Midwest Clinic Update, Part 4

Here is the final part in my series on this year’s Midwest Clinic (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3). I plan to post some summary comments next week once I’ve had time to process everything a bit more, but this will be the last update while I’m actually at the conference. My wife and I have had a wonderful time here, but are looking forward to returning home. Today is the last day of the conference, and we’ll be catching a flight back to Louisiana tomorrow morning. The closing concert of the conference featured the Kunitachi College of Music Blasorchester, a very fine wind ensemble based in Japan (an English version of their website is currently unavailable, so I’ve linked to the Wikipedia entry instead). As you might expect, the performance was top notch, with a program consisting mostly of contemporary wind band works as well as a few transcriptions. Here’s a snapshot of the program booklet. In part 3 of this series yesterday I forgot to include one other session I attended, presented by Frank Ticheli. Dr. Ticheli is one of the most well known figures in the band world, and is a Professor of Composition at the University of Southern California. His session was titled “A Composer’s Secrets,” and included a number of insights about composition and conducting. A few that really resonated with me were “composers don’t always get it right,” and “sometimes it’s ok to sacrifice technical accuracy.” On the first point, Ticheli pointed out several places in his own compositions where the markings on the page don’t really communicate what he had in mind, and that it is up to the musicians to do what makes the most musical sense. And on the second point he demonstrated two different ways of conducting the same work – one was technically perfect, but bland and uninspired, while the other was more spontaneous and exciting, but perhaps not as perfectly executed as the first. The choice between the two was obviously clear – the musically convincing interpretation will win out every time.  I’ve performed Ticheli’s music several times over the years, and his horn writing is always exciting and very reasonable. One other reason I was particularly interested in his clinic is that he will be visiting The University of Louisiana at Monroe in February as a Composer-in-Residence. Ticheli has ties with both Louisiana and the Monroe area, and we are all looking forward to his visit.

Ok, that’s all for now. I want to congratulate and thank everyone involved with The Midwest Clinic for putting on a world-class conference. If you’ve never attended the Midwest Clinic I highly recommend it. Educators and performers of all levels will find something valuable here.

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