January – I did a lot of playing this month; Symphony Silicon Valley, California Symphony, Santa Rosa Symphony… I spent some time with doctors discussing my chronic pain & my hip. I spent a GREAT weekend in LA visiting with Jim Self. No matter where you are along the musical path, it is always good to connect with one’s mentors. We talked a lot, we played together and I left there with some wonderful thoughts.
February – First up was the BCMW composition reading session. I ALWAYS enjoy playing new, fresh music and this contest was as good as always. We were able to add some wonderful new music to the BCMW library. Spent some more time with doctors and worked a lot at Lynbrook High School. Mike Pakaluk inherited a HUGE program from John Felder and is doing a wonderful job there. End of the month, I started in the Pain Management Program at Kaiser Hospital.
March – I had THREE concerts to conduct, OWO, OCB & MPBB and a recording session with OWO. SSV played a concert, and a series of Children’s’ concerts, which I always enjoy. I taught a lot of lessons this month, as well as some students at Stanford. Continued at Kaiser with the PMP. Took three bands to Fresno the 24th.
April – I sold my Bruckner to Alex Lapins in Arizona; we met at Bakersfield for the hand off. I got booted out of the pain management program because I missed too many classes. At this time, I am seriously considering a hip replacement, as the chronic pain is sometimes unbearable. I cannot conduct a 2-hour rehearsal standing. As much as I HATE this, I have to run rehearsals from a stool. I played several rehearsals with the Diablo Wind Symphony, preparing for a May solo appearance, and had several rehearsals with our brass detect, and judged a music festival. The Tuba Ensemble did a concert in Livermore, and the brass band played its spring concert. I went to hear the SF Symphony play ‘Romeo & Juliet” one of my FAVORITE pieces. I got reinstated in the Pain Management program with a modified attendance policy. I am moving towards coping with the chronic pain. More work with the Lynbrook bands and I taught a TON of lessons this month.
May – I had my breakthrough with the Pain Management Program. May 3rd to be exact. I won’t bore you with the details, but it was a life altering experience for me. I came to some wonderful realizations, and like magic, my back pain all but disappeared. If you want more info, contact me offline. Concerts: Symphony Silicon Valley, OWO, MPBB, solo with Diablo Wind Symphony, OCB. I auditioned to conduct the Watsonville Band. Played with the Monterey Band and I started a long run of Mary Poppins, bass trombone and tuba. Had a BLAST playing this show and made a ton of dough! Notes that my dear Phil Zahorsky had left us one year ago, on May 18. To celebrate his life, we have a band campout at Big Basin State Park that weekend. A grand time was had by all. A decision was made to have the hip replacement surgery; I asked for a MEDICAL leave from Music in the Mountains. I have been playing this festival since 1983.
June – Finished a long run of Mary Poppins. Man, I loved playing that musical. Great part, great orchestra, wonderful conductor. Did some Pain Management classes, prior to my June 19 surgery. SSV had a bass trombone audition; we hired a young trombonist from LA, who’s parents were classmates of mine at Northridge. I taught a lot of lessons before the new hip. June 19th – surgery. The surgery itself was pretty painless. It is really draconian what they do to you, but it is better than chronic pain. The next day, was HELL. I have never had pain like that. They get you right up and walking, but apparently (come to find out MUCH later) I was under medicated because the pain was UNbearable. One of the physical therapists FORCED me out of bed, and I was in tears, I never felt pain like that. June 22, my 25th wedding anniversary, home from the hospital. With drugs (morphine is GOOD!) I am able to control the pain. My extended family (read Ohlone & BCMW) was wonderful, with people bringing over food for 3 weeks after I am home. Thank you to Phil Pollard for coordinating all of that. MANY people stop by to see how I am doing. There is such a HUGE outcropping of visits, support and helping, I feel BLESSED to be surrounded with so many truly extraordinary people.
July – Against doctor’s orders, I play a July 4th gig with the Oakland Park band; THAT was a mistake! The pain was awful. Linda and I buy a new trailer for BCMW and it arrives the 10th. I see my surgeon for the first time since the surgery and he is thrilled with the results. I’m still hobbling with a cane, and medicated (no more morphine, though). Again, against Dr.’s orders I go to BCMW. It WAS a challenge, but with SO much help, it went off without a hitch. I had to hire a last minute coach for week 2 because I can’t go a whole day without pain meds and I can’t concentrate on coaching when I am medicated. I am supposed to play “Tubby the Tuba” with the symphony, but I bailed because there is no way I can do that. Rod Matthews agrees to fill in for me last minute.
August – I continue with the Kaiser pain class and teach a ton of lessons. Ohlone bands start up end of the month. It is great seeing my musical family after this weird summer. I play the POPS in SLO the last weekend.
September – HEART ATTACK!! Yep, I suffered a heart attack on September 5th. I’m home alone; chest pain, dial 911 and they haul me out of here. I almost croak in the ambulance as my blood pressure goes through the roof. It was pretty scary; a life changing event for sure. They put 3 stents in and they find no damage to the heart muscle. I was back to work 3 days later. I’m not going let a little thing like a heart attack keep me away from my tuba ensemble, AND the first rehearsal of the newly formed Ohlone Clarinet Choir. I need to change my eating habits. It feels so good to be in front of my Ohlone Ensembles again, teaching my lessons and working with the Lynbrook kids. There is a pain management potluck on the 28th and it is WONDERFUL re-connecting with my pain management family. Symphony concerts and children’s concerts at the end of the month. And I start teaching three OUTSTANDING students at Stanford. I am given the position of ‘Interim Director of Bands’ at CSU East Bay, when their band director resigns.
OCTOBER – I play one of the most unique gigs I have ever played: 6 tubas in the Ann Hamilton Tower on Oliver Ranch. Google it, it is fascinating. I GET ON A PLANE! I go to my hometown (Lindenhurst, NY) for a 40th HS reunion. Although I did not go to Lindenhurst HS, I went to elementary school and junior high school with many, many of these folks. I was not going to go, but I was encouraged by more than a few people to go, so I did. AM I GLAD I DID! Not only did I really enjoy the trip, but also I reconnected with childhood friends and realized that truly, my childhood connection was something I really missed in my life. I am so grateful that the people with whom I spent time made me feel so at home. I reconnected with John Geheran and Bobby Arndts, 2 of my closest childhood friends. While I am there, I meet a wonderful horn player/composer/improv artist, Lydia Busler-Blais; more about her later. As soon as I get home, Jimmy Latten comes out from PA to conduct on the MPBB concert. It was great having him and he did wonderful rehearsals with my bands. At the end of the month, I begin rehearsals with the Santa Rosa Symphony, playing “Symphonie Phantastique” with Rod Matthews in the new Green Center in Santa Rosa.
November – That first weekend I played a series of incredible concerts with the Santa Rosa Symphony. I don’t think I’ll EVER tire of playing ‘Fantastique.’ That new hall is awesome, and I love playing with Rod. My rehearsals with the CSUEB band go well and I am teaching a ton of lessons. Nov 16, Lydia comes out here to make some connections. She is SUCH a talented artist; I want to try to get her out here doing some concerts, lectures, and demos. She comes to my clarinet & tuba concert and meets some of our Ohlone family and in NO TIME, she is being pressured to coach up at BCMW. I KNEW our guys would love her! She’s supposed to go home the 21st, but gets sick. She ends up going home AFTER T’giving, missing the holiday with her family. My first concert with the CSUEB band goes rather well. The musicians make TREMENDOUS progress in the quarter. I am looking forward to the rest of the year.
December – SSV concert, Tchaik 6th. STILL one of my favorite pieces to play. George Cleve does a GREAT job of rehearsing and conducting this masterpiece. GREAT performance by the symph. The next week, NUTCRACKER. With the upheaval at Ballet San Jose, there is a new production, reconstituted score and a new conductor. Dec 8, Ohlone Christmas Spectacular. All 5 groups play, OWO, OCB, MPBB, TE and CC. Great concert. Had a wonderful time and the groups played their hearts out. Tom Johnson VIDEO’D the whole thing, and I JUST saw the BLURAY version, YOWZA!! I played “The Legend of Zelda” at the SJ Civic Auditorium with the Skywalker Symphony. WOW, what a band!!! Played a wonderful gig with the Modesto Symphony and I saw an OLD friend of mine, Julie Rydelius, with whom I went to Jr. College. She is still a professional hornist in Florida. Finished up ‘Nutcracker’ and spent Xmas day with my father, who will be 92 on January 26th, 2013. Dec 31, spent New Years’ with my dear friends Phil & Susan Pollard, and Neil Bliss and Wendy Tran dropped by to play some Uno. They say, how you spend New Years Eve is how you spend your year. If I eat a wonderful meal, and am surrounded with friends for 2013, it WILL be a great year!