Greetings, internet folk! I currently have my suitcase open on my bed as I'm packing for the upcoming VMEA Conference this weekend, and I'm trying to decide whether or not to include swim trunks. My gut (which, according to Stephen Colbert, must be correct) tells me yes - you never know where there might be a hot tub, and when one becomes available, you just don't want to miss out on that action. So I've got my swim trunks, my flippy-floppies, my snazzy steppin'-out clothes, my ever-faithful "Trogdor the Burninator" hoodie... I think I'm pretty much ready to rock. Oh, and I now have professional business cards! So I can now walk up to people and say "Here's my card", then be able to follow up on it by whipping out MY ACTUAL CARD. It will be a much classier way of giving out my contact info than scribbling it down on a cocktail napkin with a borrowed pen.
It goes without saying that this is a big weekend for me (but I'm going to talk at length anyway since this is a blog). I get to premiere a new piece at VMEA with the fabulous JFHS Wind Symphony alongside composers T.J. Cross and Samuel Hazo, who will both be conducting their own pieces on the concert. I went to hear the preview concert last night at Lynchburg College, and let me tell you, this band sounds INCREDIBLE. Without exaggeration, it might be the best high school concert band I've ever heard, and I'm not just saying that because I'm an alumnus. For the record, they are the ONLY high school band in the state of Virginia that was selected to perform at VMEA this year, so... they're kind of a big deal. The program they've picked is really outstanding as well, I love the diversity of the selections and the emphasis on contemporary composers. In addition to my pieces and the pieces by T.J. Cross and Samuel Hazo, current JFHS Senior Nathan Moffat will also be premiering a piece at the Conference, so I must give mad props to a fellow up-and-coming young composer. All in all, kudos to David Webb and the band for an excellent performance on Tuesday, and I look forward to seeing the group again on Friday afternoon.
For those of you who are going to be at the VMEA Conference this weekend, the JFHS Wind Symphony will be performing at 3:45pm on Friday in the Marriot Ballroom (this information is on the Events Calendar page of this website, as well on the weekend itinerary on the VMEA website). If you're able to make it out to the performance, I would certainly love to see you there. Now it's time for me to finish packing up and get a good night's sleep, as I have quite a long drive ahead of me tomorrow. With all the fun and excitement that these next few days promise to bring, there's one thing I still need to figure out - when and where to see "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 1" this weekend. After all, there are priorities in life, and Harry Potter is one of them.
Stay tuned for posts and pictures from VMEA after this weekend, there will surely be many stories to tell!
James K. Ballard
A sometimes insightful, hopefully entertaining look into my career and everyday life.