It's winter break now and I've successfully completed my first semester of grad school! As I reflect on these past five months and prepare for the New Year, I figured it was long overdue to finally post about my experiences in grad school thus far. So, that being said, here is my attempt to summarize everything that has happened since my last website update back in June...
The 2,000-Mile Journey to Athens, GA
At the end of July, I rented a 16-foot truck and towing rig and drove across the country from Tucson to Athens. With short overnight stops in New Mexico and Houston, I made it to Georgia in 2.5 days. Even though Holly was a wonderful co-pilot and the trip had its fun moments, I certainly do not foresee myself making that drive again anytime in the near future. It was exhausting!!
Graduate Teaching Assistantship
As I pursue my Master of Music in Percussion Performance, I am lucky to be fully-funded by a graduate teaching assistantship from UGA's Hugh Hodgson School of Music. I am one of three GTA's in the Percussion Department and my role is defined by three main roles/titles:
I have one applied student, a undergraduate percussion minor, and I give her weekly timpani and snare drum lessons. I've been kept busy with other miscellaneous duties for the percussion studio, from organizing recruitment clinics to local high schools and filming/editing endorsement videos for Mr. Adams to designing and distributing posters for Percussion Ensemble concerts (you can check out some of my original poster designs here: POSTERS)
As the Percussion Coordinator of the UGA Bands, I perform as a member of the Hodgson Wind Ensemble and help design stage diagrams and make assignments for the percussion section.
My largest responsibility of the semester, however, was definitely "MidFest" which took place from December 6 - 9. This annual event hosted by UGA is a three-day event for middle school band musicians. Typical festival attendance is 1,000 students from approximately 130 schools. My job was to oversee every aspect related to percussion for the entire event.
All of this, in addition to coordinating stage changes for each band, overseeing 10 percussion workers, assigning equipment, scanning sheet music, and more, it took nearly two months of consistent emails and planning to make sure everything ran smoothly in December!!
Next up: JanFest 2018 (the high school version of the same event which takes place from January 18-21. My duties are virtually the same, but it is one day longer and, due to the more advanced music, the instrument requirements are even more involved!)
1st Place: UGA Concerto Competitions
This November and December, I participated in both the UGA Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition and the UGA Hugh Hodgson Wind Ensemble Concerto Competition. I am happy to announce that I was actually selected as a winner of both competitions! However, per the rules of the competitions, I can only solo with one of the ensembles in the Spring.
Therefore, I have chosen to perform the wind ensemble arrangement of Emmanuel Sejourne's Concerto for Marimba and Strings at the JanFest concert on January 19th. I have been fortunate to have performed the Sejourne concerto with many string orchestras, but this will be my first time performing the piece with a wind ensemble!! I am very excited for this opportunity! Be sure to check my EVENTS PAGE for updated information about the event!
The bulk of my practice time this semester was spent studying the orchestral repertoire with my teachers and mentors, Mr. Adams and Ms. Toscano, and preparing the audition music for various orchestral percussion and timpani auditions. Having never auditioned professionally outside of the state of Arizona, this past semester was an important learning experience for me as I participated in three professional timpani auditions and one professional percussion audition. In the short period of five weeks I traveled to four different cities, taking all of the following auditions:
Concerts and Performances
I was fortunate to perform on over-a-dozen different concerts this semester, including several professional gigs and even my official premiere as a composer!
As a member of the UGA Percussion Ensemble, I performed two concerts, playing in a trio alongside the other graduate percussion students. For our first concert, we performed an entirely self-composed/improvised recital where I wrote a piece for two bass drums, electronic accompaniment, and a lamp. The piece, based on a painting by Miles Davis, was performed in complete darkness, with the lamp flickering on and off throughout the composition.
I was ecstatic to perform once again with the Louisiana Philharmonic alongside my good friend, Jacob Powers. We performed three runout Christmas Concerts conducted by Stuart Chafetz, former principal timpanist of the Honolulu Symphony. It is always fun to explore the wonderful city of New Orleans. I had some great food and got to experience my first New Orleans street parade!!
Best of all, however, was my final concert of the semester: performing a Christmas church gig at Athens First Methodist alongside my teacher and mentor, Mr. Adams. This was my first time seeing Mr. Adams perform timpani from the back of an ensemble and I am so honored that I was able to witness the experience alongside him onstage!! I have performed with him in the past, but never with him playing timpani. I will always be grateful for this experience!
Travel and Family Time
For all the time that I wasn't traveling, however, I was happy to spend time with my other " percussion family" here in Athens. I love being back here at the University of Georgia surrounded by such caring and thoughtful friends, teachers, and colleagues. I appreciate their constant support, especially in the moments when I am missing my family most.
As mentioned above, be sure to check out my EVENTS page for information regarding my featured marimba concerto performance with the Hodgson Wind Ensemble on January 19th!
In January, I will be auditioning for the New Jersey Symphony and the President's Own Marine Band in D.C.
My preparations for JanFest 2018 have already begun, and I hope to get much of the legwork done before I leave for New Jersey on the 4th of January! I expect it to be another busy semester, but I am excited for everything that awaits in 2018!
I am still teaching regularly via Skype and many of my students have some important auditions coming up in the New Year. Stay tuned for another update in January featuring some of the recent accomplishments of my extraordinary students!
As always, thank you for taking the time to stay connected and for supporting me through all my musical endeavors. I hope you have a wonderful New Year and I send you all my best wishes for a special 2018!