Thursday, December 27, 2012

Midwest Wrap Up

As I sit sipping coffee at the Corner Bakery down the street from my hotel, waiting for my wife to arrive to Chicago for the rest of the weekend, I have some time to sit and reflect about Midwest. Recently, a colleague had asked me to start blogging again. Jes even mentioned it when I mentioned that I had a few free hours here. Finding a place to jump back in, especially after taking a new post in a new state, had been difficult. This does seem like the perfect situation. I apologize in advance for my return post being a “stream of conscious”

I hadn’t been to the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic since before grad school. I basically went to meet with a few professors in hopes of finding a mentor for grad school and I wasn’t able to through the conference. Some of the people I met seemed completely uninterested in music, but were more focused on looking through me, desperate to find someone to talk that held more stature than I. I don’t think I had a full understanding of what Midwest was about until I learned from Dr. Booth. I wish he would’ve been here, to share this with all week.

I went to a few clinics that were worth a listen, but the best experiences were hearing students perform great music! High school kids (word at 720 South was that the MS kids were killing it too) that were passionate about music, collaboration and performing. Teachers that were passionate about teaching and that had found a way to get their school and community to value art. Now, that’s inspiring!

I went to hear Owasso’s Wind Ensemble, thinking I would discover something I’d like to program for my band. I made it a personal mission at this conference to listen to new things so I can keep expanding my love for the repertoire. You never know where the perfect piece will reveal itself to you, right? What I discovered was passion for music making. This experience was repeated by The Woodlands and Marcus. I guess Midwest South is dominating!

The only thing that surpassed these experiences musically, was Leonard Slatkin conducting the Lonestar Wind Orchestra. I mean the Pines of Rome with 30 or so additional  antiphonal brass players!?! It was inspiring.

There were some good non-performance moments too. I listened to Frank Battisti have a casual interview with Dr. Tim. I felt like part of history. Battisti, at age 82, has more life in him when talking about music than anyone I've ever seen. I heard the stories of the Ithaca HS Band. The room was packed as we hung on his ever word and laughed with him. It was great to experience that with one of my mentors, Shelley Jagow. Truly a once in a lifetime event. I'm so glad Dr. Booth had made sure I had taken "with-it-ness 101" during grad school.

As I sat back to write this, I had a wonderful interruption. One of my friends and colleagues, maybe the person in the field I've known the longest, Justin Davis happened to walk by the window. I was so glad he recognized me and came in to chat. We talked for a few hours. It was the most musically in-depth conversation I had the whole week. I was very thankful for the talk and the rekindling of a friendship.

The conference was all about thanking our mentors which means I owe some people some emails and calls. What a great career it's been so far, I can't wait to see what's in store in 2013.

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