A Circus, a Phil, and an Apple
A Circus in Winter – in the Big Apple
I was fortunate enough to have spent this past week in New York City, performing for the “Circus in Winter” musical. I have been a part of the Circus team for the past year and a half.
I was excited to see two of my best friends Ben Clark (the composer for Circus) and Nick Rapley (the percussionist extraordinaire) but was not prepared for how many more emotions I would have towards the musical than before.
In the Fall of 2011, a group of students at Ball State University put on a tremendous production, which we played for 2 weeks and then again at a theater festival. I was sad for it to end. It was the high watermark for the year for me, and was one of the last grand musical experiences I had before I moved to Texas.
When asked to come out to NYC to perform for Circus, as I said before, I was mainly pumped to see two of my best friends. Of course I was excited to play the music as well. The music is just terrific. But day one (day one for me, day 6 for everyone else) was something else. With a new guitar player, Eli Zoller, who was just as terrific as Ben and just as personable, the band grooved. All was well. Then I heard the singers sing. All was overwhelmingly well. The talent, the sound, the harmonies, the dead center accuracy all made for a much grander palette of emotions.
Thank you to Eli Zoller, Victoria Bussert, Sutton Foster, Brian Sutherland, Rachael Ferrara, Pat McRoberts, Steel Burkhardt, Kate Rockwell, Marie-France Arcilla, Emily Behny, Derrick Cobey, Jonathan Jensen, Corey Mach, Matt Webb and Jen Noble. You’re all wonderful musicians.
With one performance of the day finished, I knew that I had to finally hear the NY Phil perform. I have seen the Chicago Symphony perform many times, and have been waiting for a chance to hear NY. Quite on a whim, and thankful for the student discount rate of $13.50 (and the extra $7 I paid for the pre-concert lecture) I heard another tremendous orchestra play some tremendous music.
Carl Nielsen (9 June 1865 – 3 October 1931)
I can’t say that I knew much about Carl Nielsen before the pre-concert talk and hearing two of his concertos. I know that I had heard one or two of his symphonies before, and that they’re on my iTunes library. Apparently he was quite the comedian. Outside of the Avery Fisher Hall auditorium was a display case of his original scores and violin (pictured below) and photos of him. There were about 10 different photos he had taken as a young man making goofy faces; goofy faces in the way we make them on Facebook and Twitter today.
His music was even funny too. During his violin concerto he would jump back to opening sections when you didn’t expect it. The audience knew this and they laughed. His violin concerto was amazing and was performed by Nikolaj Znaider. The end of the first movement was so triumphant I, along with everyone else, couldn’t help but clap and scream. It was AWESOME.
The flute concerto, which was lovely, was something I intend to give some more listens. Even Nielsen said of his flute concerto that he wasn’t sure about it. Robert Langevin performed it and while he played beautifully, the concerto itself is a bit confusing sometimes. I still liked it, though.
Finally they played Tchaikovsky’s 2nd symphony, “Little Russian.” That was AMAZING! (…unintended Circus reference) The orchestra was just dead on, with a BEAUTIFUL sound and tremendous emotion. Afterwards I rushed outside to the back door to meer Ethan Bernsdorf and Matthew Muckey of the trumpet section. I ran back inside as well to meet Maestro Alan Gilbert and have him sign the Nielsen CD the NY Phil recorded (symphonies 2/3).
New York City has been great. I played with wonderful musicians. I listened to wonderful musicians. I even got some future jobs out this trip.
I shared great times, great drinks, great food with people I love and truly supportive people. A small Ball State reunion reminded me of the talented people I’ve associated myself with and how lucky I am. Clearly this is not the last time I will be in NYC and, more clearly, that this will not at all be the last Circus spectacle I am a part of.
Thank you to everyone I met in these short few, but deeply important, days. Ben, Nick, and Beth: you’re tremendous people.
Here are some photos of trip and all the talented singers and musicians. I am truly grateful to have worked with them.
**Update** Here are some photos by Ric Kallaher Photography from NYC at Ric-Kallaher.com