I just realized that it has been since September since I've posted a blog. This of course coincides with the beginning of this academic year. And it's been quite a year! So I thought I'd just share some of the highlights.
Two CDs of mine have been released: The Complete Piano and Wind Chamber Music of Francis Poulenc, and Pieces and Passages with violinist Scott Conklin and pianist Jason Sifford. (See "Discography" for details.) The Poulenc has been languishing in my desk drawer for some time. It was actually recorded back in 2006. After being rejected by a few labels and the suicide of my dear friend and colleague Mark Weiger (this represents his last solo recording), I wasn't able to muster the energy to deal with this recording. However now that it is finally released (on MSR), I have realized some things about myself. First of all, when dealing with performances and recordings, you must distance yourself from the result. As long as you did your work and gave it your best effort, then the result is what it is. Secondly, I realized that I am a good pianist. I have earned the right to be proud of my work. And no one can take that away from me.
I was also promoted to Full Professor (the board of regents still need to vote upon it, but, fingers crossed, that should be a formality). I am very grateful to me colleagues, peers, and outside reviewers for their support, mentorship, and time. Fun fact: I got tenure and promotion to full professor while being in provisional facilities after the flood of 2008.
In January I recorded my next album, this time with the fabulous tuba player John Manning. This is a great example of where instrument or repertoire (both are great) do not matter. Playing with a great musician like John is such an honor and pleasure.
I was part of the search committee for our new oboe professor. My time at the University of Iowa has been closely linked to the oboe studio. When I arrived back in 2003, Mark Weiger soon became my best friend and mentor. His death in 2008 was huge blow. That same year, the great flood decimated our school. In 2009 Andrew Parker assumed the position of oboe professor and quickly established himself as one of the greatest oboist of his generation, as well as an amazing musician. I had the great pleasure of performing with him multiple times, as well as recording a fantastic CD, which should be released any day now. We are very sad to see him go to The University of Texas, Austin. But I am also happy for him! Starting this fall, we are extremely excited to welcome Courtney Miller to our faculty. She is an exciting, energetic oboist, with many fantastic ideas. She is a wonderful, fun person and a great teacher. I am really looking forward to future collaborations with her and I am sure that she is going to continue our great oboe tradition, as we move into our new School of Music in the fall of 2016.
For the first time in awhile, I did a couple of solo recitals. (I've focusing more on concerti lately.) I had actually forgotten how much I enjoyed it. So I vow to do them more regularly!
Finally, on a personal note, this year has a been a year of great growth. My step sons Gabriel and Ethan are growing up before my very eyes. They are becoming so mature, articulate, and independent. I am so proud of them. Frederic, my 2 y/o is quite something... He keeps me on my toes. It is so exciting to see his development. I just wish I could spend even more time with him.
Finally, the growth of my relationship with my beautiful wife Heather has been amazing. Our love gains strength every day. I am so devoted to her. I would not have been able to have all of my professional success without her being my rock, my cheerleader, and my inspiration.