In spring 2014, I continued my DMA studies in wind conducting at Arizona State University. I studied primarily with Gary Hill and Wayne Bailey, but I also worked with Timothy Russell, William Reber, and David Schildkret. I was involved with the bands plus a lot of other very interesting projects!
The semester started with the combined forces of ASU’s Wind Orchestra and about half of the Wind Ensemble going to the Arizona Music Educators Association conference on January 31. They played Percy Grainger’s Lincolnshire Posy under the direction of Gary Hill to an audience of band directors and music teachers from around the state.
2 days later on February 2, Serena Weren had her doctoral conducting recital, which included the Stravinsky Octet and the Octandre of Edgard Varèse.
10 days later, Serena and I and the orchestral conducting TAs conducted the Concert of Soloists, featuring the winners of the ASU School of Music’s Concerto Competition with full orchestra/band:
Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra – Henri Tomasi, conducted by me, featuring the amazing Kristi Hanno on clarinet
Concertino for Tuba and Wind Orchestra – Rolf Wilhelm, conducted by Serena Weren
The Concert Band, under my direction, had its first concert on March 1. The original plan was to play outdoors and call the concert “A Sunny Afternoon”, not an unreasonable assumption in the desert. However, Mother Nature was not pleased with my concert-planning hubris, and it rained torrentially that day, the first rainfall of 2014 in the Phoenix area. So we moved the concert indoors to Gammage 301 and called it “Rain or Shine”. We had a wonderful turnout, and played spectacularly well. The repertoire was:
The Wind Ensemble (under Wayne Bailey) and Wind Orchestra (under Gary Hill) together presented “Under the Influence” on March 4, featuring music influenced by other music. Selections included:
If Thou Be Near – Johann Sebastian Bach
Impercynations – Steven Bryant, conducted by me
Variants on a Medieval Tune – Norman Dello Joio, conducted by Serena Weren
On March 15, Gary Hill conducted Mozart’s Gran Partita KV 361 (370a) at the CBDNA West/Northwest conference in Reno with an ASU chamber ensemble made up of studio faculty and top students. It was very warmly received, even getting a commendation from distinguished music historian Richard Taruskin, who was an honored guest at the conference.
The weekend of April 10-12 ASU played host to the Arizona All-State festival. UMKC director of bands Steve Davis conducted the All-State band in Vincent Persichetti’s Symphony no. 6 and other works.
On April 17, the Wind Orchestra hosted special guests John Mackey, Steven Bryant, and Joe Alessi. They were in residence for several days, attending rehearsals and other special events. Mr. Alessi did a trombone masterclass for the ASU players. Bryant and Mackey were joined by Michael Markowski for a question and answer session with the ASU composition studio. Bryant and Mackey also joined Gary Hill in an interview with KBAQ classical music radio. All of this was buildup for “Carnival V: Concertos”, featuring two massive and wonderful pieces:
On April 22, the Wind Ensemble (under Wayne Bailey) and Concert Band (under me) presented “Wet Ink”, featuring new wind band music written since 2010. In preparation for this, the Wind Ensemble got to work with John Mackey, and the Concert Band with both Michael Markowski and Chris Lamb, who wrote a new piece especially for us. The repertoire:
Xerxes – John Mackey, conducted by me
All in all, it was a great semester filled with music spanning over 200 years. This DMA experience has NOT disappointed!