It turns out blogging with a new baby is tough. Who'd have thought? Anyway, here is a long-overdue rundown of my trip to the International Women's Brass Conference.
The 2014 IWBC was June 4-8 at Northern Kentucky University, just outside Cincinnati. Brendan, Bo and I packed up the car and hit the road, arriving before the conference even began for lots of scheduled rehearsals. That's right, I made my husband tag along so I could have my baby with me. It was his first brass conference. I'm not sure what he expected, but surely it was more fun than a singer conference...no offense, vocalists!
One of the absolute highlights was playing with the Monarch Brass Ensemble under the baton of the inimitable Marie Speziale. This is one incredible group of brass players. Especially exciting for me was finally getting to play beside Gail Robertson! Marie is an inspiration, and her energy and musicianship kept us going through an intense rehearsal schedule. Performing with this group is just so much fun.
My boss, Sgt. Major Ginger Turner, organized a military careers discussion panel with representatives from the Army Field Band, the Marine Band, and the Air Force Band. We spoke about our jobs as military musicians, and fielded some excellent questions. The presentation was attended by some very special Veterans who served in the Women's Army Corps (WAC) Bands. I can't tell you how awesome it was to meet these groundbreaking ladies.
This is Sylvia Greenstein, who played euphonium in the 401st WWII Band from 1943-1945. Of course I feel a kinship with her, as she is surely one of the first female euphonium players to serve in the Army.
Below is a photo of Sylvia in uniform. She is very proud to have served her country during WWII, and cites playing for POWs returning home from Germany as her most important mission. She said she will never forget performing for those young men, so scarred from the terrible war. Sylvia had a ball at IWBC, attending every performance and session she could. I think she got a kick out of my recital.
Speaking of my recital, here I am rocking out with Field Band colleague Becky McLaughlin. We did one movement of Ignaz Lachner's "Concertino for Horn and Bassoon." I think it worked quite well for horn and euph. Conical power!
Also on the program was David Cutler's "El Alacran," composed for euphonium with cajón and maracas. Sidonie Wade of the US Army Band collaborated with me on this very cool piece. She was so much fun to work with, and her percussion pyrotechnics definitely added pizzazz to the program.
The recital was held at a technology center on the NKU campus, and the fancy backdrop you see is hundreds of monitors linked to the computer system. I made good use of this feature, playing a slideshow of landscape photos from my New Zealand honeymoon to accompany Goff Richard's "Rangitoto." The piece is named for a volcanic island off Auckland, and the lovely music certainly fits with the stunning scenery.
My other big engagement at the conference was performing with the Athena Brass Band, an all-female, British-style brass band. It was so exciting to play with this group. We did Howard Snell's burning arrangement of Gypsy Airs (Zigeunerweisen) by Pablo Sarasate. After my solo, band organizer and fellow Soldier Laura Lineberger joined me for a duet paying tribute to the anniversary of D-Day, (the performance was on June 6). I truly appreciate Laura, Conductor Jessica Sneeringer, and all the outstanding musicians of Athena for this thrilling opportunity.
Having my baby with me at the conference made it a very different experience from the 2012 IWBC. While I didn't have to leave my sweet 5-month old behind, I missed so much of the actual conference. It was all I could do to keep up with rehearsals, adjudicating, and gigs, then run back to feed and care for my little man. I am so grateful for my husband, who makes it possible to balance my music career with this tiny human that I love beyond measure. While some days are hectic, I always feel grounded and supported.
To all my IWBC friends, I am sorry I missed your recitals and presentations, and I wish we could have shared a few more beers this time. But, I was right where I needed to be, and I know you understand. In a few years, I will look back on this time and be grateful I had my backstage buddy with me.
It was a great week of music-making in Cinncinati, and I am thankful this wonderful organization exists and brings together such phenomenal people who just happen to be musicians. Thank you to the conference host, Dr. Raquel Rodriguez, for the opportunity to perform and participate. The Curran family had a blast at the 2014 International Women's Brass Conference. Until next time!