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News, Thoughts, Soapboxes, and/or Essays

Memphis!

A few weeks ago, I went to Memphis for the Belvedere Chamber Music Festival. I hadn't spent much time in Memphis before, it's one of the closer medical centers to my hometown of Poplar Bluff so occasionally you would hear of someone being taken there, but other than that (and touring the Memphis Pyramid when I was in grade school), I'd never been. But since Luna Nova, the resident ensemble of the Belvedere festival, was playing Foi dans l'aleatoire (as part of their student composition contest (which I won)), I got invited (well, kind of required, not that they would have forced me to go. I'm a sucker for hearing my music live) to attend 4 days of musical awesomeness. The festival took place at Grace-St. Luke's Episcopal Church, which was beautiful.

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What you can't tell from this picture is that the church extends back for about another block. Or two. It was a beautiful setting, with lots of history, and lots of

Tiffani stained glass, like this.

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And this

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So what did I do other than stare at stained glass? Well, there was music! (Selections of recordings: http://www.lunanova.org/audio.html). Luna Nova is a really fantastic and fun ensemble, and I was a little disappointed we only got to hang out for a half-week. Here’s Andrew and John rehearsing Foi dans l’aleatoire.

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Those guys were absolutely great to work with. Both were phenomenal players. Andrew (the pianist) came out after my piece was finished and played Philip Glass’s Mad Rush.

In between the six concerts in four days, there were a variety of other events, such as open rehearsals, parties, composer roundtables, and masterclasses on writing for different instruments/media. There were several student composers in attendance, including several from Belmont, and fellow contest winner Joshua Fishbein from UCLA. The festival took care of all of our housing arrangements, so Josh and I got to live in this amazing house for a few days.

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Carol Ann Mallory, our host for the week, took the two of us on a tour of Memphis, seeing such sights as the aforementioned pyramid

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The Mississippi River

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Streetcars (who knew that Memphis had them?) and streets with funny names (Remember Remember the Sixth of November?)

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And since Josh had never been to Arkansas, we crossed the river momentarily.

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So overall, it was a great time with great people and great food and great music, in a really cool town. I kind of want to go back.