Thoughts on life and music.

Off To Sarajevo! But First, Sewanee

I'm happy to announce that my fundraising was successful! The BHAAAS was able to raise enough money to cover the rest of my ticket after the additional fundraising I did, so in September I will arrive in Sarajevo to play second horn in the Philharmonic. Thank you all for the kind words and financial support, it's been wonderful to experience the unexpected generousity of friends and neighbors.

I'm currently at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival in Sewanee, Tennessee, hosted by University of the South. Sewanee brings 180 music students together for a month of lessons, masterclasses, orchestra performances and chamber music. I was selected for a scholarship that allowed me to participate in the program through a recorded audition process this past spring.

Last week, the students participated in a "strolling" band for the annual 4th of July parade. Sewanee is a very small community of only a few hundred full-time residents, in addition to 1500 students at the university, and comes alive in the summer as a seasonal retreat. The festival is an integral part of the community, and the band float is a favorite in the parade.

Later in the evening, fesitval students put on a free concert of patriotic music. Selections included The Star Spangled Banner, Stars and Stripes Forever and a band arrangement of a piece from Saving Private Ryan. We had a great turnout; the community seemed very excited about the performance despite the fact that the air conditioning in the hall was not working, and Tennessee is experiencing an historic heat wave.

Aside from the holiday activities, the festival has been great so far. The two horn professors are both excellent players, in addition to caring and helpful teachers. Mr. Bruce Heim is the professor of horn at University of Louisville, and Mr. Dave Brockett teaches at Baldwin-Wallace and plays in the Cleveland Orchestra.

The orchestra has been playing some challenging repertoire, and my chamber groups so far have been a lot of fun! This week I'm playing in a double woodwind quintet, with clarinet, oboe, basson and flute in a piece called Petite Symphonie by Charles Gounoud. I'm also in a sextet of flute/piccolo, clarinet, bass clarinet, basson and oboe for a piece called Mladi (Youth) by Leoš Janáček.

In orchestra this week, we are rehearsing the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein, and the Daphnis et Chloe Suite 2 by Maurice Ravel. It's been a mute kind of week, both pieces use straight and stopped muting as an effect throughout the work. I've had the opportunity to play principal on a number of the orchestra pieces, including West Side Story this week. I think this piece has been my favorite so far, we get to play some loud rips and the jazz licks have been great fun to learn!

Concerts are available streaming live on the festival website for free, everyone is welcome to watch and enjoy.

(Concerts are generally at 4:30pm EST on Sundays, as well as faculty/chamber concerts on Wednesday evenings and Friday evenings.)

Ion Balu Visits Sewanee

From WHS Band to the Sarajevo Philharmonic