my wife flew back from kentucky this morning, booking an early flight home so she could see her three wise men and still make it on time to the isu orchestra concert. she had a busy past couple of days - traveling, rehearsing with her trio, getting some personal last minute practice in, managing ensemble dynamics, playing the concert, traveling again.
we made it a smidge before the isu orchestra took the stage. us saxophonists rarely have the chance to play with an orchestra, but being married to a flutist means i go to a bunch of this stuff and support her students. i also have students in ISUO (an acronym that i'm sure nobody uses), but they are in my jazz ensembles and not in my studio. plus my friend jacob is the director, and i can certainly appreciate the amount of work that goes into something like this. he commissioned a cool piece by his friend andrew, and programmed a beautiful slow movement by the incomparable john adams before they tackled stravinsky's firebird.
several of us met for dinner afterwards at black market pizza (as featured in man vs. food) and dipped into some philosophical art talk. we discussed the reluctance of revealing one's compositional process, talked about how great whitesnake was back in the day (maybe that was just me), agreed that concerts that go way too long are a real drag, discovered that we love linksys, and laughed at how conveniently frequent singers get 'sick'.
i got home, checked my email, and read that my friend marcy wants to this cassandra wilson tune "a little warm death" to her set for a gig this saturday. i'm certain there is no lead sheet for it, and maybe i'm supposed to create one? do i have time to do another arrangement at an acceptable creative level? i like the tune and all, but am i pressing my luck by adding more stuff to my plate?
man, doing music professionally is really taxing. it's not a cakewalk. there is a bunch of work that needs to happen in order to productive, let alone good. schedules, good recordings, massaging egos, rehearsals, intonation, staying updated, publicity, clean concert black, reeds, cues, what to eat beforehand, students, money, parents, peer criticism, practice.
then thankfully it dawned on me... i love music.
the air spinning up my throat and into my mouth only to recoil and zip through my horn and up into the space in which i am occupying. the satisfaction of a good ensemble performance. the look in a student's eye when they are really getting it. the eager energy found in listening to a favorite recording and impatiently waiting for my favorite part. the first time i hear an album new to me, and the positive vibe from the friend that told me i should check it out because i would probably like it. the bantering of ideas about conductors and music school politics. the way adams didn't resolve how i thought he would. the look of pride on my wife's face when her students play well on the concert. the low end of cassandra's voice (and that four chord i didn't see coming). the warmth i feel when i can share my talents and my enthusiasm for music with someone else.
last night simon, kale and i practiced simultaneously. kale worked out jingle bells on his cornet, simon tightened up his bell part on galactic overture for tuesday's 6th grade band concert, and i broke in some new reeds with free improv calisthenics. the house was busting at the seams with cacophony, and it was beautiful. i'm a lucky man.