A world premiere

Score one for me. Last Thursday, in Valdosta State’s Whitehead Auditorium, Maila Springfield and her husband David had their faculty recital. On the program: “Six Preludes (no fugues),” written last summer expressly for Maila.

Maila Gutierrez Springfield was the staff accompanist for many years at GHP, and she is a goddess. Warm and supportive personally, she is a phenomenal pianist. I was in the chorus room for one large rehearsal when she inexplicably hit a wrong note—the whole room gasped and we had to stop. That Maila could ever play a wrong note was simply unthinkable.

Several summers ago she asked me to write something for her, David (jazz trombonist), and their friend Joren Cain (saxophonist) to play when they toured. Needless to say, I have not wrapped my head around that combination yet. But I kept her in mind, and in June of 2010 something made me start writing. I blogged about it after the fact, so I don’t have a post exclaiming, “I know! I’ll write some preludes!” but I suspect it was having been at GHP to help Marcie get started in the role of assistant program director for instruction and being with Maila at some point that week.

Here’s a pretty irony: last Thursday, I was engaged in tidying up my office, i.e., exploring notebooks that I had moved from my old cubicle to my new one and determining whether I needed to keep them (mostly not: manuals for software no one has owned for ten years, that kind of thing), and I came across a Georgia Music Educators magazine from 2002. (My predecessor, Joe Searle, was a musician.) I flipped idly through it, thinking maybe Joe kept it because he was in it, but I didn’t see any reference to him or to GHP.

However, I did see two things. Follow this chain carefully: Maila asked me to write for her after hearing Stephen Czarkowski (of cello sonata fame) butcher a reading of “Blake Leads a Walk on the Milky Way” with the orchestra; “Milky Way” is sitting now on the desk of Dr. Tim Seelig, waiting for him to have time to look over it (and then, nice man that he is, trying to figure out how to tell me that it’s not to his taste); Tim Seelig was the director of the Turtle Creek Chorale in Dallas; and there, as the highlight of the upcoming GMEA convention, was the Turtle Creek Chorale and a fabulous headshot of Dr. Seelig. Cool!

But in the back of the magazine, under University News, there was the announcement that Maila Gutierrez Springfield had been hired by VSU as staff accompanist and piano instructor. This was Thursday morning. That evening, Maila premiered “Six Preludes.” ::cue Twilight Zone theme::

So how did it go, this world premiere? I haven’t heard the performance yet—Maila had hoped the University would select her recital for web streaming—but they didn’t, but she reported Friday morning that the piece was the audience favorite. Many were astonished that I was a composer—I am such a shy, retiring bastard—and expressed an interest in hearing more of my music. Whether she’s just telling me that to make me feel good or whether it’s a wonderfully true fact, I appreciate the sentiment.

I’ve asked Maila to send me a CD or a DVD of the concert. I’ll let you know when I get it.

Now, on to the cello sonata!

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