Friday, November 13, 2009

Rite of Spring as a work for Jazz Ensemble

So, I have been meaning to start this my first ever blog for quite a while now. I have however, procrastinated quite well. In fact, in much the same manner as I put off starting the project that I am now blogging about. And that is the daunting task of arranging and orchestrating Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" for jazz ensemble. Or "big band" as these groups were called as they emerged as popular American performers in the 1930s. The genre has not disappeared although they have become a fringe group, at least as compared to rock & roll, country or hip-hop. But they continue to survive as jazz ensembles, jazz orchestras or even the good old word big band. I don't like big band so much as it has too strong of a tie to bands like Glenn Miller that were playing dance music and never digging in to really play some jazz. But, now I'm off on another tangent.

About November of 2008, Brian Sacawa, curator of the Mobtown Modern concert series in Baltimore approached me with an idea. Why not present Stravinsky's Rite of Spring as a jazz piece. Being an arranger and composer as well as a glutton for punishment I said, "hey that's a good idea." Well, nothing more was said until the following February or so when we more or less said the same things. "Let's do it." And off it went into the recesses of my mind.

Well, sometime around April or May I googled Stravinsky, rite, jazz, etc and what do you think I found. The website for Mobtown Modern with a performance date for Rite of Spring "as arranged by award winning composer/arranger Darryl Brenzel". Panic!!!!! Now there's a deadline. May 12, 2010 at the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore. A little more procrastinating and pen finally starts to go to paper in July. Well, actually, I start to input my first notes in the computer.

Anyway, I am currently about 2/3 of the way through the actual writing. I have heard a rehearsal of about 40% of that. My intention with this blog is not only to keep you posted on my progress and all it's inherent hurdles and rewards, but to backtrack through some of the process to let you in on what has happened along the way. And to perhaps even re-think things myself. My goal is to update at least two times a week. We'll see how that goes. Anyway, I hope Igor is not rolling in his grave. I kind of like to think that he would appreciate what I am doing. And I hope on May 12, 2010 that my audience does as well.

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