Feb. 4 2016: traveled from New York City to Pascack Hills High School in Montvale, New Jersey, hosted by Chris Wilhjelm.

Rehearsing Angel of Mercy with the St. Olaf Band  and Dr. Tim Mahr in Montvale, NJ

Rehearsing Angel of Mercy with the St. Olaf Band and Dr. Tim Mahr in Montvale, NJ

The St. Olaf Band had been on tour and had done at least six performances of the piece before I heard the music for the first time at Chris Wilhjelm’s school. We had only an hour to rehearse.

Rehearsing Angel of Mercy with the St. Olaf Band  and Dr. Tim Mahr in Montvale, NJ

Rehearsing Angel of Mercy with the St. Olaf Band and Dr. Tim Mahr in Montvale, NJ

This was only a beginning time of my hearing into the music, and helping the band fully to embrace it. They were playing well but they were still searching for the voice of the piece.

The St. Olaf Band bassoons: (Left to Right) Joshua Kosberg, Colin Scheibner, Eliza Madden. The bassoons open Angel of Mercy with a gorgeous soli chorale.

The St. Olaf Band bassoons: (Left to Right) Joshua Kosberg, Colin Scheibner, Eliza Madden. The bassoons open Angel of Mercy with a gorgeous soli chorale.

The music wasn’t complete in my hearing, and I had to wait two days until the Saturday afternoon rehearsal in Carnegie Hall.

David Maslanka working with Dr. Timothy Mahr at  Carnegie Hall

David Maslanka working with Dr. Tim Mahr at Carnegie Hall

We got into the rehearsal at Carnegie and the transformation took place. Suddenly they got it. The group moved powerfully into full ownership, not only of Angel of Mercy, but their entire program.

David Maslanka working with Dr. Timothy Mahr at  Carnegie Hall

David Maslanka working with Dr. Tim Mahr at Carnegie Hall

This kind of change point is what I work toward with every ensemble – a combination of meditation (holding the group and conductor in my mind) and patient work to hear the true qualities of individual sounds.

The Carnegie concert was triumphant. An audience of more than a thousand gave a prolonged standing ovation for Angel of Mercy. It was a highlight moment in my life to stand in my box at Carnegie Hall
and receive that applause.

David Maslanka embraces Dr. Timothy Mahr after the Angel of Mercypremiere at Carnegie Hall

David Maslanka embraces Dr. Timothy Mahr after the Angel of Mercypremiere at Carnegie Hall

Tues., Feb. 9 travel to Northfield, MN to continue work with the St. Olaf band. Wednesday rehearsal, Thursday performance of the whole program in Minneapolis for the MMEA conference. Friday: honorary doctorate convocation. The band provided entry and exit music (Procession of the Academics, Mother Earth) and a portion of Angel of Mercy as “meditation” music before my speech. It was another unique moment for me, and quite the thing hearing Tim Mahr speak to the influence of my music in the world.