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A Reflection: Playing Under Gary Green in the University of Miami Wind Ensemble

This past weekend, Gary Green led his final concert as the conductor of the University of Miami Wind Ensemble and Director of Instrumental Performance at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music.

When I arrived as a freshman at the University of Miami, I was assigned to Symphonic Winds, the “2nd band,” in which I played bari sax. Even though it was not the “top band,” I remember thinking that the sound was amazingly rich. All those tubas, euphoniums, and trombones! Our high school band was good, but we only had one tuba – so yeah, the sound was pretty different. The Symphonic Winds rehearsed in the cavernous Fillmore hall, and though our conductor wasn’t Gary Green, he occasionally visited rehearsals and guest conducted. Whenever a DMA applicant for wind conducting visited the school, he or she would conduct the band and Mr. Green would sit in the back, watching and observing how they used their time on the podium.

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Sneak Peek: “Winter Song” for Flute and String Orchestra

Yes, it is Spring, and yes I am working on a piece called “Winter Song.” But, I live in Rochester, NY, so it is basically Winter all year long here – cut me some slack.

This new piece is for my good friend Chung Park, Director of Orchestral Studies at Appalachian State University. It is written for flute and string orchestra that uses material from a piece I wrote a few years ago for flute and marimba. I liked much of the material I originally wrote, but recently, I felt like strings would be a better fit, and decided to take the opportunity to revise and improve the ideas.

An important harmonic element in the piece is a sonority that I really enjoy – major 7th chords in various voicings. The main chord structure that helps inform the harmonic progression of the work is a series of two fifths, stacked on top of each other, separated in the middle by a half step (i.e. C, G and Ab, Eb). I use this sonority throughout and move the chord by fifths, sequentially, through all twelve keys.

Here is a rough MIDI export of the first 3 ½ minutes:

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Advice for Musicians: Three Takeaways From My “Hangout” with Nancy Christensen

Last night I hosted a fun Google Hangout for Polyphonic.org with artist manager and entrepreneur Nancy Christensen, President and Founder of Christensen Arts LLC. Nancy had many great pieces of advice for musicians, and below are three that I especially liked.

1. Be Able to Communicate, and Be Unique
Nancy said that when she is considering whether or not to take on a performer as a client, two important factors she considers are communication skills and uniqueness. She talked about the importance of not just being a great performer, but also being able to communicate with an audience, talk with donors after a concert, work with kids in an outreach setting, and more. She also stressed the importance of having something that sets you apart from the many other people that do similar things as you. What about you is different and unique, and why should people be interested in that? Read more