In Which Ryan Should Go Make Coffee

March 2021 | 2:3

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Goomba has surrendered to the will of the radiator, while Koopa is unimpressed with her display. It is worth noting that they are occasionally not on the actual radiator.

What's Been Happening

As we approach the anniversary of When Things Changed, the biggest item of note is that things feel like they are starting to move again. Obviously they still aren’t normal, or even at a new normal (a term that feels like it jumped the shark before it even got going), but even with pauses for weather life is finally at a point again where I have to be “an adult” with “a schedule” who “does things”. It’s not any one thing although various drum corps are attempting their next steps, more projects both virtual and in-person are starting to be planned, and I’ve finally unlocked 100% of Wii Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7 (with 5.15 billion studs, take that Jeff Bezos!). Fundamentally it just feels in a cosmic sense like it’s time to make some coffee and start the day, and even though I’m far from a morning person I can usually get talked into some coffee. So I guess I should do that and get to work.

Chart O' The Month

Danse NegreRidge View HS Wind Ensemble / Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
00:00 / 06:29

One of the more interesting projects I’ve done in the last year is an orchestral transcription for concert band of the fourth movement from Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s African Suite (Opus 34). Commissioned by the Ridge View High School Wind Ensemble (Dustin King, director), it was recently premiered during their performance at the 2021 University of South Carolina Honor Band Clinic as part of the South Carolina Music Educators Association Conference and I think it came off really well. The entire concert was live streamed and recorded here, which includes a link to their program with performance notes so it’s definitely worth checking out.

What made the project particularly interesting to me was two things. First, while I’ve obviously done a ton of work in the music education scene and that tends to center around concert band and/or canonical orchestral literature, this was the first time in years that I really sat down and dug into either an orchestral score or a concert band orchestration project. Being able to devote the time to score study and listening to both the original piano version and the orchestral score was really fun, and doubly so once I started working to translate those sounds back to a concert band instrumentation all while trying to keep the composer’s original intent. Even getting into the nerdy questions like “why was this part notated differently between the two original versions?” was cool to explore, and was a nice exercise for me personally as a writer given how often I get to deviate from original intent.

Secondly, it provided an opportunity to learn about Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, one of the first composers of African descent to really make a mark in the Western European tradition. I’m still woefully under-informed especially given how much of my musical life occurs within the Afro-diasporic tradition, but it was extremely interesting both musically and historically to look closer at this particular intersection of cultures that was soon to spawn jazz and most other American musical art forms. Most importantly, it’s caused me to ask some questions and have interesting conversations with friends that know way more about this than me, and in this day and age that seems to be a great place to start.

Epidendrum 'Pacific Sunset' x 'Pink Rabbit'.JPG

Look, Nature!

I still like snow, but for everyone who doesn’t and especially the state of Texas… yeah, my bad.

But hey, a cool snow picture from our backyard!

Education Notes

Over the past year (and going back well before), Mary Galime has put together a wealth of resources using the Denis Wick Artist Group. I highly recommend checking out the resources found here including the Denis Wick App, resource articles from the BUZZ newsletter, and the “This is You” podcast, but in particular there have recently been some fascinating panel discussions on various topics and Mary has posted these to the Denis Wick USA Youtube Channel.

These are ongoing so check out the BUZZ newsletter or Wick social media pages to see what is coming up live, but past topics have included discussions on the music scenes in various cities, talks with designers of Wick mouthpieces, audition advice from college professors and professional performers, and recovering both mentally and physically from setbacks in your playing and your career. They are fairly in depth but informal, and all of the people involved are easily approachable with any kind of follow up questions, so I highly recommend checking out any of these that pique your interest.