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  • Kate Amrine

my Mississippi tour – Music by Women Festival + masterclass at MSU

Updated: Jul 8, 2019


On Sunday the 4th, I got back into New York City from a couple days in Mississippi where I was performing at the Mississippi University for Women’s Music by Women Festival. I played a whole mini recital including my own piece “As I Am,” Ariel Marx’s piece “Cassiopeia” for Trumpet and Electronics, Jinhee Han’s extended technique crazy piece “Yaygara,” and two movements “Threaded” and “Breaking” – from Jennifer Higdon’s piece Trumpet Songs for trumpet and piano.  I also presented a masterclass at Mississippi State University where I played my piece “As I Am,” listened to four students play for me, and talked about music entrepreneurship and creating your own career. So fun!

It was my first time in the south and I had such an interesting time interacting with the people, the history of the area, and eating some great food. On my way to Mississippi I actually flew into Atlanta so that I could make it into a roadtrip and make the travel a bit more enjoyable. I had some great vegan food in Atlanta after I drove into downtown (sorry meat eaters!).Then I drove to Alabama and checked out the Birmingham Civil Rights institute which was an incredibly powerful museum. My thoughts on the museum could take up a whole post on its own but I will say that they had a whole section on music involved with the protests and that was very interesting. I followed that experience by going to Hero Doughnuts, Birmingham’s highest rated donut place according to Yelp, where I had a unbelievable Pistachio donut. And for the record, I don’t even like pistachios. I finally ended up in Columbus, Mississipi where I attended the three days of the Music by Women Festival. Every day there were at least 3 concerts and several lectures and presentations — all dedicated to music by female composers. Many of the composers were in attendance as well so it was such an amazing time interacting with other performers and composers. The Mississippi University for Women also has a fantastic Culinary Arts program which graciously accompanied the two receptions that were had for the Festival participants. It was so fun talking to everyone at the festival over some great food!

A big group of us spent a whole day together going out to eat and walking around the downtown area and that was my favorite day of the festival! Don’t get me wrong, listening to these incredible concerts and presentations was fantastic, but it was definitely refreshing and inspiring to talk with the other participants about what they are up to and all that fun stuff. 

This was actually the third festival I have performed at that has a focus on women. Last year I performed a recital at the Women Composers Festival of Hartford and the International Women’s Brass Conference. Since I was performing music from my album, in that sense – it was very comfortable and familiar – which made the whole experience much more comfortable and familiar. Even so, I definitely learned a couple things that I will do differently next time!

 SOME THINGS I LEARNED:

Allow extra time for traveling and relaxing after the stress of traveling

I’m not new to traveling of course, after doing my Masters at Peabody and constantly going back and forth from Baltimore to NYC, yet since that was just a bus ride and not driving + a plane – I think it was a bit different. Traveling can be so exhausting! When I got back to NYC after traveling all day, I jumped right in to a rehearsal and wow that was not my favorite rehearsal in the world! Taking time to relax is super important.

Make the performance as simple as possible

Many of the participants there played one or two pieces as their entire recital and since my pieces were so short, I ended up playing 5 pieces. They were solo pieces, one with electronics, and two movements with piano. In the future, I will definitely try and make it simpler by only doing unaccompanied works and/or maybe a few with electronics. 

SOME FAVORITE PARTS OF THE FESTIVAL (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)

reconnecting with Joanna Ross Hersey and Megan Boutin and representing the female brass world hearing a piece for bass clarinet and electronics with frogs in the tape trackLori Laitman’s piece “I never saw another butterfly” a piano piece with accompanying video and electronicsa percussion duo performing music inspired by their new lives as mothersa presentation on trombonist Melba Listoneating vegetables at one of the receptions (there weren’t too many veggies available down south!)an unbelieveable catfish po boy going on a run around a lake wearing only a t shirt since it was 70 degreesbuying a cute little black dress at the local thrift store that is perfect for gigs!hearing the director of the festival Julia Mortyakova play several beautiful pieces and set up the whole festival so smoothly in only its second year!!

and many more!

MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE MASTERCLASS:

On the first day of the festival, I drove to Mississippi State University and had lunch with Dr. Anthony Kirkland, the trumpet professor. I ate some amazing rice and beans, fried okra, mac and cheese, and cornbread. YUM!

Fortunately I didn’t go into a food coma because my masterclass was shortly after. I introduced myself to the students, performed my piece for them, listened to two trumpets and two trombone players play for me, and then talked about music entrepreneurship.

SOME THINGS I LOVED ABOUT MY TIME AT MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY: 

performing my own piece “As I Am” 📷answering some great insightful questions from students at MSU speaking with the students about creating their own opportunities + being a creative and proactive teacher to their studentsworking with the students on their solo pieces and excerptshearing the goals of the students and what they are working towards

It was so much fun hearing them play and ask questions about my time freelancing in NYC and I look forward to giving more masterclasses in the future !

Stay tuned for more updates about future performance and teaching opportunities ! I will be sending out an email blast soon so please join my email list here if you want to stay in the loop. 

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