24 November 2011

What I did


Arrive safely in the Buckeye State. Once settled, practice for not-quite-an-hour. (Not enough? Of course, it wasn't. But I did practice until the chops started to tire.)

Went to dinner with mine hosts. The later dining hour (which was driven by my practice session) was a boon, as we missed the traffic out of the Ohio State / Penn State football contest.


Drive to Cleveland. Google maps sees me to Pete's place with customary ease and efficiency, and I arrive at half past eleven, as planned. Pete comes home from church shortly after. (He's become involved in a local Episcopal parish, which may prove a suitable venue for Henningmusick hereafter.) Allowing for a hot cup of tea, we probably got playing at 12 or so, took a break in the middle (refreshing tea) and went on until half past three. Lots of work on the gnarlier bits (quite a few of those in The Mousetrap, truth to tell). The two of us do indeed enjoy working together, and I am impressed/honored anew at the work Pete is willing to lay in, on this challenging piece. Since it is for a master class rather than a formal performance, we settle on less frantic tempi for the, well, frantic sections, which will nonetheless sound impressively rapid. Both of us feeling (a) that we wish we had a week to work the piece more, the two of us together, and (b) that the piece merits arranging future concerts, both in Boston and Ohio . . . and possibly in NYC (Pete has a new contact).

Drive back to the Heart of the Buckeye State, and have a lovely visit with Cato and Mrs Cato, hot tea and custard pie. I thought Cato was going to play Haydn but instead it was a playful quarter-tone exercise. Mrs Cato observes that the sine-wave tones somehow wind up sounding harmonica-esque. Also found was the tape of an organ piece Cato wrote for their wedding; not your ideal recording, to be sure, but a charming document.


Pete & I have decided to meet at Wooster at noon, to rehearse some more early enough to allow the wimpy clarinetist a goodly chunk of time for embouchure recovery. KH arrives at the Scheide Music Center at about noon, Pete is slightly delayed (no worries). I am thinking, ask someone in the Music Dept office where we might play for an hour or so, but the office is dark: week of Thanksgiving, just the secretary on duty, and she deserves her lunch break as well as anyone. I find where the practice rooms are, but they are all locked. I sit down and look at my pieces, which is a little different . . . when looking at these pieces, I am almost always trying to play them, so it is a good prep for the master class to sit and look them over, just as scores.

A likely chap appears, to whom I introduce myself, and he opens a practice room for me. I get settled, assemble the clarinets, and . . . there is only one stand. I accost a student who helpfully opens another room so that I can grab a second stand. Pete lands, and starts warming up. I step out into the hall, and Dr Gallagher (Jack) appears, my first composition teacher. Very pleasant reunion, Jack introduces me to a trumpet student, a senior who is thinking about grad school, at (among other places) B.U., so I bring Pete (who did his doctorate at B.U.) into the conversation.

We do at last set to practicing, probably for an hour and a bit. Arriving at a musical place where we feel reasonably good, we pack up and head to downtown Wooster for a bite to eat at a Hungarian café.

Pete & I return to Scheide about a quarter past four (class is to start at 17:15). Jack booked room 106, which has a raised stage area. The chairs, though, are too low. I wander about and find the large ensemble room, and borrow two chairs (fully intending to return them, natch), whose seat height is much better.

A scant five minutes before we were to start, we had only three students in the room, but there is time yet . . . and to be sure, more cruised in, and we must have had seven students (plus two teachers other than Jack).

The students were a bit shy at first, but after Irreplaceable Doodles they warmed up a rather. Each of them to a man had at least one intelligent question to ask.

Pete and I had agreed to break The Mousetrap into three parts, so that we could invite questions and conversation in the piece's midst. At first, I found stopping points so that the three "parts" were all about the same duration; but then, Pete suggested that we play a longer "part 1," and allow for diminishing attention after with two somewhat shorter "parts."

So . . . we play through the first "part," we stop and chat a bit about it. And as we are about to start back up, Pete asks me if we should take the second break, or just play through. We both felt that the students were engaged, so I decided to just play it out to the end.

Afterwards, Jack took us out to eat at a Mexican restaurante, and we must have talked until the place was about to close.


Weather is sopping wet. I spend the morning essentially relaxing, drinking hot tea, nibbling on some very tasty pumpkin bread which Cato baked, and listening to King Crimson with my old Wooster mates. Cato and I meet for a brief lunch near where he works.

Then I meet at last a fellow I've been in e-mail contact with for probably two years, a clarinetist with one of the orchestras in Ohio. We got on well. Every year he comes east to visit family and friends; so the plan now is that I shall write some clarinet duets, and we shall play them in either or both places.


I get up at quarter past four for my first flight, have a tight-ish connection in Milwaukee, but everything goes smoothly. Although the weather in Boston is windy and rainy, my plane lands surpassing gently.

And now: Thanksgiving.

No comments: