|Musician-in-Residence, St. John's College (Part 1 of 4)|
|2/17/2005 - Just got back from an exhilarating and exhaustive 10 day visit to St. John’s College at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver where I was serving as a designated “Musician-in-Residence” (from what I understand, their very first). St. John’s College has it’s origins in Shanghai, China where it was founded in 1879 by the Episcopal Church of America and existed there until 1952. It’s various chapters since then always dreamed of keeping it’s vision alive and so they helped found St. John’s at UBC in the late 1990’s. It’s new Principal, Tim Brook, actually emailed me up out of the blue (underscoring as always the benefit of maintaining an accessible and up-to-date website!) and asked me if I’d liked to do it, describing himself as an admirer of my music, etc. I was thrilled at the opportunity – this was precisely the sort of creative outlet and opportunity to share my ideas that I have been increasingly seeking of late, and so I enthusiastically said “yes” almost immediately (possibly to his slight surprise? :-))…|
My stay was organized such that there was some sort of event in which I was to take part pretty much every evening, but Tim thoughtfully left the days for me to do as I wished. After a long flight and slightly disorienting arrival on Feb. 5th, I awoke Feb. 6th in the living quarters I had been assigned. St. John’s is essentially a graduate student residence hall on the edge of UBC’s campus, just steps from the Pacific Ocean (though the actual view of the water is shielded by some dense forest vegetation obscuring a long hill drop to the water below, accessible by various paths). The Principal, his wife and son as well as all the students live all at the hall and also routinely eat together in the dining room – all residents are, in fact, required to participate in the meal program as the administration rightly concluded that this was the ideal way for residents to get to know one another. My room, I soon realized, was generously-sized, with bed, desk, bath, comfortable chairs, tables, etc. But most striking were the two walls worth of windows with office blinds, which, when opened revealed the outdoors, and created an inviting atmosphere in which to work:
My first day’s activity was a duo/trio concert with trumpeter Brad Turner and cellist Peggy Lee, two of my musical colleagues who were involved both in my Suite for NY recording and my jazz opera Quebecite (which received it’s Vancouver premiere in Oct./03 at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre)…Their background (most notably Peggy’s) was coming out of the characteristic freer jazz scene that I’ve come to associate with Vancouver’s more experimental sound, and my goal was to try as hard as possible to make this concert a meeting of the minds, vs. merely dictating my own approach as might be the case with a more typical leader-sideman relationship. Each of them contributed original musical material upon my request, and I tried hard not to step on their conceptual toes during the performance. Sure enough, the performance ended up being essentially a combination of their freer, more open approach with my often more manic approach (!), with the two combining perhaps most effectively with an old composition of mine called “For Monk-Sake” (written, I revealed to the audience, 10 years ago, meaning I was officially now “old” :-))… It was well attended and the crowd was thankfully quite enthusiastic….