It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, I don’t mean Christmas season, nor do I mean the end of the semester, or college football bowl season (which begins soon!). While all these reasons are very valid explanations for why this is the “most wonderful time of the year,” there is a much more significant and worthy explanation.
This, my friends, is the fantastic week in which anyone who is anyone (and many who aren’t anyone!) in the band and orchestra profession get together in Chicago for concerts, clinic sessions, exhibits, meals, and many drinks (for those of age, of course!). I refer, of course, to the annual Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, the epitome of band geekdom, in which musicians, educators, students, and companies from around the country and in fact around the world come to share in their mutual love of the art of music. The Midwest Clinic has been taking place this week, starting in full force on Tuesday and lasting until Saturday afternoon. I had the opportunity to attend on Wednesday evening as well as all day Thursday and Friday, so I figured I would keep you updated on how the clinic went
Midwest began for me on Wednesday evening, where I picked up my registration packet and immediately had the privilege to attend a rare chamber concert at Midwest–the Walton High School Chamber Music Society. The Walton orchestra program, under the direction of Dr. Perry Holborok (whom I met earlier in the semester at UM annd who is one of my close friend’s mentors), put together two fantastic string quartets for one of (if not the) first chamber music performances ever at Midwest. The concert was truly wonderful.
After the concert, my friend Aaron (music education/cello performance major at University of Illinois) and I had the opportunity to grab some dinner at the famous Artist’s Cafe, a small cafe on Michigan Avenue just a few blocks south of Symphony Center. Pianist and former artistic director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Daniel Barenboim was known to frequent the Artist’s cafe after CSO performances. After a quaint meal, it was back to the Hilton Chicago for the “keynote” concert of the night–the U.S. Army Field Band. The Army Field Band lived up to every expectation I had, making incredible music all night.
Thursday began in the exhibit halls for me, where I wandered around for a bit, meeting people and browsing scores. In the late morning, I went to one of the main ballrooms to hear the Lockport HS Wind Symphony. I have a good friend at UM who is a Lockport alum, and her school did not disappoint me; Lockport played some extremely difficult music and played all of it wonderfully. A large bravo goes out to director Brian Covey and the band. Some more time in the exhibit halls after the concert, followed by lunch at Panera, and I found myself with the opportunity to catch up with Phil Clements, the former associate director of bands at Miami. It was great getting to see Mr. Clements again, and catch up on how the semester has been going. After meeting a few other people, I decided that it would be in my best interests to head home and get some rest.
Friday was a busy, busy day! I came down on a 7:15 train with a friend from my High School-an aspiring music educator who had never been to Midwest. It was incredible seeing her eyes bug out when she walked into the exhibit halls, or at the fact that there were SO many band directors there! Oh the joys of being young and ambitious . Our first session was titled “A Conversation with Dr. Al G. Wright.” In this session, Dr. Wright and Colonel John Bourgois (USMC Ret.), former conductor of “The President’s Own Marine Band,” reminisced about Dr. Wright’s past, going through his bachelor’s degree at the University of Miami, his relationship with Miami’s most well-known bandmaster Henry Fillmore, and up through his time as the director of bands at Purdue University. It was a really incredible session, and was lots of fun learning more about the history behind the men who established Miami’s band program.
Anyway, after a morning in the exhibit halls, I went to my first session-a very interesting session on integrating communication using Web2.0 that was given by Carol Broos (follow her on Twitter @musictechie). Ms. Broos demonstrated her profound knowledge of Web2.0 services and definitely helped me be sure that I’m on the right track with all the networking I’m doing with Web 2.0. It was also nice putting a face to the name, as I connected with her on Twitter a few weeks ago!
My friend and I had lunch at the Artist’s cafe with another of my friends, and then went back to the Hilton to enjoy the Wheeling HS Jazz band. WOW! Wheeling played incredibly, and featured some extremely special soloists, both as guest artists and the students in the band. I was left extremely impressed by the performance!
That afternoon, my friend and I headed back up to our hometown to play at the alumni pep band game, which was a really enjoyable experience. It’s always fun going back and seeing how things are different. A major difference was the fact that the entire music department was remodeled thanks to part of the $95 million referrendum that was passed in our High School district. It looks beautiful!
I drove back downtown after the game to spend a last night with my miami friends who had come to chilly Chicago for the conference, and as I headed back home on Saturday morning, I realized how much I enjoyed the conference, and can’t wait until next year, when Midweset will move to McCormick Place!