Episode 18: Midwest Clinic Adventures 2022
by Lori Archer Sutherland · Published · Updated
This was my second year at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago. A good time was had by all! Find out what I experienced, who I met, and my thoughts on it all. #midwestclinic
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Episode 18: Midwest Clinic Adventures 2022
Hello and welcome to Tonal Diversions. I’m your host, Lori Archer Sutherland, and this is my journey as a multifaceted musician. I’m a composer, clarinetist and more who is navigating the world of is classical music, and I’d love to share my adventures with you.
Hello, and welcome to the show. As with last year, I had a great time at Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic. You know you’re at Midwest when someone in the booth next to you starts playing a Baroque oboe and no one thinks it’s weird. These are my people.
This year I went in with other composers and we had our own booth. This meant we got to submit pieces for the reading sessions. And since it was our booth, unlike sharing in John Mackey’s booth last year, we were able to keep our music samples on display the whole time.
I’m thrilled to have had a piece of mine accepted into the band music reading session, but I’ll talk more on that later.
The other composers at her booth were Joseph Sowa and Michael Paul Mitchell. You may remember Joseph’s name, as I had taken a composition class from him in the fall of 2021. I hadn’t met Michael before, but now I’m happy to say I have another composer friend. I’ll link to both of their pages in the show notes.
Since this was our first time getting our own booth, we had a bit of a learning curve in what to bring, and how to display things, and how to bring the things there. Joseph and Michael both flew in, and I took the train, so we were limited as to what we could actually bring with us. We changed our booth layout a few times over the course of the three days, but settled on what seemed like a good layout. I have some pictures in the photo album that’s linked in the show notes.
We had enough flexibility for each of us to attend sessions and attend to the booth. We probably didn’t all have to be there as much as we were, but it’s something to keep in mind for next year.
We also want to come up with a collective name, which will be easier for several reasons– including having it be correct on the booth sign. We had to grab a Sharpie to add my and Michael’s names to the sign. It definitely added a homemade feel to our booth. I preferred the term “rustic.”
Band New Music Reading Session
By far the most important event for me was the reading session. I still can’t believe that my piece, “Proclamation,” was selected for this! If you listen to last year’s recap, you might recall that I said I’d love to have a piece of mine performed at Midwest. I truly didn’t expect it to happen the very next year. Now I just need to get an entire piece played, not just an excerpt.
The band and orchestra reading sessions highlight new pieces, or new-to-a-larger-audience pieces, so directors can get ideas for their ensembles. The band reading session highlighted 38 pieces in 90 minutes, which is why only a part of each piece got played. The Bands of the Air National Guard, directed by Bryan Miller, performed the works. They sounded fantastic! It was such a rush to hear my piece performed by an ensemble of this caliber. And to hear it conducted by someone who has way more experience than I do.
My piece was third from the end, so unfortunately a large chunk of the audience had left by then. But it’s listed in the program, so hopefully a director or two will search it out and listen. And like it. And purchase it for their own band.
Baylor University Wind Ensemble, featuring Julian Bliss
The only other performance I went to was the Baylor University Wind Ensemble. Due to incoming winter storms, this concert was rescheduled at the last minute from Thursday morning to Tuesday night at 9:30. I managed to stay up to go to it, and I’m so glad I did. It was completely worth it.
The highlight, though, was hearing clarinetist Julian Bliss play John Mackey’s new concerto entitled “Divine Mischief.” I got to hear the premiere live stream a few months ago, but when I found out it was being performed at Midwest, I knew I had to hear it live. Fantastic piece and a phenomenal performance.
I also enjoyed the rest of the concert, hearing some new to me composers and pieces that I want to check out later. Huge kudos to this group. According to the program, they had just performed that whole concert earlier in the afternoon in the Chicago suburbs. They didn’t sound at all like they were doing an unexpected second concert.
As with last year, I attended some really good sessions.
Conducting, Composing and Performing with Disabilities: An Accessible, Inclusive And Empathic Vision For Neurodiverse Music
First up is “Conducting, Composing and Performing with Disabilities: An Accessible, Inclusive And Empathic Vision For Neurodiverse Music” with Jason Noble, John Mackey and Michael Martin. Given my recent podcast episodes, I was most interested in this session. I’m familiar with John’s journey with ADHD, and frankly, his story is one of them that helped lead me to my own diagnosis. I wasn’t familiar with the other two speakers, but I’m really grateful to them for sharing their stories. It’s not always easy to share vulnerabilities like these, especially in front of a live audience. It’s one thing to talk about a diagnosis behind a microphone when you don’t know how many people are really going to listen to what you have to say. It’s another thing to talk about it in a huge room full of people.
While the overarching question was, “What can we do as teachers?” I found the discussion also really relevant to what I can do for myself. They discussed avoiding ableism, being inclusive and a big emphasis on empathy. I hope we hear more of these sessions like this at future conferences. I think they’re absolutely needed.
Empowering Female Conductors: a Focus On Allyship, Mentorship and Representation
Next up is “Empowering Female Conductors: a Focus On Allyship, Mentorship and Representation.” This was an excellent panel presentation, and you can’t go wrong when they’re blaring the song “Nine to Five” as we walk into the room! It certainly injected a certain energy into the atmosphere.
The panelists shared their stories, plus words of encouragement and instruction. We need to hear these varied voices. I’m happy to say this session had a huge audience. I’ll link to the session page on the Midwest website where it lists all of the presenters’ names.
One quote that really resonated with me was, “Female students need to see women on the podium. Yes, they do. And so do male and transgender students.” Another big question from this session is, “Are you empowering, or are you destroying?” That’s an important question. Think about that for a minute. And that really applies to a lot of things in life, doesn’t it?
When Conductor And Composer Are One
Then I went to “When Conductor And Composer Are One” with Mark Camphouse, Quincy Hilliard and Laura Estes. I don’t really have notes on this one. I had a handout with some notes on it, but I’ve already misplaced it because I probably put it in a safe spot. But it was interesting and it did give me some things to think about with my own pieces and who I’m writing them for. Especially as I consider writing more for beginner band.
Why Audiences Clap: Creating Exciting and Memorable Performances Through Creativity, Connection and Communication
And finally, I went to “Why Audiences Clap: Creating Exciting and Memorable Performances Through Creativity, Connection and Communication” with Stephen Meyer. This was another excellent session and Meyer is a great presenter. I would go to any session he presents in the future.
He brought up the question, is it “wow” or “WOW!!!”? And he also said, “How do we get the audience to stop looking at their phones or counting the number of e’s in the program?” And the answer is to give it some theater. He mentioned Bud Beyer, who worked a lot with learning from other art forms, like theater, to influence what we do in music. A session from last year’s conference also mentioned Beyer, so I think I really need to add his book Completing the Circle to my reading list. If any of you have read it already, I would love to hear from you.
In classical music, we’ve pretty much been trained to have all extraneous movement and emotion just drained out of us when we perform. But if you go back and think about what memorable performances you’ve witnessed, and I would love to know if any of those people were just sitting still, calmly playing their instruments, or did they show some life in their playing?
One of the best parts of this conference is the people seeing old friends and meeting new ones, being surrounded by folks who just get it when it comes to music and what we do, hearing great performances and speakers. It’s a great place to connect. And even though this introvert gets peopled out at the end of each day, I still feel this is such a worthwhile event to go to.
We enjoyed meeting and chatting with our neighbor booths, including the Brass Band of Huntsville on one side and the French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts on the other side. By the way, the French Woods booth was the one with the Baroque oboe, just in case you were wondering,
I attended the ArrangeMe/Hal Leonard mixer on Tuesday night. It was nice to meet some folks from those two companies, since I’ve been a self-publisher with them since 2014. Well, when I started, it was still SMPPress by sheet Music Plus, but that made for an interesting topic of conversation.
Thank you for joining me on my recap of another great year at Midwest. I hope to be back in 20 20 23. We’ll see what the schedule is and whether I can swing it. I enjoyed having a booth. It’s a different experience, and I’d like to participate that way again. And maybe a full piece of mine will be played. Until next time.
Thank you for listening to Tonal Diversions! Subscribe wherever podcasts are found and share with a friend. Until next time. Bye!
Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic
Michael Paul Mitchell
Empowering Female Conductors panelists
Conducting, Composing, and Performing With Disabilities: An Accessible, Inclusive, and Empathic Vision for Neurodiverse Music
When Conductor and Composer Are One
Why Audiences Clap: Creating Exciting and Memorable Performances Through Creativity, Connection, and Communication
Bud Beyer’s “Completing the Circle” (Amazon link)
French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts
Baylor University Wind Ensemble
Bands of the Air National Guard
Tonal Diversions Website