November 2015 was a month filled with lots of diverse and intense musical activities. It started on October 31 – Halloween – with a concert by ROCdrummers at the David F, Gantt Community Center in Rochester, NY. It was the first-ever performance by the after school drum ensemble comprised of public school students. The kids certainly rose to the occasion with a solid performance of our version of “Damba” that was punctuated with ear-to-ear smiles, both from the players and their parents in the audience.
On Sunday November 1 Ruth and I drove to Ithaca College (about 1-1/2-hours) to hear a senior recital by one of Ruth’s former students, Tom Smith, who was completing four years of study with Conrad Alexander and Gordon Stout. It was a beautiful day and on the drive to Ithaca along Cayuga Lake we made a brief visit to Taughannock Falls State Park and hiked along some of the trails. We had only visited the lower falls in the past, but this time we drove further up the hill to discover that the upper falls was almost as high again as the lower falls, and that there were several more cascades above the upper falls.
Tom’s afternoon recital at Ithaca College was presented with the audience of about 50 or 60 listeners sitting on the stage at Ford Hall. The recital opened with a multi-perc duet, “Wildlings” by Ivan Trevino, a former student of mine at Eastman who is now becoming widely recognized for his compositions. After the recital’s last piece, “Green Chimneys” by Thelonious Monk, with Tom on jazz drum set, there was a very nice reception for all of the recital attendees.
On the evening of Thursday November 5th I drove over to the University of Rochester’s main campus to hear a recital by Eastman School percussionists in the Fine Arts building on Wilson Boulevard. As part of an entrepreneurial program called, “Sound ExChange,” which is comprised of a flexible team of core young musicians who are dedicated to exploring alternative ways of presenting and creating concerts. The project was recently recognized for innovation as the winner of Eastman School of Music’s New Venture Challenge and a two-time winner at the New York State Business Plan Competition. It was founded in 2011 by Eastman students who function in a variety of roles—as performers, composers, producers, curators, and educators.
The performance was organized by Nicole Joshi, who was a student in my studio during the spring 2015 semester at the Eastman School. The program consisted of four pieces for percussion quartet, with each piece set up in a different location in the building. The audience moved along with the performers between pieces to the next location. There were exhibitions of photography and art at each location. The performances were presented very well and the audience, though small (25?), was appreciative.