It's only been a month since I last wrote. NBD, right? Yeah. Um...
To be fair, it was so insane that I haven't actually had a chance to even read the blogs I follow, much less write my own. In between December 15th and January 5, I'm pretty sure I was at home for a grand total of 4 days, and that's using the term lightly. I flew to Chicago to my very first Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic (and stayed away from the kids for the first extended time - and Freddy the first time ever) to work the National Band Association booth. By the time we got home (Nate was able to come with me and probably had more fun, since he actually got to go to the clinics instead of stay in the exhibition hall), Nate's grandmother was in from Florida and his uncle and his family from New York as well, plus my older brother from Ohio and my aunt and uncle from New York, so we were spending every day somewhere else, including a day trip to Pennsylvania to visit my extended family. Then this week, there was Epiphany and Eastern Christmas, AND I came down with a nasty cold, which I may have caught from Rosie or vice-versa, and now Freddy has it as well, though neither have it as badly as I did. I'm still not over it - I sound like a career smoker - but everything is substantially calmer.
I know. Excuses.
I wish I had something more substantial to say about Chicago, but alas, I literally spent 95% of the conference hours at the NBA booth either signing people up for membership or waiting for someone to walk by (you could always tell when really good clinics were being run, because the hall would be dead). There were some high points. I got to either see in passing or actually meet Jan Van der Roost*, James Swearingen, John Mackey, Frank Ticheli, Johan De Meij, David Gorham, Col. Shelburne (former U.S. Army Band conductor), and Col. John Bourgeois (former U.S. Marine Band conductor). Some were literally seeing only - Mackey walked by the booth and waved, Ticheli stopped by the booth and I stood in awed silence while he talked to Emily Threinen, Van der Roost was checking in at the same time as me and we kept passing each other for days till I figured out who he was, and de Meij was napping on a couch the last day of conference. Others have better stories.
-Gorham was taking a shuttle to the airport with us and we were chatting casually until he said his name and Nate recognized it as he's had his kids play some of his stuff. He's super personable and totally humble, but kind of a huge deal - his band program in Oklahoma has earned both the Sudler Flag (concert band) and Shield (marching band), something only 14 bands have done. He's a member of the American Bandmasters Association, which is a sponsorship/voting in membership organization. His bands have performed at Midwest and BOA and probably every other major conference or clinic for his state, region, and country, and we didn't even know he was the person sitting behind us until Nate asked. Dang.
-Col. Shelburne is a member of the NBA and actually worked a shift at the booth with me. He's a sweet old man who led Pershing's Own while my friend's dad (and my sister's private teacher) was in the group (that's a little misleading - he's still in the band, but Shelburne retired). He actually said that that person was his wife's favorite saxophone player and his own personal favorite soloist because he's just so darn humble and laid-back.
-Col. Bourgeois is also a member of the NBA, but he is a past president, and that means that he was at the dinner that the Executive Board and past presidents get to go to. I was able to go because, well, I helped plan it, but it was almost nothing like what I expected, mostly because of Col. Bourgeois. He was something else. That link above takes you to the tamest of his limericks, and I only recorded three of them when he easily recited a dozen. He's also a bit of a BA - he was the director of the President's Own after being in it and being an arranger for it. His career for the Marine Band alone was almost 40 years, and that ended almost 20 years ago and he's still going strong.
-That dinner got me meeting so many different people in such a comfortable setting that the next day, when I was getting lunch, I made a bit of a faux-pas. I thought I recognized one of the friendlier past presidents that I walked up to him at the condiment station and said, rather loudly, "WELL, fancy seeing YOU here!" He turned...and I didn't know him...and his nametag read James Swearingen. Oy. He was fairly good-natured about it and responded with an awkward, "Ah, yes, well. Nice to see you. Lunch time!" and walked away. And that was on day 1 of the actual conference. Whoops.
So since that and the holidays and the crazy running from house to house are done, maybe I can clean my own. For real. I love Christmas, but man, it'll be nice to have the tree put away and the space back in this tiny house.
*that piece was actually commissioned by and composed for the Nagano Community Band BEFORE they hosted the Olympics - like, 6 years prior. A weird coincidence, but it reminds me that the Winter Games are coming soon! Woohoo!