Fresh Inc 2013: Day 0 & 1 Recap

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!