When we last left our hero, he was on a train somewhere between Baltimore and Philadelphia. We resume our story about 20 minutes from Wilmington station, where our hero suddenly has a stunning revelation . . .
J likes to remind me that every time I travel there seems to be something that goes wrong. Flights canceled/delayed, ticket being voided mysteriously, luggage getting lost, and so on. I really don’t think I have bad luck travellingâ€”more like I’ve been cursed since she said that! Well, bad luck, curse, or whatever, it was with me again on that train to Philadelphia for Hybrid Groove Project’s concert as part of the Chamber Music Now! series.
Now, before I travel anywhereâ€”especially for concertsâ€”I always make an exhaustive list of what I need, lay it out neatly on the floor, and then cross each item off the list as I pack it away. The night before, I layed everything out, but didn’t make my list. About 20 minutes from the Wilmington train station, just as I was settling into the soothing comfort of the train gliding across the tracks on a cold, rainy, and dreary day, I had a sudden panic attack, feeling as though I’d forgotten something. I went over the list in my head: saxophone (soprano + alto), check; wireless microphone, check; camera, check; laptop, check; music, check . . . wait a minute, let’s break this down a little more (Erik’s pieces, yes; Richard’s piece, yes; ter Veldhuis, yes; Beglarian, yes; and . . . ). THE GLASS PIECE! How could I possibly forget that?! The music is huge! Instantly, I thought to myself, “Can I play the concert without it?” The answer: no, it’s 12 minutes long. Well, there was going to be no way around it–I had to get back to Baltimore . . . and fast.
I ran to find the conductor, who filled me in on the train schedules. The gods must have been with me that day because when the train pulled into Wilmington, there was another headed back to Baltimore just about to leave on the other side of the platform. I jumped on, the conductor was sympathetic and didn’t make me pay for that train, and I called Jihwan to let her know the situation. Even luckier was was the fact her boss had called her earlier and said she didn’t have to go into work until later than she was scheduled. If that didn’t happen, she would have been gone, and there would have been no way for me to get the piece. ê³ ë§ˆì›Œ, ìžê¸°ì•¼.
Although I arrived in Philly a little later than planned, I was finally there with Glass in hand. And everything was ok. On with the show.
Let there be no doubt that new music is alive and well in Philadelphia. And I think that that fact is due in no small part to the evangelical efforts of Richard Belcastro and David Laganella, the directors of the Chamber Music Now! recital series. Now in its fourth season, CMN! has established itself as a new music pulse of sorts in the City of Brotherly Love with its innovative programming and willingness to take musical risks. It’s a formula that’s obviously worked, judging by their loyal fanbase and the curious first time concertgoers, both of which made up the incredible audience that night.
CMN!’s theme this season of “new music and rock and roll” was a perfect fit and a great vehicle to launch Hybrid Groove Project, a unique non-traditional chamber ensemble comprised of myself on saxophones and DJ Dubble8 (a.k.a. Erik Spangler) on turntables. I’m excited about this band because of the possibility for it to appeal to a variety of audiences. HGP plays composed music (our current repertoire includes music by Erik, Eve Beglarian, Jacob ter Veldhuis, and Philip Glass), improvises, and adds a popular twist with Dubble8′s beats and remixing.
The show, which actually began with a 45-minute Dubble8 solo set, included compositions by the folks mentioned above as well as a new piece by Richard Belcastro called Collage No. 1: bits of Bowie, written for the occasion and reminiscent of John Oswald’s plunderphonics. It was a great show for a very appreciative crowd on an amazing new music series. Richard and David deserve a huge round of applause for CMN!