I am writing this blog in Batavia, the county seat of Genesee County, New York, a small city about half way between Buffalo and Rochester. This is where my dad still lives and where I graduated from high school. Outside the "big" cities, the surrounding towns are mostly farming communities.
Thought it was a good time to visit my dad. Hadn't been out here since Thanksgiving, and Allan is in Montana conducting an AA Festival Orchestra. Montana doesn't do an All-State, but divides the state in two so the distance to the festival is as reasonable as it can be in this huge state. Allan is is Great Falls, the site of Louis and Clark's portage around the falls in their famous expedition.
I flew to Buffalo last night after the Chicago Bass Fest which MYA hosted for the second year at Ravinia. 110 bassists and bass enthusiasts converged for a day of master classes, and sessions on topics of interest to bassists. I sat in on a jazz session in the morning and a Suzuki Bass demonstration in the afternoon. I also listened to a master class given by Joe Guastafeste, who just retired from the CSO after 49 years! Another highlight of the festival was the recital at the end of the day. Michael Cameron, Professor of Bass at the University of Illinois, performed a piece written to accompany a 19 minute silent film about a bass player which was released from the Smithsonian's silent film archives several years ago.
Thanks again go to Jerry Fuller, our MYA board member, who suggested that the time might be right to start this festival last year. Jerry played bass in a the Lyric Opera Orchestra before he switched professional direction and got a law degree. He currently is Executive Director of an association of small colleges in Illinois. He also keeps his passion and interest in bass alive as Director of Ars Antigua, an organization dedicated to promoting early music.
I had the pleasure of eating lunch with three of the young MYA bassists. It was fun talking to such great young men, especially since I have three daughters. They all enjoy bass, but plan to study engineering, neuroscience or play hockey, but continue to play bass, or as one of then put it, "I'm going to do gigs". I thought of Jerry or even, Allan, who is a bass player, who had so many musical directions to pursue in his career: bass playing, teaching, reserch, and conducting.
A huge thanks also go to Jason Heath, who again lined up all the clinicians for the day! Jason is a master bass teacher who we also recruited to produce our podcast, www.wmya.fm, each week. And no less thanks to Will Biby who administratively handled registrations, logistics, and coordination of the day (which started way before the day), and to Carl Jasieniecki, who created flyers, marketed the festival and made sure we had T-shirts again this year!