Fresh Inc 2013: Day 5 Recap


Day 5 at the festival was no less exciting than days 1-4!  The instrumentalists spent the morning in the rehearsal room, and the composers spent the morning in forums.  And some participants were even able to squeeze in a lesson!

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After lunch, we loaded up our cars, and we headed to Racine for a performance at the Racine Art Museum.  We had 90 minutes to play, so we had a great time selecting pieces to fill the time, and we heard to amazing performances!  I think the highlight of the evening was percussionist Chris Sies starting the program off with an extremely loud strike on the snare drum that inadvertently startled a number of people, who then poured out of the office and galleries to be mesmerized.





We have one more day to recap until our day off!  Stay tuned for our Saturday update!



Fresh Inc 2013: Day 4 Recap

Day four of the 2013 festival was our first heavy rehearsal day.  Over the course of the day, 22 pieces rehearsed!  We’re starting to get into second rehearsals for pieces, so composers have started attending rehearsals of their pieces so that they can do some coaching and assisting.  I got to sneak into a couple of rehearsals, and it was really cool to see everyone in action, and the excitement on the faces of composers hearing their pieces played for the first time!

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I snuck past a few practice rooms to peek in on some practicing.  Man, did we hit the jackpot of awesomeness with our participants this year!

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We took a little bit of time out of our rehearsing to attend one workshop on day 4 about fundraising!  This insightful workshop started out with a flash mob performing David Lang’s Pay Me Now, which is being rehearsed at the festival!  Then, Kevin Clark, composer and New Music USA communications manager, phoned in via Skype to talk about one of his particular areas of expertise: crowd funding.  And Melissa, Stacy, and Dan all contributed information about grants, individual giving, coporate giving, and more.  I can definitely say that our participants got a LOT out of this workshop, and I think this one has had the most questions thus far!

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While our instrumentalists are rehearsing, the composers are attending forums and presentations and having private lessons with Stacy and Dan.  On day 4, I stopped by the composer forum to see a little bit of festival harpist Jennifer Ellis explaining the inner workings of a harp, giving some pointers on writing for harp, and demonstrating some of the tricks harpists have up their sleeves!

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After dinner, we had our first participant salon night!  We heard some pretty amazing stuff, including a bassoon sonata, a trumpet solo with audio, JacobTVs The Body Of Your Dreams, self compositions, a piece from a contemporary opera, and more!

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And if that wasn’t enough, the night ended with some of our participants having a crazy awesome jam session!  Never have I ever heard harp, piano, sax, electric guitar, a drum set, a double bass, and a viola all jamming at one time, but I’d definitely listen to that again any day!  Be sure to check back tomorrow!  Day 5 includes a trip the Racine Art Museum for the second performance of the festival!

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Day three of the festival started off on a hilarious and educational note!  (HA!  See what I did there?)


Our first workshop of the day was a rehearsal technique and and rehearsal coaching workshop.  Jenny and Crystal spent the first half of the workshop demonstrating and talking about ways to work through some issues that might arise, as well as various rehearsal techniques.  They also filled everyone in on 5HE’s tardiness policy: when you’re late to rehearsal, the next time you rehearse, you have to bring your ensemble members coffee.


The second half of the workshop, composers in residence Stacy and Dan lead a rehearsal coaching workshop; they demonstrated do’s and don’t’s for composers coaching ensembles in rehearsal.  Their portion started with Dan demonstrating multiple things a composer should not do when coaching, and then Stacy demonstrated what to do.  While preparing for this workshop, most faculty members could be heard calling this the Goofus and Gallant rehearsal workshop. Fifth House Ensemble members stayed in the rehearsal room and had a rehearsal for Stacy Garrop’s Frammenti, which they will perform at the Saturday, June 22 final performance at Nichols Hall in Evanston.


Before lunch, Nancy Bieshcke of Cedille Records stopped by to give a workshop on recording contracts.  She talked about some of the multiple ways artists might go about recording an album and also pointed out that there is no text book way to do it.




After some more rehearsals in the afternoon, Herine led a resume, bio writing, and interview skills workshop, complete with demonstrations of both a horrible and awful interview with help from Drew and Clark.  I think the best part of the demonstrations was when Herine asked each of them to teach her how to hold a bow.  Drew, the bad interviewer, thrust the bow into her hand and bossed her around like a surly teenager, and Clark’s instructed Herine by having her make a bunny with her fingers.  It was awesomely adorable.


In the afternoon, Drew and Chris stopped by the composers forum for some demonstrations.  Drew talked about writing for young violinists, and Chris gave some demonstrations and explanations about various percussion instruments, sticks & mallets, and techniques.


We finished the evening off with some more rehearsals and a relatively early night.  Well, the schedule ended early, but I heard some pretty awesome practicing going on while walking through the music building at the end of the day.  On Day 4 we have our first participant salon night!  Pretty excited!!


Fresh Inc 2013: Day 2 Recap


We had a pretty amazing first day, but man, day 2 topped day 1!


After waking up to beautiful sunshine, we started the day off today with an education workshop led by Crystal and Eric.  With a little help from Drew, they explained the different kinds of education and outreach programs we lead, and  even demonstrated some of the activities we lead in education performances!  My favorite activity that they demonstrated involved a jump rope & the speed of its twirl and how that correlated with the tempo of the music.  Festival composer Nick Baskin help Crystal twirl the jump rope beautifully while Drew & Eric played along with the tempo.


After our education workshop, we loaded a bus for our first off site performance!  We headed to Milwaukee and our performing participants left us awestruck with their performances, accompanied by the stunning back drop of the Milwaukee coast of Lake Michigan.  Performances today featured festival participants Danielle Simandl, Rita Andrade, Matt Kline, Rachael Eid-Ries, Jennifer Ellis, Jonathan Hulting-Cohen, Elmyn Johnson, and Jabez Co.  What made this performance even more exciting is that in addition to hearing instrumentalists perform, some composers also had the opportunity to perform on their primary instrument.


Once the performance was finished, we loaded the bus, headed back to campus, and Melissa & Jenny presented our Arts Start Up workshop, complete with an activity that involved crayons and an assignment for our participants.


We had time to squeeze in a rehearsal block this afternoon and a couple of composition lessons before dinner, and this evening, we rounded out the day with a workshop about budgeting with Melissa, Stacy, and Dan.


I heard through the grape vine some of our musicians were planning on rehearsing tonight, so the day isn’t quite done for all of us!  Tomorrow night we end with our first participant led salon!


WOW!  I can’t believe it!  After months and months of planning, lots of staff meetings, and even more emails, the 2013 fresh inc festival has started!  On Sunday, participants from across the country traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin to start the epic journey that is this festival!  After finding their way through the maze that gets you from the dining hall to the music building and back, we all ate dinner, everyone very patiently listened to me give them more information than any one human should have to absorb in an hour, we introduced ourselves, and then we had s’mores!  For those of you who don’t know, s’mores are a tradition for us, and we would have been outside roasting mallows in the pouring down rain if we had to (and if that were possible…)!


After what was hopefully a good night sleep for everyone, we awoke to a foggy morning for Day 1 of the festival!  But despite the limited visibility across campus, our participants dove right into the day with their eyes wide open!  Here’s a little of what we were up to today:

First, we started with auditions.  This festival includes THREE performances for which participants (composers and instrumentalists) can audition to perform!  Karl and Jenny sat through hours of auditions today, and had the extremely difficult, but very exciting task, of programming these concerts.


We took a break in the middle of auditions to have a Skype session with composer JacobTV.  He talked about the influence of pop culture on his music, his experience with copyright issues, dealing angry music lovers turned bloggers, and the opera he’s writing!  The biggest take away from his workshop for our composers is that JacobTV got his big break by writing for accordion!  He found that writing for rare instruments meant his pieces got played, and therefore people started seeking him out to write music for them.  Lesson learned: WRITE MUSIC FOR VIOLA AND BASS!


In between more auditions, we managed to squeeze in a couple of composer presentations.  Composers in residence Stacy Garrop and Dan Visconti each presented some of their works to the composers, and then a couple of our festival composers had the chance to present some of their works to the group for discussion and questions. Over the course of the full two weeks, all 15 composers will get a chance to present their work.  I snuck in while composer (and Rapido! Take Three Midwest semi-finalist) Kevin Wilt was playing a recording of an orchestra piece he’d written that included some pretty awesome oboe solos!


In the afternoon, Chicago actor and director Aaron Todd Douglas joined us for a public speaking and stage presence workshop.  We learned about the various ways that stage fright or anxiety presents itself physically or mentally, ways to work through those times, and the importance of standing in a relaxed, neutral position.  And a bunch of other stuff, too!


In between these workshops and auditions, we were able to squeeze in a few rehearsals.  I snuck past the room where Melissa, Jennifer, and Katie were rehearsing a Debussy Trio for flute, viola, and harp, and it sounded pretty stellar!  One of the pieces I’m most excited to hear rehearsed at the festival is Shostakovich’s Ninth String Quartet.  You might remember that 5HE played this in March, transposed for the Real String Quartet (violin, viola, cello, bass), and it was epic!  Well, since the instrument we have the most of at the festival is viola (4! Well, 5 if you count Clark.), we thought this would be piece would be perfect to do!  Participant Timothy plays the violin part, Clark plays the violin ii part on his viola (which he learned for the March concert), Katie plays the original viola part on viola, and Matt E playing the cello part on bass just like Eric did in March.  The minute or two I got to hear while passing through today sounded pretty awesome!


We rounded the evening off with a faculty salon, and we ended up playing three pieces from last year’s festival!  Our RSQ played Jason Charney’s Ocean Body, Melissa & Jenny played Chelsea Komschlies’ Steam, and our reed trio played Jesse Limbacher’s Air.  Plus, we rounded the salon off with George Crumb’s Voice of the Whale, a 5HE favorite!


Tomorrow morning we have an education outreach workshop with Crystal and Eric, and then we head to the Milwaukee Art Museum for our first performance!