Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Juneteenth, Julius Eastman and Wild Up!

Sunday, June 19th was Juneteenth. It is getting to be a big holiday all over the country now. For black musicians it is very much like the Month of My People - February. All of a sudden we are working. I had one job, with the Afro-American Chamber Music Society Orchestra (what a mouthful) that got canceled. I won't say why. Actually, I don't really  know why. Just very informed rumors. Then at close to the last minute, I got asked to participate in a performance of Julius Eastman's "Buddha." This was the first time that I've performed a work by Eastman. That tells you something about his place in the world. And mine. Fortunately, these days he is starting to get the attention he deserves. But he is dead, so it doesn't help him much. A lot of people have worked and are working hard to bring about this late recognition. The group that invited me to play is Wild Up, one of Los Angeles' premiere chamber music ensembles that specializes in new music. They have released two recordings of Eastman's music. This performance was a celebration of the release of the second recording. The show wasn't billed as a Juneteenth performance per se, but hey, it was Juneteenth, it was Julius Eastman...I can't believe it was a coincidence. It was TWELVE hours long! The sections I played in lasted only about five hours. That was five hours of nearly continuous playing. It was glorious! Thanks to the inimitable Patrick Shiroishi for recommending me.

Remember, you can get the Juneteenth spirit any day by downloading my eponymous solo tuba tune from Bandcamp.  

Some photos from the performance. Thanks to Wild Up and 2220 Arts + Archives

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