place to see an orchestra.  You can hear everything.  Only problem is it is too quiet.  Everything seems muffled and you get the sense you are not getting the true dynamics.  Great experience to hear this orchestra.  Carol sounds wonderful.

Friday we headed to CT.  It was raining and we couldn’t see anything as we drove across the GW Bridge into NYC.  Check in at the hotel was great… they were ready for us.  The rooms were awesome, and they put me in a huge room.  We headed to Avon HS for our concert, stopping at Boston Market for dinner.  I liked it… we should go there more.  Someone dropped the ball, and the band director there was not prepared at all for us.  There was a building supervisor there that saved the day for us… Casey.  He helped us with everything we needed.  This will get me off on a rant about Band Directors that I am going to skip right now… so we split this first concert with the Hartt School of Music Tuba Ensemble.  They did a nice job on their first performance ever.  We played the second half, for virtually nobody.  There were a few enthusiastic people, though.   I was OK, as we were a little rough that night after not playing at all on Thursday, and traveling a lot in two days.  It was good to blow the kinks out.

Saturday was a split concert with the Classic Brass in Willimantic, CT.  This town has a thing for frogs which is kind of weird.   This concert went very well, and everyone seemed to be impressed.  Classic Brass sounded nice, even though their conductor was out because of a funeral.  TYBB played much better than the previous night, and Ted’s tune was very well received.  Lots of compliments.  Took a while to find a place to eat, but we finally found a place after touring the town of Mystic, CT.  Jamm’s will never be the same.  Back to the hotel to watch the Carolina game… losers!!!

Sunday was the concert with the Coast Guard brass ensemble.  James Jackson laid out a nice spread of treats and snacks for us, and they treated the band really well.   We did a quick sound check and boom, showtime.  The crowd was nice, and very enthusiastic and the band sounded amazing.  We definitely hit our stride.  When we get to play together three days in a row, it gets really good.  Most memorable for me was the ending of Dundonnell.  We absolutely blew that place apart.  The Commander for the Coast Guard Band conducted Washington Grays which was neat.  Great audience reaction at this show.

Bus to Philly, then bus to Raleigh on Monday morning, tour over.  We played three concerts in three days, and got to experience what it is like to play a concert tour, where the only reason we were there was to play music.  James Jackson played a solo with us which we put together in short order and it came of very well each time.  James did a wonderful job helping to set up this tour, and we are eternally thankful to him.  It was very special for me to share this with him.  James an I go back a long way, and I respect him as much as any musician in the business.  He is a class act all the way.  Thank goodness we made it through the weekend without him telling any stories of the old days to the kids in TYBB.

The TYBB is an impressive group of kids.  As usual, we were complimented all weekend on their maturity, behavior, musicianship and sound.  Everywhere we went, we made a good impression.  It is my hope that the members got something positive out of this, and had a good time in the process.  I know I did, and I am paying for it now.

Doh, a Deer

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So, when I arrived home after rehearsal Tuesday night, there was a family of deer hanging out in my front yard, and they were huge.  They saw the headlights from my truck, and looked puzzled.  I beeped my horn to remind them that they don’t own the yard, and to move along, which they had no problem doing.  this is the second time I have encountered deer in Cary, in the yard.  I have no problem with it, it is just a little strange to see.  I like that my yard is a wild animal kingdom.  I even got video of two squirrels doin IT in the front yard.  It was hilarious.

The hotel we are staying at in PA would not take our check to pay for the rooms.  They would not take a credit card, either, without a ton of hassle.  Plan C has been enacted, but I was kind of looking forward to Plan D, which was to fill up a tuba case with $3,000 worth of pennies and pay for the rooms in CASH.  What a ridiculous run around this was this week.  I feel very bad for our treasurer who was awesome in helping to get this worked out.  Above and Beyond, Stan… Thank you.

The Triangle Youth Brass band goes on tour Thursday Morning.  it will be a wonderful time.  I will tell you all about it when I get back, or, maybe some while we are away.

Power

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Or lack there of.  TYBB had a tour rehearsal tonight that I had to cancel because the power was out at Salem MS.  This is not good.  We need to rehearse, and it will have adverse affects on our performance on tour.  I am really bummed that this opportunity was missed.  We don’t get second chances.  Instead, we have to cram Tuesday night and it wont be as relaxed or fun.  Shame.

NABBA 08

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The TYBE is on their way home from Louisville, KY right now.  They went there to play, watch, learn and bond.  Brass band trips are always a lot of fun, and I am a little bummed I did not make this trip.  With going on the TYBB trip this week, and the chance to play Carmina Burana, I felt I needed to stick around while they went.  It was an easier decision knowing that Jon Caldwell is so capable.  He does a really good job with that group.  I just like going to NABBA and hearing all of the great brass bands play.  I missed it.

The TYBE, by all accounts, did a really good job.  That group is growing fast, and making a nice reputation for itself, and I could not be prouder.  The trip ran smoothly, which tends to be the norm.  I look forward to seeing them all when they get back.  I will meet the bus when it arrives.

Good News- Triangle Brass Band

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I have been involved with the TBB ever since I moved to North Carolina in 1999. I played in the band for three years, and I have been directing the youth band for eight years. The Music Director for TBB is moving to Maryland and stepped down, opening that position. The band did a search and I won the search, so starting in August, I will take over as Music Director of the Triangle Brass Band.

When I applied in November, I gave myself about a 1% chance of winning the job, based on the level of talent they had auditioning. They had several really good choices available to them. I went through an interview, then an audition. The interview went pretty well. If was pretty much as I expected it to be, a lot of visionary type questions. I was happy to be invited to audition, and I ended up slotting as the last one to audition. We were given two selections to conduct and rehearse with the band, and an entire Wednesday evening rehearsal to do it. The first selection was Edward Gregson’s Plantagenets, beginning up to rehearsal number 5. We also were to select a tune from this list: Amazing Grace, Nimrod, Colonial Song. I selected Amazing Grace. After the first two candidates auditioned, I was given a score to the rest of Plantagenets and asked to rehearse from there.

The actual audition was last Wednesday and went really well. My plan was to just simply do what I do with a brass band. I listened to Plantagenets on my iPod a lot, and looked over the score to come up with a plan of attack. I started off the rehearsal with my tuning and choral routine, working on listening, balance, tuning and ensemble playing. I did not get too deep into this, but just enough, I thought, for the band to see that I will be working on that element, and how I do it. Then I started at the end of Plantagenets and worked backwards. I did a bit of balance and ensemble things in the music, as well as bringing out important lines. We picked apart the conclusion of the tune for about 45 minutes, and it was fast paced and detailed. There were times when I felt I was asking them to do thing they were not used to doing, mostly dynamically. I thought they adjusted fairly well.

Next, I hit a few pots in Amazing Grace. This is a tune the band plays a hundred times a year. I put a little different spin on the end of it, and then we ran it. No problems there. Next came a question and answer session with the band. I felt I answered their questions well. There was a wide variety of things, some general, and some specific to the band. I explained my vision for the band, and some goals to reach. I made sure to let them know that I can put TBB in a high place on my list of priorities and that I was not really interested in fast, drastic changes that might quickly upset the general order of the band.

Now, why did I win the job? I feel certain that two main things contributed highly to this. One was that I can make TBB a priority and they wanted to see me work for them. The other, was that they saw the growth and quality of the youth bands, and many just decided they wanted that for them. My audition was eight years long, in a manner of speaking. Even six months ago, I don’t think anyone envisioned that I would be the next MD, including me. I certainly did not get here by using the youth bands as a place for advancement. This fell in my lap, surprisingly. I really didn’t think I had a chance to win it until I finished my audition. The band seemed to respond well to what I was doing and it was a positive experience all around. I was very encouraged.

This may or may not be why, but it is what I think made the most contribution to their decision. I look forward to making the Triangle Brass Band, and it’s umbrellaed youth bands , the premiere organization of its kind in the US.