In 2008 I went to Japan for the Japan Wind Ensemble Conductors Conference‘s premiere of Climbing Parnassus. When I returned to the U.S., I found an e-mail waiting for me from Jim Ripley, a conductor in Kenosha, WI. Jim introduced himself as not only the Director of Instrumental Activities at Carthage College there, but also the principal guest conductor of the Kurashiki Sakuyo University Wind Philharmony, the ensemble at Kurashiki University, where the JWECC conference had just been held and where I had just spent a week. He saw on the internets where I just was, and (ingeniously) knew we had to get to know each other. Since then, I’ve not only been up to Kenosha to guest conduct the Carthage College Wind Orchestra and Honor Band, but Kurashiki University became co-commissioners of the the Symphony, performing their premieres on their Japan Tour last year.
I was thrilled to get a recording of Jim’s performances a few months ago, and even though it’s taken me quite a while to get to it, I’m excited to share them. So here they are: the first two movements (Across the groaning continent, and The Americans), with the Kurashiki Sakuro University Wind Philharmony; James Ripley, conductor, in their final live premiere of Symphony No. 1, My Hands Are a City, at Civic Music Hall, Shiga City, Japan, on November 23, 2009. (It’s a large download)
The third movement (My Hands Are a City) from that performance is terrific, but it seems that the final chord was accidentally cut off in that recording. Kind of kills some of the effect of the big ending. I’m sure that can be fixed, but I’ll have to get into that at a later date. So here is Kurashiki Sakuyo’s third movement performance from their concert at Toka Gakudo (Music Hall) – Kurashiki Sakuyo University, Kurashiki, Japan
The point is the same: these are amazing musicians, doing what they do in Japan (which from what I can tell, is simply be awesome, all the time). Happily, I can actually hear how much Jim enjoys the piece in these performances. It’s hard to articulate how rewarding that is.