Lots Going On

One reason I wanted an academic job is that I had so many things going on in my former life, and it felt crazy. Now my activities have been centralized under one or two roofs, but they have grown until I have just as much going on as before. Herewith a report from midway through my second year on the job:

Recital. I’m playing one in just under two weeks. There will be three world premieres and a Wisconsin premiere. Two of the world premieres are pieces I wrote: a duo for horn and cello (my brother and I performed it at our uncle’s wedding, but it has never had a concert performance) and a horn solo piece I wrote last summer. The other world premiere is by my friend Jeff Scott, who plays in the Imani Winds and with whom I went to music school too many years ago. The Wisconsin premiere is a horn sonata I co-commissioned from a composer named Jim Stephenson. There are two other pieces on the concert, too, so I’ve had my hands full practicing.

Wisconsin Brass Quintet. That is my faculty chamber ensemble. We’re playing really hard music this semester, including a piece I wrote for the group this past summer.

Gretzler recital. Gretzler is the name of the electronica duo I formed with Mark Hetzler, the trombone professor at UW. We’ve been rehearsing, and I’ve been writing more of the tune I wrote for us, and I’m constantly upgrading my knowledge of the electronics we’re using.

Horn choir. Part of my job is to conduct the UW Horn Choir. I decided that this semester we would change our whole thrust, and become a rock band, with a name change to Twisted Metal. TM had its first session today. Normally, classical musicians are given printed music that they learn to play. I am insisting that TM work from nothing. Someone has to come up with a bass line, or a lick (a little piece of melody), or a little pattern, and then we all have to figure out what to do with it. We need to come up with about 45 minutes of music, which is a lot. Our first session today was very productive: we’ve got the basis of our first tune!

SoundWaves. That’s my science-meets-music series. Our next event is on March 1, and it’s about measurement. Specifically: what is an inch? An ounce? Who keeps track of these measures? Who keeps track of metric measures? How do you measure huge astronomical distances? How do you measure tiny nuclear-scale distances? Then, in music, how do musicians play in tune (in other words, how do they measure how high or low to play a note)? Announcement: the series just won a big grant for next year. Full steam ahead!

Other school commitments. Now I’m on lots of committees. I know you are supposed to hate that, but actually I really enjoy putting lots of smart people in a room together and figuring out something that’s hard to figure out alone.

Tae kwon do. Still have a white belt. That means nobody is allowed to hit me, which is good.

Skating. I used to love skating as a kid. There are lots of lakes here, and there’s lots of cold weather. That means great outdoor skating.

Being sick. Enough said.

Meridian Arts Ensemble. We just released our new CD, called Alchemy, which is mostly Renaissance music. I am very proud of this CD – it sounds good! I’m actually not really busy with this now, but I’m mentioning it in a conceited act of self-promotion.

Email. It never stops.

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3 Responses to Lots Going On

  1. I took a class in college called Philosophy of Math & Science or something like that, in which we discussed the nature of measurement. One of my absolute favorite classes.

    Not sure how you do all of the above with only 24 hours in a day.

  2. Ruth says:

    I love the concept of the transformation of the Brass Choir into Twisted Metal. I bet the students are having a ball with it. And along the way, they’re learning the improv techniques that form the basis of jazz. Wonderful stuff.

    As to Amy’s comment, I think that through your work with Sound Waves (congrats on the grant!), you’ve found some hole in the time/space continuum such that, while each day still has 24 hours, you are able to stretch each hour so that it is longer for you than for the rest of us. I’d like to learn that trick.

  3. Miriam Grabois says:

    Busy man.

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