I’m happy to announce that on March 18, the Capitol City Symphony will be premiering a jaunty and nostalgic 12-minute piece of mine called My Own Personal Rocketship. Maestra Victoria Gau will conduct. There’s a second piece of mine on the program: one movement of my symphony, The Blue Chevrolet. It’s a family concert complete with pre-show instrument petting zoo, so if you’ve got kiddos in DC to entertain that day, I hope you’ll zoom by. It’s at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, with shows at 4 and 6 pm.
This sounds like the start of an accordion joke: My accordion seemed to be out of tune. But seriously, it did. So I searched the internet for help and came up with Busso’s Accordion Shop in Alexandria, Virginia. Now, I must admit that my accordion playing is limited. I play it like a piano with my right hand, and have never really mastered all the buttons on the lefthand side—or at least not so far. So I was somewhat nervous going into the bellows of the beast, but it turned out that the shop’s proprietor, Frank Busso, is a non-judgmental champ of a guy. He confirmed that my accordion was, indeed, out of tune and needed fixing. While I was at the shop, I got the chance to play a really good instrument: a top-of-the-line Titano. I also added a destination to my travel bucket list: Castelfidardo, Italy, the international capital of accordion builders. I hope that when I finally get there, they will welcome me as a brother.
A while back, I was commissioned to write a piece that would introduce kids to the sections of the orchestra, and in December, I had the pleasure of seeing it premiered by Maestra Victoria Gau and the National Philharmonic Orchestra. Over the course of a week, Give Me the Orchestra was played for nearly 10,000 second-graders from Montgomery County, Maryland. The piece involves some call-and-response between the students and the orchestra, and what a response it was! I don’t think I have ever had a piece of music get such an enthusiastic reception. I’d love to see this one played more broadly.
A few days ago, I started my work day on a long Skype call with a friend in Paris who is working on bringing my jazz band, Chaise Lounge, to France for a tour. As soon as that call ended, I was added to a Zoom.us video conference with a filmmaker and a corporate client. From our three different cities, we shared film edit files and made comments and adjustments as we listened. In real time! Just a few years ago, that would have taken days of travel and a mind-numbing amount of back-and-forth revisions. After the conference call was over, I made my final adjustments to the score in ProTools and sent the stereo .wav files to the filmmaker via a large file transfer site called Hightail. I marveled at the technology that keeps collapsing the time it takes to do this work, and the distance among those of us who do it. I then took out my pen and wrote several thank-you notes, put them in envelopes, and left them for the postman. For some things, slower is better. I hope your new year is starting off well, at whatever speed you are starting it.