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hummingbirdMy deepest thanks to Orchestra 2001 and Piffaro, the Renaissance Band for their joint concerts this past weekend, which included the premiere performances of Red-tail and Hummingbird. What warm and happy occasions they were!

Piffaro ended the first half with their version of it; after intermission I conducted 2001 in theirs. The switch from shawms, sackbuts, and dulcians to brass quintet plus bassoon was thrilling. Not that I was in the best position to make a fair judgment: I could sit and enjoy Piffaro’s, but had to work during 2001’s.

They didn’t really need me to conduct, but I was sucked into the vortex by first suggesting tempos at the first rehearsal, and then some phrasing. The players finally told me, and Jim Freeman encouraged me, to get up in front and do it for real.

I used to conduct a bit, but haven’t for ages. I re-learned a couple of things: give them what you can, give it clearly, and get out of their way. They were brilliant.

And so was Piffaro. To make my enjoyment even fuller, as if I needed such a thing, they excerpted my five-part sonata “Steht auf, ihr lieben Kinderlein!” from Vespers.

It was interesting hearing musicians and non-musicians talk about which version of Red-tail they preferred. The entire concert, including a premiere of an Arne Running brass quintet and various lovely offerings by Julianne Baird with Piffaro, was quite a lot of fun.

A four-part series on the writing of Red-tail and Hummingbird begins here.

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