I'm catching a 24-hour turn around flight to be in New York City Saturday as the Nautilus Brass premiere my brass quintet, "Lockjaw". This was a piece I originally wrote for my friend as a joke suite for oboe, which she labeled impossible. She saw impossible, I saw improbable... and still kinda cool.
Jump forward a year and I'm grossly under-prepared to play my jury piece on trumpet, Alexander Aratunian's "Concerto for Trumpet" (a lovely, beautiful, favorite piece of mine, but boy do I suck at trumpet...) at my studios departmental at the University of North Texas. Since many of the first and second year undergrads are in the lower tier performing ensembles, we spend most of our time preparing this jury piece in our off time... except me. I kept trying to compose and learn my solo whenever I felt like it, to the chagrin of my lesson teacher. Most importantly, because we were encouraged to play at least once a semester at these weekly departmentals, and for us youngins' who were learning nothing but these jury pieces, you would traditionally play that jury piece. Even if it was weeks or months from the deadline.
Confession: I meet deadlines. But man do I meet them down to the last second.
'Tis the creative life.
So, trying to weasel out of the first available loop-hole, I offered to play a "new work" as my one performance for the trumpet studio. The offer was accepted, and I joyfully basked in the glory of delaying my performance of Aratunian's hard-as-balls concerto.
Then the week before my scheduled time arrived and reality hit me.
Too busy to craft something new, and too talentless to have already written something, I dug through my digital box of scrapped ideas, and came acoss the joke oboe solo I'd written in 2011. Then it all became clear- those impossible leaps and modulations for one instrument became fairly easy and practical for an ensemble- the "implied" chords became actual chords! The stupid-hard runs, made impossible by woodwind fingerings, became incredibly do-able contrupuntal passages with valved brass instruments (except trombone, but screw it, they could gliss where necessary... and you know I wrote that in.)
Thus my short, tastefully dissonant, blues-scale dominated, DCI-rip-off little monster was born so that I may avoid my responsibilities as a musician.
And now it's being premiered at a new music festival!
Like a football coach father, embarassed of his son deadset on being an actor, but then comprimised with confusion and pride when he stars as an extra in Remember the Titans... I am lovingly ashamed and secretly thrilled by this brass quintet.