Sunday, July 26, 2015

5 Questions with Steve Wenig

Steve Wenig (B.M. ‘95) studied Music Theory and Trumpet at Hartt from 1990 to 1995.  He is currently living in Houston, TX.

What have you been up to since you graduated from Hartt?

After graduating from Hartt in 1995, I went to the University of Michigan to work on a master degree in trumpet performance.  Although I did my undergraduate work in Music Theory at Hartt, it was the opportunity to study with great teachers, like Chris Gekker, Roger Murtha and Jay Lichtmann which really got me excited about trumpet playing.  Those opportunities, combined with the opportunities to play a good deal of heavy duty repertoire with the Hartt Symphony Orchestra, really lit a fire in me for orchestral trumpet performance.

After finishing my masters, I freelanced, taught lessons and took a ton of orchestral auditions. Well, 37 to be exact but who’s counting.  My wife and I moved to Houston, Texas and in 2004 an opportunity to work as the assistant personnel manager of the Houston Symphony presented itself.  

Constant auditioning and no orchestral job to show for it was beginning to take its toll so I figured that I would try an administrative position and if it turns out that I really miss trumpet playing then I’d know for sure to keep auditioning.  As it turns out, I really enjoyed working closely with the orchestra, even in a non-playing capacity and I’ve been working in orchestral management ever since.  After being the Asst. PM, I became the Personnel Manager and worked in that capacity for about 7 years. Personnel Managers occupy a crucial link between orchestral musicians and their employer.  It is also really thrilling to be in this part of the business and seeing all the work behind the scenes that goes into how a full-time Symphony orchestra operates.  As you might imagine, having a background as a musician was invaluable in this role.

What are you involved with right now?

Currently I still work for the Houston Symphony but am now the Director of Community Partnerships.  In this role, I help develop community relevant concerts and programming and also maintain the relationships with a number of community organizations, social service agencies and other cultural institutions.  This summer, we just launched a new Community Embedded Musician program.  This is a new group of string musicians who focus primarily on teaching and community work while also appearing as substitute musicians with the orchestra.  I also help advance the Symphony’s diversity and inclusion initiatives as it pertains to the Symphony’s relevance within the community.

What is one of your most memorable things about your time at Hartt?

What was most memorable about Hartt were the friendships and networks that were developed and are still valued and in use today.

What did you learn during while at Hartt that you did not appreciate or recognize until after time passed and you had some time to reflect?

Beautiful Life - Jimmy Greene

I had the pleasure of attending a performance last night by Jimmy Greene ('97).  He was performing with his quartet at The Side Door jazz club in Old Lyme, Connecticut.  The Side Door is an excellent venue attached to the Old Lyme Inn, both of which are owned by Ken and Jan Kitchings. The club is now one of the most important jazz venues in New England and worthy of our support.  (As an extra bonus, Jimmy Macbride, son of Hartt professor David Macbride, was performing in the quartet last night.)

The primary reason for attending The Side Door last night was, however, being able to hear Jimmy.  He has been performing music from his recent album, Beautiful Life.  If you have not yet purchased a copy of the album, do yourself and others a favor and do so.  The music itself makes the purchase well worth your investment.  There is, no doubt, that Jimmy is a wonderful composer, musician, and saxophonist.  As a [former] saxophonist myself, I was so very appreciative of and inspired by Jimmy's craft as a saxophonist.  He is among the very best tenor saxophonists I have ever heard.
There are additional reasons to purchase the album and treat yourself to attending Jimmy's performances.  Beautiful Life also features appearances by Kenny Barron, Cyrus Chestnut, Javier Colon, Christian McBride, Pat Metheny, musicians of the Hartford Symphony, and others.  Jimmy's composition are wonderful and the performances don't leave the listener wanting for anything but to listen again.
Most importantly, as many of you are aware, Ana Grace Greene, the daughter of Jimmy and his wife, Nelba Marquez-Greene ('97), was murdered on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Beautiful Life is a celebration of Ana's life.  For a message from Jimmy, please click here.

As Jimmy says "I want the music to reflect the way that Ana lived." Proceeds from Beautiful Life support the Ana Grace Project and The Artists Collective.

Here is Jimmy's upcoming performance schedule.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Video - Foot in the Door ensemble performs in Iceland

In preparation for Foot in the Door’s two performances at the 2015 Dark Music Days Festival, Iceland’s annual showcase for innovative and progressive contemporary music at Harpa in Reykjav√≠k, the group went on a whirlwind mini-tour of the countryside giving three drop-in concerts along the way.

Hartt's contingent included current students, faculty and alumni. 

Here is a video of the tour produced by Hartt faculty member, Gabe Herman.