Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Time-lapsed Blogography Day: 19 Years Ago Today

Nineteen years ago today, on May 1, 2000, I performed my final project in Conducting class: a live performance of a piece of my choosing. My orchestra consisted of the other students in the class, a horrible permutation of 1 flute, 1 clarinet, 1 violin, 2 alto saxophones, 4 trumpets, 1 horn, 1 trombone, 1 tuba, 1 piano, and 2 percussionists. Because I couldn't possibly do anything the easy way, I chose to treat my final project as both a conducting and a composing assignment. I arranged one of my 1997 concert band pieces, The King's Entourage, for this cancerous orchestration.

Unlike some conductors who scribble all over their scores as if to fix the composition's intrinsic flaws, my conducting scores were always very sparse. All notes were relegated to the top line of the score and consisted mostly of cue reminders so I knew who to look at. As I practiced and became more comfortable, I would erase notes and rely more on memory.

I got an A on the final project. Afterwards, Professor Glazebrook pulled me aside and said it was the best project he'd ever seen done, exactly the way he wanted. Of my unique pairing of alto saxophone and violin for the melody, he said "it was not as awful a sound as I would have expected". (Based on this high praise, I would go on to compose my Master's thesis using alto saxophone and violin more than allowed by Geneva Conventions).

I still have my conducting textbook, notated examples, and conducting baton on my shelf, although I have not conducted an ensemble since undergrad. I had to confiscate the baton once Maia started chewing on it.

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