The ballet starts the Nutcracker at Thanksgiving, going all the way to New Year’s. That’s a lot of shows; I and John McCroskey split it in half, which was a really good thing! Still, it’s a fun show to play, and I really enjoy playing with the other guys in the section, Mike Warny and Rick Reeves.
I still do my regular Sunday jazz brunch with the guitarist Mike Nase, and also play at the Lakewood church most Wednesday nights. Need to keep up my jazz chops!
In early November nine of us from the HGO orchestra went down to Mazatlan in Mexico to play the Sleeping Beauty, Tjaikovskij’s ballet. It was for the Festival Cultural Mazatlan, and the orchestra consisted of both musicians from Mexico and the US.
We had a great time, and it got even better after I got over the food poisoning!
For me the big event in the fall was the Salvation Army Brass Spectacular late October. This was the most fun I’ve had in years!
Jamie Hood put everything together, hired all the top professionals brass players in Houston, flew in a few guys from the New York Staff Band, had both Steven Bulla and William Himes come, and to top it all, invite Steven Mead to be the euphonium soloist!
The band sounded spectacular, and we played classics I’ve haven’t played in years, like Call of the Righteous, Celebration, Song of the Brother, the Red Shield. The trombone section was made up of me, Rick White, John McCroskey and David Waters, the latter two of the Houston Symphony.
Obviously, a lot of the guys had never played British-style brass band before, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen these seasoned pros been this enthusiastic before! Definitely the highlight of the fall!
Late September is the time for the Kemah Jazz Festival here in Houston. I played the Friday night show with the Musician’s Union Big Band and guest soloist David Fathead Newman. Then it started raining…I was supposed to play with three different bands on Saturday; nothing!
It’s time for an update of my musical activities in the fall of 2007. The main thing in the fall has been playing principal trombone with the Houston Grand Opera, and sharing the principal spot at the Houston Ballet with John McCroskey, formerly of the Houston Symphony.
We started the season with the ballet The Merry Widow, Franz Lehar’s classic operetta, and this time without the singers. It was a fun show, lots of playing; my big solo was to depict the drunken Count for two bars!
The opera season started with The Masked Ball by Verdi. This was especially interesting for me since the story was based on an actual event in Sweden. King Gustav III was shot at a masked ball at the Royal Opera House in Stockholm March 16, 1792. He survived, but finally died thirteen days later at the age of forty six. By the way, Sweden under King Gustav III was the first country in Europe after Great Britain to acknowledge the United States of America as a sovereign nation in April of 1783. Enough history for now!