Thursday, April 30, 2015

Greeley, Colorado and the Open Space Festival of New Music

I often enter compositions into competitions. It is one of the only ways to get pieces performed if you don't have your own ensemble or have some affiliation with an educational institution or some such. Dealing with these competitions can be quite tedious and bothersome. I won't even start getting into all of the ways that is so. If I have a piece that fits the criteria or find the reward motivating enough to come up with something new, I go for it. Sometimes there is a cash award. Oftentimes when there is a cash award, there is an entrance fee. The fee is put toward the award. In recent years I have shied away from those set-ups. Very, very occasionally I have a winning entry. This happened recently. "My Head Is Always Down For I No Longer Look For You," won a spot at the Open Space Festival of New Music, put on by the University of Northern Colorado. It took place on February 26 & 27. 

These festivals generally want the winners to be present at the concert. These festivals generally don't provide any funds to help the winners be present at the concert. This was true of the Open Space Festival. I went anyway. I thought it might be fun. It was fun. It was also cold. I was hoping for the side benefit of being able to eat some game. Deer, elk, raccoon. Hell, I would have settled for rabbit. Unfortunately as it turned out, Greeley, Colorado is not the place to have a bear steak or anything like. But I had some crazy meatloaf. That alone made the trip worthwhile. 

The soloist for my piece was Elizabeth Lieffort. She did a marvelous job. The piece was originally composed for solo violin, but that version has never been performed. The version for flute was premiered in Bavaria by Thaddeus Watson. Elizabeth's performance was the U.S. premiere. 

Here are shots from the trip:

Flying out of Beautiful Downtown Burbank.

Somewhere east of the Rockies, heading into Denver.

Mass transit in Greeley. And it is snowing.

This is the music building at the university, but not where the festival was held.

This is the chili burger from the Double Clutch Cafe. There is actually a burger under the toms and cheese. I have to say that it was very tasty.

The Double Clutch Cafe, across the highway from my motel.

Weather on the first night of the festival. 

The warm-up to the meatloaf.

The Double Clutch Cafe meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy. There really are a couple of slices of meatloaf under all of that gravy. And it was pretty tasty.

Some of guest composers, composition students and on the far left, Eric Alexander, one of the festival's co-directors.

This is the Greeley airport. I did not fly into here. I drove here be its restaurant serves a buffalo burger. The restaurant was closed when I got there, which was just as well because nowadays buffalo is not game. 

In case you are lost on the airport grounds, this sign will put you straight.

The tamales were pretty good. I had some issues with the management. I have decided that I don't want to take the time to go into them right now. If you care why they are named "Tamales from Heaven," click here.

On the left is Eric Alexander, co-director; on the right is Juanita Ulloa, co-director and Paul Elwood, founding director of the festival.

Elizabeth, taking a moment before beginning the performance. 

Happy composer and performer after the show. 

This is a special at one of the local eateries - a peanut butter sandwich with bacon. I added cheese, honey and who knows what else. It should have been better than it was. What I really wanted was a hamburger from the Double Clutch Cafe, but a guy's stomach can only hold so much.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Arizona in December

Well, it has been a very long time since I posted anything on this blog. I have really fallen down on the job, but so it goes. Life has been happening just the same. I'll tell you this - I have photos. At the end of December, thanks to the largess of a close friend, I went to Sedona, AZ. Sedona is a special place. Its vistas are enough reason to visit. Beyond that there are the paranormal aspects of the place. All those vortexes. Vortexes are a big business. [see:] This makes my second visit to Sedona. My vortex experience was on my first. Here is the story:

I was driving back from a particularly unpleasant brass quintet tour of New Mexico and Arizona. My driving companion was the trombonist of the group. He had also had trouble with the experience. I won't say what the trouble was other than it was treble clef/three-valve related. Those of you in the know will immediately understand. So we discussed if we would have time to stop in Sedona. We decided to. We hoped to find a vortex. We were both very skeptical. We were both very angry. I mean very angry. The anger is about the three-valve, treble-clefness of the experience we just had. We go for it. We don't have much time. The only vortex we have a chance of finding is the one near the airport. (You can find a picture of it if you scroll to the bottom of this [,_Arizona] Wiki page.) We found the vortex. We spent some time walking around, sitting. I asked him if he felt anything? He didn't. He asked me if I felt anything? I didn't. We hung out some more. When it was time to go, we left. On the road, aabout an hour later, most of that time in silence, I turned to him and said, "You know, I'm not angry anymore." He said, "You know, Bill, I'm not angry anymore either." There you have it. 

Back to December 2014. After Sedona I went to a resort in Peyson, AZ. This is a totally different environment. The Tonto National Forest is there, which is basically pine forest. I didn't stay my full time in Peyson. There was a big snow storm threatening. This is a location of very high elevation, with steep winding two-lane roads. The storm was predicted to hit on the day I was scheduled to descend. I haven't driven in snow, on mountains in decades. I figured it would be best to get my butt out of those hills before the storm hit. That was a shame, because it is beautiful up there. Ultimately, I was there only one night. The final morning, I got up early and took a hike along the Horton Creek Trail. It was an interesting hike. On the way back, I ran into a woman who I'd guess was in her late 60's - early 70's. We had conversation based around the club I was carrying. I carry things when I hike, mostly to let unleashed dogs know not to mess with me. In that area they also have bears and mountain lions. Okay, a club may not be much help with either of those, but I've been around a mountain lion without anything and that was not a good feeling. Turns out this woman was packing. She showed me what she was packing, but I don't know guns, so I can't tell you what it was. Definitely deadly. She had a small dog. She said it had been attacked by pit bulls three times that year on that trail. She was having no more of it. Here is a story she told me: A guy on that trail ran into three unleashed pitt bulls. They came at him. He had a gun. He shot them. The owner came around the bend, saw his dead dogs. He then took out his gun and killed the guy that killed his dogs. The wild west, that is where I live. There is no country like America.


On the road in California.

There are snakes wherever you go. Sometimes they have two legs and talk.

Evening light in Sedona.

An evening walk.

Transportation can be old school.

There are ice crystals on these plants. It is very early in the morning and very cold.

Wildlife. Coyote tracks.

My friends Lonnie and Renée, who live in an even smaller town down the mountain.


Again, very early in the morning and very cold.

I went past Horton Spring, but not to Forest Road. I wanted to be well on my way home before dark and the snow.

There had been a major fire up here a few years earlier.

The white spots are ice crystals.


This is around where I ran into the woman with the gun.

The evening sky on the way home. Interstate 10, still in Arizona.