Foolish at John Mackey's Blog

November 30, 2006

Foolish

Where the hell have I been? Why aren’t I posting pictures of our (already decorated) Christmas tree?!

I, foolishly, agreed to deliver two completely separate commissions on the same day. That deadline? Tomorrow.

I was offered these commissions over 18 months ago. Between the Midwest Clinic in December 2004 and the National CBDNA Convention in New York in early 2005, I suddenly received several commission offers — the SEC (which led to “Turbine“), the American Bandmasters Association (“Strange Humors“), a consortium of high schools, led by my high school friend Josh Thompson (“Turning“), plus the two that are due tomorrow — the Central Oklahoma Directors Association (an honors wind ensemble, to premiere the piece in January, conducted by Rick Clary), and a consortium for seven bands in Japan.

Why would I agree to two commissions with the same deadline? At the time that I received all of these commissions, I had literally just quit my day job, but that wasn’t the motivation. The truth was that until that point in January 2005, I had been writing commission-to-commission. That is, I’d get a commission, write it, deliver it, and then look for more work — returning to my day job while I searched for another project. When I suddenly had multiple commission offers at once, I thought, “Wow, this has never happened, and will never happen again, so I need to not screw this up. If I space these out too much, the people asking for the works will lose interest, and I don’t want that to happen, so I’ll just make it all work. Plus, December 2006 is almost two years away! I will be totally fine.”

Well, that was… naive. There was one other commission — due in March 2006 — and I had to pull out of that one a few months before it was due, because I knew I couldn’t do it in time and make it any good. I still regret that. (I’ll add that it’s not much fun to write a check back to somebody for the original retainer fee.) Then I had to postpone “Turning,” which was originally to be delivered in March, then April — and ended up delivered in August. “Turning” kicked my butt, and as soon as it was done, I started the fall travel — Arizona State twice, UT at Austin, Texas Tech, LSU and U. Kansas, U. Tennessee, plus rehearsals at USC — all while working on these two new pieces whenever I could.

Somehow, the scores for both pieces are done, and I’m cautiously optimistic about them both. The parts for the Oklahoma piece won’t be done until Monday or Tuesday (only about 3 days late — that doesn’t even count as late!), but I’ll be able to send the Japanese consortium commission — score and parts — later today.

It’s fun to clean up the score and finally see it as a finished product, as that’s when it seems like (or at least looks like) “real music.” Here are three pages of the Japanese piece, in PDF format, for those who are curious about such things. Here’s a different single page with a bunch of notes. The French horn parts in this piece are going to be rough…

The agenda for today: finish the parts for the Japanese consortium and send them. Tomorrow: work all day on parts for the Oklahoma piece. And Saturday: the USC – UCLA football game. That’s right, AEJ and I are going to the big USC-UCLA game, and we’re sitting with the UCLA band. You can bet that photos will follow. For now, though, it’s coffee + lots and lots of Finale part extraction. Woo. Hoo.

3 Comments

3 Comments to “Foolish”  

    1
  1. At 2:27 pm on November 30, 2006
    R Says:

    Just remember who you have to root for on Saturday, even if its very quietly because you’ll be sitting with the enemy.

  2. 2
  3. At 4:53 am on December 2, 2006
    Kevin Howlett Says:

    C Trumpets?

  4. 3
  5. At 9:23 am on December 2, 2006
    Steve Says:

    Holy bleeding 1st Horn, batman…

    Looks like a really joyous, exciting piece – am I hearing it in my mind correctly?

    And congrats on finishing two at once. Yowza.

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