Category Archives: Performances

A New Chapter

The page has turned.

RBD and mda have both moved on from our untimely departure from our previous jobs (read our blog ‘Struggling Arts Hits Home’ directly after we lost our jobs). mda has found a great new home with the Percussive Arts Society or PAS, where he is now the Director of Marketing and Communications. Congrats to you mda!!

I, however, has gone a slightly different path. Instead of hitting the pavement and going out and looking for another job (hopefully within the arts industry), I decided that since I had enough gigs and money saved up to pay bills through the calendar year, I would invest my time into the bass trombone, tenor trombone, orchestral trombone and jazz trombone. My goal was (and still is) to become a solid player on both the bass trombone and tenor trombone in both the jazz and classical worlds. No small order to be sure.

I’ve always had one foot in the classical world and one foot in the jazz world. I work in both and have been successful in both. But I wanted to be the best all around player. I wanted to be able to go do a small group jazz gig on my tenor trombone, and turn around and win a bass trombone orchestral audition. Well, five months later, I’m getting closer and closer to my goal.

I recently won a position with the Sinfonia da Camera out of Urbana Illinois, conducted by Ian Hobson and I am also on contract with the Anderson Symphony Orchestra in Anderson Indiana conducted by Rick Sowers. These are two small orchestras with a grand total of 12 concerts I’ll play, but its a start and I’ll be blogging about each orchestra as the season unfurls. Each orchestra has a good brass section, clear and easy going conductors and are playing good repertoire so it should be a fun season of playing!

Later this week, I’ll be blogging about working within the Jazz and Classical world and expanding on how I am practicing for each genre!


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A Concert From Last Night

So last night I went to the symphony orchestra concert.  It was certainly a nice program with Beethoven Symphony 8 and Beethoven Symphony 9.  A night of Beethoven…what could be better?  I mainly just want to touch on a few aspects of the night and leave it at that.  It will be a short post.

1. The tempo a conductor chooses is very important and really can make or break the performance by the musicians.

2. Soprano Sara Jakubiak and Tenor Sean Panikkar both have extremely strong voices and were quite impressive.  Best part of the night was certainly each of their performances.  The future is bright when there are vocalists out there like these two!

3. Just because it is a popular piece and there are a lot of people on the stage (orchestra, soloists and choir) does not mean the performance deserves a standing ovation and about five callbacks.  I know this has been a discussion RBD and I have had many times in the past and maybe we should revisit the discussion once again.  It could start by reminding everyone what a standing ovation is meant to signify.


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The Current Relationship Between Jazz and Classical

So this is nothing new at all.  This has been happening for a very long time.  If you want a history lesson, I will let RBD give the history lesson.  He would be better at that than myself right now.  What am I talking about?  Well that would be musicians crossing over between jazz and classical.  Again, it has happened and will continue to happen.  Heck, RBD does it all the time!

However, I want to touch upon one young composer and jazz musician.  Steve Lehamn.  He, like other young composers, have begun really looking at more of the ‘avant garde’ side of each discipline and how to connect them.  *note: I am not always a fan of the term ‘avant garde’ and yet I find myself using it quite a bit.  Too late to change now…*

And yet, I feel Lehman’s music is still very accessible for people.  There is still an underlying ease of groove, for lack of a better word, whether you are listening to his jazz compositions or contemporary compositions.  It’s people like Steve Lehman that still gets me excited about new music.  Granted, it’s not hard to get me excited when it comes to new music pushing the boundaries of the jazz or classical world; however, this music is even better.  That’s how I have always been, whether we are talking about music, art or literature.

The first video will give you insight into Lehman’s work within the contemporary classical world.  Four great compositions by Steve Lehman. The second video gives you insight into Steve’s compositional process and his work within the jazz world.  I will put in a plug and strongly urge you to check out his album Steve Lehman Octet: Travail, Transformation and Flow (the second video is a live show of music from that album).  It truly is a great album to listen to and feels just as fresh today as it did when released in 2009.

ICElab at LPR | Impossible Flow: Music of Steve Lehman from ICE on Vimeo.

Jazzlink# 8 : Steve Lehman from Josselin Carré on Vimeo.

So take the step and check out some of this new music.  Find these musicians who are pushing the boundaries and making new things.  It really is exciting and there is so much to take in.  It shows that the arts, although not supported like it should be, is still trying to move forward and be a force within humanity.  If enough of us check it out and support it, maybe things will change.


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Filed under New Music/Ideas, Performances

A Saxophone Recital of Note

Dr. Paul Bro

As some already know, my undergraduate degrees come from Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana.  I spent 5 great years as a student of the Department of Music. (Congrats on the Department of Music becoming a School of Music this year!)  One of the main reasons I chose ISU over places like Indiana University, University of Cincinnati and others was because of the size of the classes, allowing for more personal development with the professors, and the saxophone instructor Dr. Paul Bro.  Paul taught me quite a bit about playing the saxophone, being a performer and studying music.  Every once in a while I try to make it back to ISU to catch up with the professors, support my alma mater and hear some great classical saxophone.  January 26 was one of those evenings.  Paul performed five great pieces by Mark-Anthony Turnage, Paul Bonneau, Lori Laitman, Charles Koechlin and Marcel Mihalovici.  I won’t do a run down review of each piece here, but I will say each one was great and it was absolutely wonderful to hear Paul perform again.  It always makes me feel great to think I am still welcome as a part of the classical saxophone community even though I rarely have a chance to perform anymore.  So thanks Paul for a great recital.  I especially liked your rendition of the Bonneau Caprice en forme de Valse and Lori Laitman’s beautiful work I Never Saw Another Butterfly, a setting of six poems written by children in the Terezin concentration camp during World War II (I strongly suggest everyone to seek out this collection of poetry and read them…haunting beauty in all of them).  So thank you Paul, I can’t wait to hear your next recital.


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Looking for Live Music

Bachtrack logo

Looking for a way to find live Classical music around the world?  How about Bachtrack.  I was just told about this site and am still looking through much of it, but it seems to be a really cool thing.  I will continue searching through it and will try to give a report on the good and bad of the website.  So far, though, it seems like if organizations will use the site and upload concert calendars, we may have a hit.  I know RBD and I have always discussed how Indy could really use an all-inclusive site where the city’s performing arts organizations would have a calendar of events updated regularly.  Maybe something to work on this year…


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Filed under Marketing-Publicity-Getting the Word Out, New Music/Ideas, Performances

The Issue of Gustav Mahler and Orchestras

Gustav Mahler Photograph

mda: Another blog while sitting at Upland Tasting Room in Indianapolis.  So RBD and I (mda) had the great pleasure of hearing Mahler 2 by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra the other week.  First off, this is one of my all-time favorite pieces of music without a doubt.  I have a feeling RBD will agree with me on all accounts.  So before we discuss this issue, I would like to say a few words about the performance.  It was a great interpretation of the piece.  The conductor really took some liberties with the tempos, but I rather enjoyed it.  The choir was excellent…great interpretation of the vocal parts.

RBD: I do agree, mda, with your assessment of the performance by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. This is one of my favorite pieces as well. I remember hearing this as a Middle School student or young High Schooler with my Dad in St. Louis. I felt this time, as I did back then (about 20 years ago) from the opening lick, as if I began a journey. An epic journey! Mahler said that he felt that he needed to put the whole world into his symphonies. That is so true with Symphony #2!! Oh, mda, you mentioned an issue in your previous statement. What’s the issue my friend?

mda: Well I believe you and I were talking after the concert about how the orchestra performed Mahler and I mentioned something along the lines of “Mahler really displays the inconsistencies of an orchestra.”  That made me start thinking about Mahler as a whole.  Is there really a composer out there that consistently pushes the limits of the orchestra like Mahler?

RBD: That’s a good point. Mahler has EVERYTHING! A HUGE orchestra that has people playing the whole time, plus chorus. I can only imagine playing an entire season of classical to neo-classical music (plus Pops Concert after Pops Concert) and then have to play Mahler for a week!! It’s like thinking it’s no big deal to walk down the street to the store. It’s only a mile away after all. Not bad, until you realize the store is actually 3 miles away, uphill and it’s raining! You’re tired by the end of that walk!

mda: Well that is one way to put it.  It really is is an interesting thing to think about and discuss.  Mahler’s orchestras are typically larger than a typical orchestra, but the way he writes shows every little, minute detail of the orchestra makeup.  Each player is just as important as the principal of each section.  Now I realize that this isn’t just a ‘Mahler issue.’  However, it somehow presents itself more than most other composers.  Now RBD, since you are a musician who regularly performs in an orchestral setting do you feel you and other musicians prepare differently for Mahler? Obviously you do, but what are the differences?

Famous Mahler Silhouette

RBD: Well, I would say that most orchestral musicians actually prepare for Mahler. They prepare mentally and physically. If you look on the schedule and see “A Night With the Beatles” or “Pink Floyd Tribute”, you’ll probably not run up to the library and get the parts. BUT, you more than likely have the Mahler week down in your calendar. You already have the parts and you begin listening to the beast well in advance. If you’re lulled into a musical sleep by doing short, easy pieces for weeks on end, you have to get yourself back into condition to be able to play something as massive as Mahler. A giant piece like that does show flaws. There is so much going on all the time, that slip-ups are bound to happen, even with the best of the best. The better the orchestras the less noticeable the slip-ups, but I guarantee they are there.

mda: All good points, but we would like to hear from you out there.  Tell us what you think of this Mahler conundrum? What other conductors would you place in to this conundrum…maybe Shostakovich or Wagner?  Would you want to place Beethoven in this arena?  Tell us what you think!

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Opera at the Movies: CARMEN

Carmen Opera Poster

Poster for the Opera Carmen

This past weekend, mda and I (RBD) went to see the Metropolitan Opera matinee performance of CARMEN by George Bizet. No we didn’t fly to NYC, catch a cab and dash into Lincoln Center to see this marvelous production. We simply went to our local movie theatre, in our jeans, to watch The MET: Live in HD Cinecast of the MET’s CARMEN! (oh, and it was LIVE!!!!!)

mda: Wow.  First off, let’s talk about what a great concept this is for the

Georges Bizet

Georges Bizet: Composer, CARMEN

MET.  As we all know, opera is the most complete art form on this planet as it is a mixture of music, literature, drama, art and dance all in one performance.  However, this also makes opera one of the most expensive art forms to produce.  By broadcasting live to a large variety of movie theaters around the US (3 different theaters in Indy alone), the MET is able to garner more support through ticket sales and asking for contributions before each performance. It is a great marketing tool.

RBD: I totally agree. I have heard people talking about this ‘MET at the Movies deal for a year now and am sorry to say that this was my first experience. I was blown away. For years I have been playing operas underneath the stage. I’ve played more operas than I’ve seen through the years! With the movie experience, as an audience member, you not only get to see what is going on up on the stage, you get to see A LOT of the action backstage! WOW! To be able to see the scenery moving around and the actors/singers getting ready for the next scene/act, is really a COOL experience! I agree with mda

Elina Garanca as Carmen

that opera is an expensive art-form and the extra 40-60 people in each theater around the country hearing a sales pitch from the lovely and talented Rene Fleming is an added bonus (as my friend Jared says, “Besides war, opera is the most expensive human invention.”) Broadcasting operas such as Carmen, in a relaxed atmosphere is the perfect way to get and create a larger audience HOOKED on opera!

mda: So I just ran across this article.  The MET beat their previous record with 320,000 viewers around the world.  320,000 people enjoying the opera.  Let me say that again, 320,000 viewers AROUND THE WORLD! How cool is that?

Elina Garanca

Elina Garanca as her natural blond

RBD: That is pretty cool! Just amazing! FINALLY an arts organization that is DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT!! A new concept that is bringing the ARTS to the MASSES!! So many organizations are simply waiting for the people to come to them. They think, ‘If we provide a good artistic experience at the highest level, people are surely to be here to check it out.’ And, sadly, people don’t show up. Yes, the concert, the performance is spectacular, but people are not coming. Now, the MET brings opera to the people and it is PAYING OFF! What can other arts organizations learn from this? Thinking outside the box is a great way to create a new audience! Why don’t more arts organizations do this? What is holding them back? Tradition? Fear? Laziness?

mda: Those are all great points.  I think it is tradition and a little fear.  Is it possible when the MET announced the opera HD experience in theaters four seasons ago that other arts organizations thought they ‘sold out?’ I hope not, but I really don’t know.  Let’s bring other art forms in to mainstream venues.  I think it is important to reach the masses in their comfort zone than expect them to leave their comfort zone to reach the art forms.  One thing I know we talked about after the performance was over is the accessibility of the entire opera.  I think you made the comment that you didn’t realize how much of the music you were really familiar with.  I think you said something like 80% of the music.  Do you think this could be a ‘gateway’ piece to introduce people to classical music?

RBD: Oh, absolutely. Getting to go out to see a classic opera such as CARMEN that has great music, recognizable music and a story line that is easy to follow and engaging, is a perfect choice. The MET wasn’t selling out, they were presenting a classic opera to 320,000 people coming to see it across the world. If 10% of those people came back to see a less popular opera, or a modern opera, that’s 32,000 more people checking out OPERA! Job well done in my opinion!

mda: Definitely.  Plus, Elina Garanca as Carmen was absolutely amazing!  I don’t think I have ever been so

Elina as the saucy Carmen

Elina as the saucy and sensual Carmen

moved by a performance as I was that afternoon.  Bravo to all at the MET!  Your organization is truly something other arts organizations should look up to!

RBD: Kudos to the MET! Couldn’t agree more mda! Could not agree more.

p.s. – Can you tell we think Elina Garanca is absolutely, stunningly talented (and gorgeous)!??!!?


~ mda


Filed under Performances