Ensemble ACJW and I are spending the week up at Skidmore College in preparation for tomorrow night’s big gig. It’s been an eventful few days! Today I conducted a composition class of undergrads. I gave them a few tips on string quartet writing, and then subjected them to some of my music. What fun! Every interaction I’ve had with a student here has been lovely, they have none of the intellectual surliness of Yale unda-grads. A band of us even invaded one of their dorms last night, and put on a kind of “guerrilla concert”; everybody was very polite and stopped to listen, and didn’t even ask us to leave when we played a very sloppy rendition of Les Moutons de Panurge.
There is, confusingly, a brand-new Zankel Hall at Skidmore; I think I’ll start spelling the one in NYC differently, for clarity (Txank’l? Czänchle?). Anyway. The one up here is glorious; the photo above is the Ensemble rehearsing my piece. In back of the stage is a giant window, as tall as the entire auditorium, Rose Hall at Lincoln Center-style, except here the view is of colorful trees and rolling hills rather than Columbus Circle (I find each view to be equally valid). It’s strange to find that sort of “world-class” type of facility at such a small and remote school, but I suppose it becomes a cultural magnet in a way that it wouldn’t at, say, Yale, where it might be too close to New York. Speaking of which: this type of new building (along with similar such halls at Bard and elsewhere) should be giving Yale a concert hall inadequacy complex. Sprague sure is nice but it can’t fit a full orchestra, much less seat the entire student body.
Also, I don’t feel as if I’ve been out of college very long, but I already forgot how many people wear sweatpants! In New York there’s kind of an unspoken dress code; I would feel out of place wearing flip flops on the subway, for example, or into a restaurant. Maybe a lot of people here are majoring in lifeguarding?