What a conclusion to a season! Had the greatest opportunity to perform and conduct on the Music of Eric Mandat Concert at the International Clarinet Association in Orlando, Florida. Prior to that, I made it as a finalist for the Research Competition with "Croatian Clarinet Concertos: The Cultivation of Tradition after 1952".
I have always learned a lot from attending events like these from either watching different performances, rehearsing, or even just speaking to people. The difficult part about competitions is that it is always subjective and always have to prepare yourself for the results - good or bad. Despite the end result, you always have to dust off your knees and keep going. I am determined to have my project published because I believe so strongly in it. That's something I learned was to continue believing in what you do.
For Eric's concert, I performed I. Portent, which is the first movement of Tricolor Capers. Wesley Ferreira performed the other two movements II. Bop and III. Sway. Here, Mandat uses a lot of the musical material he establishes in the first movement in the other two movements. I also stepped in for another clarinetist who was not able to make it for Ritual, which I performed with Season Cowley. It was a good experience. I never had the chance to really study Eric's music at depth when I studied with him and was really happy to share that with people.
Then we had a chance to perform the first movement of Concert Music For Clarinets - one of Eric's most challenging and demanding works. We did this work at his Tribute Concert in Carbondale, IL. What I've always loved about Eric's music is that even though it is so difficult - it makes sense at the end. There's always something that the listener holds onto when they are experiencing this music. Every time I entertained the thought of composing something, it always ended up in the bin! It was quite the experience and this is where I learned the most as a conductor. There were difficult rehearsals, but we overcame them with the little rehearsal time we had. After one rehearsal, I spent a sleepless night rethinking and problem-solving many of the compound mixed meters in the work that were difficult to conduct, along with the transitions in his work. Despite this, it was a blessing to have this All-Star Team of musicians performing the work!
I am sharing this with you because it is all a process. Yes, our world tells us we have to be perfect from Day 1. Yes, we have to always be on our game. Yes, we must always maintain professionalism, but we are also human. It is normal to feel frustrated and angry when things don't work right away, but that doesn't mean they don't at the end. As musicians, we create the musical environment that surrounds us - no matter how good or bad it sounds.