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Lush Cellos, Calm Beaches, Trashy Hotels, and Epic Endings - MY 2019 TOUR

This past February, I had the awesome privilege of working with several distinguished ensembles around the country as both composer and conductor.

The fun started at Kennesaw State University, where I had the opportunity to work once again with Dr. David Kehler’s fantastic group. They performed a la Machaut as well as a newer work of mine for cello and chamber wind ensemble Toward the Hour Arises First Light., a work based on the first twilight of the morning. It was a great opportunity for me to work with cellist-in-residence Charae Krueger and the amazing kids in this ensemble... oh and eat some AMAZING Indian food!

The hall engineers also managed to add a colorful pinkish tint during the performance. As they say best “Sunrise, Sunset.”

The festivities continued the next week with a 3-hour drive to Orlando to work with the amazing kids at University High School. They were performing a la Machaut to the MPA’s and wanted the composer’s feedback on it. What I didn’t know is that they dedicated 4 hours of their afternoon time to just rehearse my piece!!! Wow!!! I was floored, so, naturally, I got up on the podium and danced with them a bit.

By the end, they were kicking some serious butt!

Just one day later, I was off to the University of Texas at Austin to work with Jerry Junkin and his group on my 3rd symphony, In Adventu Finalem, at the Wednesday rehearsal, which went terrifically. Afterward, I had the chance to sit down with some old friends at some of my favorite taco and coffee shops. After a fun interview with my good friend Jon Villelia, it was RIGHT back to the airport the next day and off to Wilmington NC!

I was graciously invited by Robert Parker to guest conduct the Ashley High School Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band on a few selections, including my work, Until Morning Come. I also conducted a few other works that weren’t mine (oOo). My endless complaints against the tireless repertoire of band marches and transcriptions is quite well-reputed, so naturally, I was given March from 1941. Here’s the video of the performance!

It was such a profound learning experience for me to be able to stand on the podium and lead rehearsals and concerts with these high school groups. Also had a chance to meet new faces and catch up with old friends like Dr. Dominic Talanca while having some eclectic Mexican food. Also got a little me time relaxing at the lovely Carolina Beach hotel. I think you can tell I was enjoying myself…

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Right after the concert, I was right back at what I have to consider the world’s smallest airport (it is Wilmington). It’s charm wore off quickly upon realizing my flight was delayed and I was going to miss my connection. Long story short, I ended up stuck in Charlotte overnight and AA would not provide me a hotel voucher because it was the NBA All-Star Weekend (almost all hotels sold-out), so I ended up paying for this super-trashy hotel that reeked of drugs every corner. After the clerk gave me a hotel key to the wrong (and occupied) room, I managed to get some shut-eye before getting up 4 hours later. But hey… at the very least AA did actually reimburse me via per diem.., AND I got $40 worth of free airport food because none of the cashiers wanted to run the $10 food voucher so they let me go — with both the voucher and the free food.

After 24 hours of little sleep and filled with $30 worth of Jamba Juice fluids, I was back in Austin TX for the performance of my symphony later that day. Words couldn’t really explain how moving it was to me and the audience present that afternoon. The poignant message painted by the candelit close to the 1st movement. The cacophony of sound merged with the organ’s en chamades to bring forth an earth-shattering finale. You can’t really expect anything less than perfection when you’re working with ensembles like Jerry’s. Here’s the video stream!

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And that was my 2019 Tour!!! I’m so grateful that I had the chance to work with all these groups this year, and I look forward to more residency opportunities in 2019-20.

Now, please enjoy this picture of me enjoying some “me-time” at the next destination I went to… AKA why I missed CBDNA 2019 :-)

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