Saturday, February 03, 2007

Army Tuba Conference, Washington D.C.

Last week I went with my friend Dave to Washington D.C. for the annual U.S. Army Tuba and Euphonium Conference, held at Ft. Myer Army Base. On our way up we stopped in Richmond, VA and visited the Edgar Allan Poe museum, which featured a number of items that belonged to him, paintings of him and others in his life, and a great deal of history relayed by the tour guide. The museum is housed in the oldest building in Richmond, built in 1737.

We got to D.C. a day before the conference began, and we spent it at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Annex, adjacent to Dulles Airport. There are around 100 historical aircraft on display, including a space shuttle, the Enola Gay, and the Virgin Atlantic plane that recently circumnavigated the globe nonstop. The number of aircraft and the display design was simply mindblowing. We were there from open until close, taking a short break for lunch at the onsite restaurant, and a break for an IMAX film dealing with a Top Gun-type fighter pilot school held in Nevada.

That evening we headed into Bethesda, MD to visit my friend Becky with whom I used to work at USC. She took us on a great walking tour of downtown Bethesda; that town is certainly not at a shortage for restaurants, so it was a great challenge to decide which one to patronize, but we finally decided on one specializing in Afghan cuisine; I had a vegetarian dish made up of potatoes, tomoatoes, and basmati rice that was quite tasty. It was really good to see her again.

The conference featured many recitals by soloists and ensembles from various universities and military bands from around the nation and beyond (there were several attendees and performing groups from England and Germany.) Nestled in between performances were masterclasses and two reading sessions, in which attendees who brought their horns read pieces written for the tuba-euphonium ensemble; Dave and I both participated in those and had great fun. At the first one I shared a music stand with a Scottish fellow who's in the British navy, and at the second one I shared a stand with a Penn State student. Meeting interesting folks who are just as nutty as me about tubas was a lot of fun.

Ft. Myer is directly adjacent to Arlington Cemetery, so we squeezed in a visit to it. It's very large, so we saw only a small portion, but we did manage to visit the Tombs of the Unknown Soldiers and JFK's grave.

Lots of fun! Hearing so many incredible players makes one want to go home and either practice like mad or pitch your tuba over a bridge! :-) Fortunately I've been doing the former and having a great time, feeling really rejuvenated musically.

The Poe Museum:

Bust of Poe:

A Concord:

The Enola Gay:

Me test driving a new horn:


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