I’ve now completed 22 airplane flights in 2010, with 10 more to go.  I’m thinking I will try to reduce that number drastically in 2011.  Got to cut down on my carbon footprint.

I wouldn’t mind a drastic reduction in airport food intake while I’m at it.

In Salt Lake City now.  Here’s picture of the plane that brought me here.  It’s not a particularly interesting plane, but the backdrop gives you a pretty good sense of the dramatically beautiful mountains and striking sky that SLC residents get to experience on a daily basis.

Again, the plane wasn’t much to brag about.   I was actually pretty envious of the folks who arrived in the plane on the left – the one with the fox on the tail.  That looks pretty cool.

Musicians travel, and there are always those wonderful souls who come to the airport to pick them up, take them to their hotels, and generally make a nice first impression on them.  I’ve been charged with being that soul on many occasions, and I have some tips for would-be wonderful souls.  Most musicians are easy to pick out in a crowded airport: instrument cases are a dead giveaway.  Pianists are a bit tricky: you have to keep an eye peeled for that cute little bag they carry their music in.  Conductors have a larger version of the cute little bag for their scores.

If you ever have to pick up a composer, just look for the person who is walking around in a daze, looking like he’s never seen the inside of an airport before.

I was found wandering in circles by the wonderful composer John Costa, known to many as the brains and brawn behind the Utah Arts Festival commissions.  He proved to be the perfect host to get my first visit to SLC in forty years off to a lovely start.  He took me to the Red Iguana for dinner, which I recommend highly as a place to go if you want to eat far more than you should.

And here is a word to those composers who believe that entering competitions is a waste of time: you are right.  Except.  John reminded me that I applied for a Utah Arts Festival commission a number of years ago.  One of the judges was Robert Baldwin.  I didn’t win, but my piece so impressed Maestro Baldwin that he has gone on to conduct a half dozen or so performances of my music since then, including the premiere I’m in town for now.

That gives me a perfect opportunity to rewind a bit in order to tell you that when I arrived at the airport to await my first flight on Tuesday, I found a note in my inbox from Mr. Baldwin.  Turns out he had sent me links to recordings of the orchestra’s most recent rehearsal of Cool Night.  So my layover time eating lousy airport food was accompanied by the sounds of my music gradually coming into focus in rehearsal – which was accompanied by the earbud bleedthrough of lousy airport music backbeats.

I love the times I live in.

The next day, Mr. Baldwin came to the hotel to personally take me to rehearsal.  I was very curious to finally meet this man who had taken such a liking to my music from afar.  One always has fans who are fans because of personal acquaintance – my mom comes to mind – but people who like your music for itself, as opposed to feeling personally invested in it because their lives are linked to yours is — well, I suppose it’s reassuring to feel the music has legs of its own.  In this case, Robert’s reputation as an excellent conductor had preceded him, which made me doubly curious.

No disappointment to report.  The rehearsal went extremely well, with singers, actor, orchestra and conductor all giving their utmost to make Cool Night glitter.  Then I got to have a nice lunch with Maestro, who turned out to be about the most agreeable person you could imagine.  We commiserated a bit on the challenges of running a music school, the kinds of things faculty and students could never guess about how these seemingly creaky institutions stay afloat, and — every once in awhile — flourish.

And then I had a few hours to stroll the broad boulevards, trying to get a sense of how this city, so different from most of the cities I spend time in, functions.  A lot of the thoughts I had will have to wait for another post, once I’ve had a chance to collect them, or recollect them, with greater clarity.  They have to do with identification vs. understanding, the tug-of-war between protectionism and exploration, and the correct use of resources, spiritual and physical.

My musings, and aimless wanderings, were interrupted by the sight of this forever Young man, exhorting the motorists (and the politicians, one supposes) to turn right at the intersection.

One Response to “if you are asking for directions…”
  1. josh gates says:

    …and with a Frontier Airlines plane behind it! I had a few slightly scary Frontier flights this summer on the way to and from Montana.

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