I'm back home in the United States after spending the past two weeks in Powell River, British Columbia for the Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy. This was my second year attending PRISMA and I had such a fabulous time reconnecting with friends from last summer, as well as meeting many new incredible musicians from around the world. The members of our percussion section came from Texas, Washington, Canada, and South Africa! Continue reading as I describe my unique experiences and share some photos from PRISMA 2017!
Featured Concerto Soloist
I first decided to attend PRISMA last summer when I discovered the annual PRISMA Concerto Competition. I was fortunate to win the competition last year which resulted in my invitation to perform as guest timpanist with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra.
Rehearsals for the concerto began immediately upon arriving at the festival! The student conductor assigned to my concerto, Motoki Tanaka, from Japan, had luckily conducted the Sejourne concerto in the past and knew the piece inside-and-out! Even with only a few rehearsals, the final product was very solid. It was such a joy to perform for the receptive and supportive audience members of the wonderful Powell River community without the stress of having to compete as I did last year!!
"Raven Tales": A Chamber Music Concert
In addition to the various chamber and solo recitals, I also performed as percussionist and timpanist of the PRISMA Orchestra in all five orchestral concerts presented during the two-week festival. We opened the festival with the annual "Concert on the Beach" event at beautiful Willingdon Beach in Powell River. Then, a couple nights later, on the Gala Grand Opening Concert, I performed the Sejourne concerto with the orchestra. The following day we presented a full orchestral program for two separate audiences, once in the early afternoon and once in the evening. Then, on the final night of the festival, we presented the final Gala Closing Concert.
From performing snare drum on Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2 to timpani on Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty Waltz, I was most excited to perform as the timpanist on Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier Suite. The piece itself is notorious for its numerous tuning/pedaling changes and appears frequently as a standard excerpt on most professional timpani auditions. However, this particular performance of the part was complicated by two additional challenges: performing on American drums (setup "backwards" from my typical German setup) and performing on a 32" chain drum (pitches are altered by turning a crank with the hand rather than by a pedal with the foot). These initial "challenges," however, actually made the piece a lot of fun to tackle and the performance was very exciting! It was the final piece we performed during the PRISMA festival and it was a wonderful way to close out my two weeks in Canada!
The "Sunshine Coast"
Located along the northern "Sunshine Coast" of southwestern British Columbia, Powell River provides a beautiful setting for the PRISMA festival. With record temperatures hot enough to cancel flights and melt plastic trashcans back home in Arizona, my two-week escape to Canada was much appreciated! The mornings were chilly with the cool ocean breeze and the sun was never too hot during the day. It rained during much of the first week and the beach concert was much colder than last year!
Until Next Time...
With much of my attention now focused on preparing for my big move to the University of Georgia, I have no idea what my plans will be next summer. However, I can definitely say that my two experiences at the PRISMA Festival were very different and both extremely educational and rewarding. I owe a lot to Bill Linwood, timpanist of the Victoria Symphony, for his guidance during my two summers at PRISMA and to Maestro Arthur Arnold and the entire PRISMA staff for all they have done to create this world-class orchestral festival.
As always, thank you for reading!! On the immediate horizon, I'm looking forward to spending some time with my cousins in New Mexico for the Fourth of July, some time with my girlfriend for our upcoming 7-year anniversary, and then the 26-hour trek to Georgia at the beginning of August!!