Performances 18 and 19 – A Bird Ballet and a School Play

For the remainder of these posts, I’ve elected to keep them short and sweet. This is mostly because Life has been remarkably busy the last few months, and will continue this way until after Midwest. Consequently, I won’t have as much time to focus on writing articles until January. ( Sometimes Composing and Teaching are full-time jobs in and of themselves, let alone combining the two, as has been the case lately.)

The 18th performance that I attended was Swan Lake which was put on by the Metropolitan Ballet, on October 29th.

This was only the second Ballet I’ve ever seen, if you count the Nutcracker performance I got to see 10 years ago put on by the same company. Overall, I quite enjoyed it. My favorite scenes were those with the chorus of swans as it was magical to watch when coupled with the costumes and lighting. I learned a lot by watching the choreography in real time along with the music. Perhaps someday I’ll compose a ballet! I may ned to see a few more first though, before I attempt this endeavor.

Thank you to one of my lesson parents who thought of me and passed on the tickets when they could not attend as planned!

The second performance, ( #19) I’ll mention in this post was the Orono High School Production of BrightStar, the musical on November 19th. I was invited by one of my students as it was her first musical performance, and I wanted to support her. I had my reservations, as it was a high school play, and casting is not usually the best from past experiences, but boy was it a delight to watch! What impressed me the most was the stage direction and the level of participation by all members of the cast and crew. Members of the ensemble were used in just about every scene and they participated in much of the action and scene setup. Kudos to whoever was in charge of stage direction and choreography. All of the students put earnest effort into their acting and singing, and not a bored-looking person, or unconvincing line delivery on stage was found!

Performances 16 & 17- Lake Wobegone Brass Band & Northern Symphony Orchestra 10/14

For the remainder of these posts, I’ve elected to keep them short and sweet. This is mostly because Life has been remarkably busy the last few months, and will continue this way until after Midwest. Consequently, I won’t have as much time to focus on writing articles until January. ( Sometimes Composing and Teaching are full-time jobs in and of themselves, let alone combining the two, as has been the case lately.)

In the First half of October, I was able to see 2 concerts in Anoka MN, aka, the Halloween Capital of the World.

I planned to attend the First concert on 10/7 after seeing a Facebook post from my Friend Heidi, who happens to play horn in the band. Additionally, I have been waiting to see the Lake Wobegone Brass Band since moving to MN, as they have garnered quite a reputation for being excellent. Unfortunately, every opportunity I’ve had to hear them before this was prevented by life getting in the way, as well as a global pandemic. Was the wait worth it though?


This band had amazing dynamic control and a wonderful blend. I could tell that the band is composed of some incredibly accomplished musicians and that they have been playing together for such a long time that they could almost read each other musically during the performance. There were some goosebump worthy moments. My favorite piece though was the ending. They consluded with an arrangement of Macarthur Park which left me singing the lyrics to Jurassic Park, the parody by Weird Al in the parking lot. Maynard Furgason ( or at least his spirit) paid a visit as well, in the form of the Coronet player who nailed those high notes!

At the end of their concert, they shared about a performance that was happening the following weekend that included the conductor and several Brass Band Members, so my S.O. and I decided to attend.

Performance 18 was on 10/14 and was given by the Northern Symphony Orchestra at Anoka High School. Although this one wasn’t as exciting musically for me as the brass band concert, It was still a worthwhile experience. I think that was beacuse all of the composers, although they made an attempt to be inclusive which I appreciate, were long dead. The first half was a bit homogonous in timbre which, as a listener , felt draining . Perhapse placing the Debussy Petite Suite after Fanny Mendellson’s Overature in C Major and opening the second half with Joseph Balogne’s Symphony No.1 in G would have remedied this. However, it was worth the wait to hear the group perform Appalachain Spring by Aaron Copland at the End. The group was definately more awake by the end of the concert!

Performances 13, 14 & 15- At the MN state Fair 9/2/2023

Ah, The Fair! A perfect place to pay money just to go spend lots more money and eat lots and lots of usually fried food on a stick. What a time!

It’s also a great place to hear a lot of music.

The first performance that I will mention is a Rock Band/ artist Colin BraceWell at the MPR booth. They mostly played originals ( except for one mellow, but well done cover of Little Red Corvette by Prince) and their music and sound reminded me of some of the music from the late 90’s and early 2000’s that was playing on the radio at the time.

Two things impressed me about their performance. First of all, The instrumentalist did not stick to just one dedicated instrument. The musicians switched it around for a few tunes. At one point, I believe the trumpet player was playing the bass. On a side note, I really enjoyed listening to the counter melodies that their trumpet player was playing.Perhaps I have not seen enough live bands, but from what I can tell, this is not always the case.

Secondly, a string on the lead singer’s Electric guitar broke mid-set and instead of letting it ruin the performance, they seamlessly transitioned to using the acoustic by connecting it to a pedal to give it an electric feel. Although you could tell this was not planned, the band concluded the remainder of their set seemingly unphased.

The Second performance I will talk about is by the Bands at the daily parade that happens at The Fair. This parade is massive and takes at least 45 minutes to complete. Several community and high school bands from around the state arrive just to perform in this spectical which has them dodging impatient people who look for a gap to cross the street to cow piles in 90 degree heat. I got to hear a variety of music from 1960’s-70’s marching band renditions of classic rock and folk, to steel drums and traditional DCI style drum lines.

Thirdly our day concluded upon a happenstance performance of the HMS Pinnafore by The Gilbert and Sullivan Very Light Opera Company. We did not intend to see this group. They just happened to be performing by the History building and I recognized the music from The Simpsons, so I got excited and made my S.O. watch with me.

This group did a fantastic job with the entire opera, but the hightlight was during a duet piece where this oblivious couple walked right through the stage while a duet was occurring.

The DEATH GLARE from the perofmers was Spectacular and I still say that that coupole DESERVED to be made part of the performance!

Overall, I had a great time at the Great Missesota Get together ( aka the great minnesota Eat together) and got to hear a lot of music too!

If you were there at anytime during the two weeks, , please leave a comment and tell me what your favorite performance was that you saw.

Performance 12- A Brass Quintet of Friends and Colleagues at a Friend’s/ Colleagues wedding 8/23/2023

I’m attending 25 Live Performances by the end of 2023!

This report was unexpected, but I am choosing to count it, mainly because it was a chance to support my colleagues in more ways than just attending a performance, and because there was a full-on performance of sorts at this wedding.

The friend that got married was Gavin Carney, a fantastic trombonist /fellow nerd/all-around great human who started teaching next door to me at the studio and sort of adopted me as his Friday morning duet partner sometime in 2022. Practicing with him has made me a better player and I’m glad that the universe introduced us. His now-wife, Taylor is pretty fantastic too!

The Friends and colleagues in the quintet were Lauren Husting – Bass Trombone ( I know her from Brass Chix stuff and running into her in the wild on Trombone) Lara Dietrich- Tenor Trombone (A friend/ colleague who gave me the chance to teach at Maestoso Music Studio, which she owns!), Ally Partin- French Horn ( I know her form Brass Chix and runnings out in the wild) Derek Thorsteinsson- Trumpet( Colleague at Maestoso and a great person to talk to in between waiting for students, and Gerard Ahlgren- Trumpet( I used to work with him at Maestoso and he’s a great player too )

They played a variety of pieces to add to the ambiance from your wedding standards ( classical/ rennaisaince brass mixes) to the unusual- I remember hearing Oh Shenendoah with some Juicy harmonies and modulations that stuck out from the usual fare. If this was not a musicians wedding, I’m not sure we would have heard this arrangement, but given the crowd, the variety was welcome. They also performed the entirety of Ralph Vaughn Williams Folk Song suite, which I happily hummed along to.

The highlight of the performance was a premiere from my colleague John Proper ( Last name is Pronounced like you would pronounce the “pro” in Professional because I believe he’s on his way to becoming a Pro!)

He wrote a suite based on a melody and variations for Gavin and Taylor as a surprise. It was well-structured and turned out marvelous!

Overall, I enjoyed the music and, although I didn’t expect anything less from Gavin, I’m glad they hired live musicians for both the ceremony and reception. It was totally worth it!

Congratulations to Gavin and Taylor on a beautiful wedding, to JP on the premiere, and to my friends and colleagues on a great/ successful performance. I hope you all get more gigs.

Performance 11 – Vanguard New Music Series –  A Musical Field Guide to Minnesota Wildflowers – Plumeria Winds and Reed⁵ (8/18/2023)

I’m attending 25 Live Performances by the end of 2023!

Back in late May, I was invited by my Fellow Twin Cites colleague, Jonathan Postuma, to compose an original work for Woodwind Trio, OR Sextet. Being the overachiever I can sometimes be, I composed a piece for both Woodwind trios AND combined Sextet, which became Not a Flower Suite. Thanks to this invitation, I was able to witness this colorful smorgasbord of Woodwind Trios and Sextets proficiently played by Reed ^5 and Plumeria Winds.

As Jonathan was the primary composer, most of the program was arranged to include his newest Flower-themed pieces. He has been composing “A Musical Field Guide to Minnesota Wildflowers” for quite some time and the program had a rich bouquet of his works. The pieces were richly varied and luckily I had a pencil to write down some thoughts.

The first collection was Trio No. 5 for Oboe, Clarinet, and Bassoon

“Forget Me not”- I love the conversations between the Oboe and Clrinet!

“Spring Beauty”-Playful but relaxing to listen to

“Virginia Bluebell”-Very different charachter than the last

“Virginia Waterleaf”- Those are some TASTY Bassoon lines!

The second collection was Trio No. 6 for Oboe, Clarinet, and Bassoon

“Hoary Vervian”- It was fun watching the Clarinet and Oboe non-verbally taunte each other. 🙂

“Showy Goldenrod” and/ or ” Purple Coneflower” (I’m not sure which this comment went to) – This piece reminds me of Zelda Oracle of Seasons

“Fragrant Giant Hyssop”- GREAT eye contact betwen the Players

The third was Trio no. 9 for Oboe Soprano Saxophone and Bassoon

The pieces were ” Marsh Marigold”, “Carolina Puccoon”, “Swamp Buttercup”, and “Golden Alexanders”. According to my notes this suite was very Yellow and I would love to see a slideshow with all of the accompanying flowers in the background if it’s performed again, or see it published in a guide with QR codes leading to a recording of the accompanying piece.

The fourth suite was “Trio no. 11 for Oboe, Tenor Saxophone, and Bassoon.

I enjoyed the Stravinski-esque textures in these pieces as well as the expertly executed use of extended techniques by the performers.

Bravo Jonathan! I would love to see a slideshow with all of the accompanying flowers in the background if it’s performed again, or see it published in a guide with QR codes leading to a recording of the accompanying piece.

My piece was Number 5. I felt that my piece was overall performed well and both trios seemed to be having fun, which is a win in my book.

Jared Coffin’s piece, Pulling up Dinosaurs, was next and made use of the type of extended techniques that reminded me of geysers slowly bubbling underneath the surface of the earth with their gas seeping out of the ground before a massive explosion. The piece was called Pulling up Dinosaurs and sounded just like a scene from Jurrassic Park to my ears. Jared did a fantastic job creating an atmosphere to be experienced and transporting us out of the concert hall.

The concert ended with thie GORGEOUS piece composed by Elizabeth King that combined the trios into a sextet. Emily’s beautiful melodies brought the hues of emerald green into my mind’s eye and reminded me of walking through an enchanted forest. This piece was Beautiful and the blend of the performers made it even more so!

Plumeria Winds includes Rachel Messing- oboe, Caitlin Beare- clarinet, and Scott Pool- bassoon.

Reed^5 includes Susan Miranda- oboe, Brian Handeland-saxophone, and Cody Hunter-bassoon.

Performances 8, 9 & 10 Bardic Circles and Pennsic Mayhem (8/2-8/11/2023)

I’m attending 25 Live Performances by the end of 2023!

This Summer marked the 50th year that the Pennsic war took place. What is Pennsic you ask? Well what it is, is a 2 week long camping event held by the S.C.A. where things like fully armored battles, classses in anything you can think of related to the middle ages (and ancient Rome) from the arts to history, merchants specializing in hand making and selling long forgotten crafts, performances, food, and the sharing of home brewed adult beverages happen on a daily, almost nonstop basis. I heard someone on TikTok refer to it as the Cochella of medieval enthusiests and, well, they’re not far off.

Although I went to far more performances,as I was surrounded by music and dancing, I limited this report to three distinct catagories of performance:

  1. Bardic Circles
  2. Highlights of campfire-centric music and dancing
  3. Stage performances
A hilarious sheet wall outside of one of the Camps at Pennsic.

1) Bardic Circles

One of the delights of playing a bard in the SCA is that you get to attend bardic circles. Some are announced publicly and some are invitation only. They may be themed ( as in sea shanty or songs existing in a certain time period only) or free form/ anything goes!

They are a chance for us to share stories and songs with other bards , and those who wish to listen for some entertainment.

By attending these you get to hear all sorts of talent around the kingdoms of the known world. This ranges from Storytelling (think engaging renditions of Norse folktales and King aArthur told by a human in a way the stories were originally meant to be shared and passed down, to funny :” no $#!% there I was anectdotes from Pennsics Past) and Filks ( parodies of existing music) – my favorite! to some absolutely gorgeous renditions of early folk music.

2) Highlights of campfire-centric music and dancing

One of the other adventures one can have at Pennsic is walking around to the varous encampments at night and witnessing all sorts of informal performances. Throug this practice, I saw some incredibly impressive fire dancing, drum circles, witnessed and all out middle eastern music jam session materialize in fromt of my eyes and ears at the Lost Boys encampment, and, through tagging along with some other bards, some soothing entertainment at a few smaller campfires. One particular experience ended at 3am with a bard performing an acoustic rendition of ” Buggar Off” to end the night!

3) Stage Performances

In addion to all of the ambient music happening around me, there were some formal scheduled performances as well.

One of the perofrmances I witnessed under the official performance tent was from a well seasoned bard in the Performing Arts Tent ( I wish I could remember his name!).

He sang some gentle tunes, and told some stories, and even invited who I think was a former apprentice and/or great friend on stage where they harmonized beautifully on a few tunes. She was fantastic as well!

My favorite song from this performance was Juniper, Gentle, and Rosemary. This song is on my list to learn for next year thanks to this bard exposing my ears!

To conclude this post, Please enjoy this rendition of Erutan’s the Wilow Maid, performed with a couple of very talented Bards I met in these excursions, named Ainsley (Main vocals and lyre) and Gryphon ( lute?) at 3 am one Pennsic morning! I Harmonized 🙂

Cover of The Willow Maid by Erutan, Performed by Ainsley, Eleri, and Gryphon at Pennsic L

Prerformances 6& 7- She Rock She Rock Showcases (7/14 and 7/21/2023)

I’m attending 25 Live Performances by the end of 2023!

Those that are subscribed to my newsletter know that I taught aspring young musicians at the She Rock She Rock Camp this summer, and had one of the most fun times of my life.

Photo by Matheus Bertelli on

I was one of the Keyboard instructors and also got to help co coach a band during the second ( Teen ) week.

In the week that each of the groups were at camp, we prepared them to be able to play cover songs with each other, and they were each assigned a band to be in. At the end of the week, each band premiered a BRAND NEW ORGINAL song that they created together, at the downtown VFW.

While I am having trouble recallig many specific songs (admittedly I didn’t get to this post right away as I meant to…oopse!) , I do remember eperiencing the joy and excitement on each of the camper’s faces as they got on stage for the first time and Rocked out in front of an audience. There was a wide variety of styles from a hard rock song about Randomness that was…. totally random, blending Emotional goth, Jazz and punk styles, to outright Rock Anthems. Some of the songs were so good that you might not believe that they came from kids as young as 9 -16 years old!

For me, the most rewarding experience from the performances was seeing some of the kids who came in unsure of themselves for one reason or another, finishing up camp enjoying themselves, confidently rocking out and making music!

You can learn more about She Rock She Rock by visiting

Performance 5 Film Score Fest ( 6/10/2023)

I’m attending 25 Live Performances by the end of 2023!

Since 2017, I have mostly had the opportunity to attend Film Score Fest as a participant. However, this year was different, as I was a spectator!

Film score fest is this special event hosted by MnKino where composers and film makers are paired together to make a film based on a theme that is assigned to all of the filmmakers. The thing that makes this event extra unique is that the film and score premier with a LIVE orchestra playing the music!

There were a total of 16 films, each with a unique visual style and equally unique scores.

As a member of the Minneapolis Music Scene, I recognized several of the orchestra players and had a blast saying “Hi, I know you!” to most of them. I also had fun supporting my colleagues and not having the anticipation of waiting for the film I composed the music to come on screen, so it was easier to enjoy all of the films this time around.

A few film scores really caught my attention. Radience, composed by Mitchel Dietz was gorgeous and the film by Chris Lange only Amplified how beautiful it was with the film’s colorful visuals. Ken Takata provided one of the most unique takes on a film score that I have witnessed yet on a mostly standstill film, Macbeth (5.5.22) by Tatjana Dankovic. He improvised a distal, yet pleasant score on the piano as the film played, displaying nighttime images of the city and text.

Although I appreciated each film and score, my favorite combination had to be the last film, Little Godzilla. Emily Boyajian’s score complimented Kat Aymeloglu’s film flawlessly and it was SUPER ADORABLE!!!!

If you want to see the livestream playback, you can catch it here:

Performances 3 & 4 at the MMTA Convention (6/11-6/13/2023)

I’m attending 25 performances by the end of 2023!

As this was a convention full of music teachers, there were plenty of opportunities to attend some performances.

For this report, I want to focus on 2 student performances that were memorable from the weekend.

The first came from the Music Bridges participants. Music Bridges is a program where students pick a theme that interests them and prepare 2-to 3 pieces of standard repertoire to perform. It is a nongraded performance, but gives the students an opportunity to share their creativity and music making, as well as get some performance experience in a less stressful way than a contest or formal recital.

The first performer looked to be in elementary school. She picked Movement as her theme and performed 3 pieces. I think one was titled Kangaroo Jump. She’s also an ice skater and dancer, so she showed a video of her skating to music and choreographed a dance to The Beatles “Twist and Shout” that she shared with us at the end.

The next was a girl close to graduating high school who picked the composer Aram Khachaturian. Before her report and performance, I only knew him for The Sabre dance due to it being played at Buffalo Sabres Hockey games growing up. She shared some wonderful waltzes as well as a duet with her brother. For the creative part, she reported on his history as a perceived “Soviet” composer and shared a photo that she recolored by hand to better reflect Khachaturian’s true nationality and political beliefs. She clearly took hours on this project alone. and played beautifully all the way through.

The second performance came from the guitar showcase.

Although most of the presentation was talking about the MMTA guitar cirriculum that they offer, there was a performance from a young student, probably only 11 or 12 by their appearance. This student came in from Wisconsin to perform for us. What inpressed me the most was how determined and focused he was during his performance, and it was a treat to hear him as well.

They ended the showcase with a trio of Latin American music shared between the student, teacher, and presenter. It’s not every day that you get to hear a guitar ensemble, let alone one that was clearly having fun in the moment of reading and performing this piece for us!

My only regret from the convention is that I forgot to write down the performer’s names in my program as I was too busy listening and enjoying their art. If they see this blog post someday, I hope they can smile at the fact that they brought me joy from listening to them and that I hope they continue making music for the love of it!

Performance 2 – Lady Band ( 6/3/2023)

I’m attending 25 performances by the end of 2023!

The Second Performance that I attended was because I had the privilege of performing in the Stravinsky Octet with this newly formed group, Lady Band.

However, as the rules are that the majority of the performance had to be given by someone else, I will count this.

This Concert was unique and rather intimate, as we were packed into Violet Wine Winery. Despite feeling a bit overwhelmed due to the tiny space and crowding from people, I soon felt more at ease as the first notes were played by the mini chamber ensembles in this group. Although I did not partake, the winery had wines and vodka paired with each of the pieces which added to the ambiance.

The First piece was a Woodwind Quintet titled Composition en Rouge, Bleu et Jaune by Tawnie Olson. This piece Transported me to a blue city scape and played with . I especially enjoyed the Timbre of all of the voices in unision rhythm toward the ending, as well as the playful, bouncy motif that occured a few times in the piece. The musicians appeared to be enjoying those moments as well.

The Second Piece, N.A.L.A. by Andrea Tarodi was my favorite of the program. The beginning especially reminded me of Gustav Holst’s The Planets with the harp and flute colors. The ostinato reminded me of Saturn, while the timbres and melodies were remeniscant of Neptune and Venus in my opinion. It was played Beautifully as well ! This piece soothed me from the claustrophobia I was beginning to experience just in time to perform the octet.

Overall, it was a nice concert, and the intimacy and atmosphere of the winery added to the experience, but I was definitely glad to be out of that cramped space!