Putting together a chamber ensemble to perform new and neglected music is something I've been wanting to do for years. I never got around to it in Phoenix, though, partly because I had other outlets for performance, and partly because my (limited) training as a conductor has taken place relatively recently.
I've done it now, however, and though we are as of yet unnamed, our first concert is Wednesday afternoon. We will perform Benno Sach's arrangement of Debussy's Prelude sur l'apres-midi d'un faune and Frederic Rzewski's Coming Together. I am aware that the Debussy is neither new nor neglected, but I wanted to start off with something everyone would be familiar with, a toe with which to test the water before the Rzewski, the musical equivalent of a cannonball.
It's not my first public concert as a conductor, but it sure feels like it. Conducting in London at the College seems to be — even if it isn't — far more high-pressure than in supportive Phoenix. I have a great group of players assembled — including the unstoppable pianist, Antoine, that I met at the Cortona festival two summers ago — but the Rzewski is a fiendishly difficult piece to keep together. We'll see what happens.
For anyone interested, here is the College's blurb about it on their events listing: