Mission to MOLA

As I creep towards decrepitude (I'm nearly 56!) I look back at at fabulous 40 year professional life as a bass player, and I have seen some amazing places and met some incredible people, including being privileged to meet and shake hands with Ella Fitzgerald.

Since 2005 I have been in a "day job" as well, as Performance Librarian at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (formerly known as the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama) where I manage all performance material and advise on copyright and associated institutions (PRS, PPL) as well as doing lots of gigs at night.

Right now, I'm pretty excited as I've flown out to New Orleans for the MOLA (Major Orchestra Librarian's Association) Conference which is happening over the weekend of 11-14th May.

It is great to get the chance to meet people doing the same job as me, as there is normally only one in any institution, so one tends to be a bit "out on a limb"! At the conference there will be many interesting sessions, on new media licensing and Latin American orchestral music, to name but two. Also as part of the agenda, I have the chance to attend various concerts taking place in the city, and one that I dare not miss is the New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra - a name to be reckoned with!

I shall be doing a daily update to this blog whilst in the USA, and let you know all of the news and events as they happen. This will include any gigs I attend, especially if I get some good traditional Dixie Jazz.

The fun started when I flew into Louis Armstrong International Airport - as the great man himself said often, "and that's Jazz!"

Monday, 14 May 2012

Day four and all that jazz

Last night's banquet in the Palace Cafe was great and interesting on many different levels. On entering the building we were given the choice of going upstairs either in a lift or by walking up a gorgeous curving staircase with a thick carpet underfoot on every tread. I'm quite amazed that of the people I arrived with, I was the only one to walk - and they were all younger than me! Upstairs, I was greeted with 2 tickets - one for a welcome drink (I had a cocktail called a Hurricane) and one to put at my place at table to show which main course I had selected (rib-eye steak..... more anon). Looking around the room, it was festooned with artworks and memorabilia dating back to the halcyon (or as Terry Wogan says halogen) days of jazz in the ciy - fabulous! For starter we had first a Caesar Salad (I only ate a very little as I don't like salad) then "Chicken Gumbo Ya-ya" which was an amazing spiced thick soup with rice and veg as well as the chicken, all in this lustrous thick spicy brown stock. Mmmmmmmmmm.........

As it was so piquant it made up my and my table neighbours minds that although there was house wine being poured we fancied both better and more! Rob (a US attourney specialising in music copyright law) allowed me to choose so I opted for a red called "Edna Valley" - my Mum would have been tickled pink (or rose?!?) that a wine bearing her name was available. The rib-eye main course was absolutely superb, and a hefty slab of beef, beautifully cooked. Again, Creole/ Cajun spices were in evidence but that beef was so tender and nicely pink in the middle. Yummy! The white chocolate bread pudding was for me a little bit of a let-down, but I did manage to force myself to eat it all ;-O - a hard job, but I won through.

So after that was a return to our hotel and a few social drinks with new friends before retiring to pack and get a good sleep before our final day of conference, which has just come to an end. All sessions today have been extremely interesting. They were:

1. Bruce Ridge (Chair of ISCOM - International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians) and Mary Plaine of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (my mentor and a lovely lady) talking about ISCOM and librarian advocacy. Bruce made the point about standing together and the orchestral/ performance librarian being such an important member of any ensemble who should be treated as a non playing member of the ensemble with which he/ she works. Mary offered thoughts on how to to make the librarian's role more high profile and said that members of the concert going audience are very interested to hear details of a performance librarians job.

2. Then we had a very informative chat from Bruce Boyd Raeburn, Curator of the Hogan Jazz Archive (Tulane University) which included showing slides of old photos of jazz musicians and bands almost dating back as far as the history of photography!
3. Our final session was entitled " Jazz and Symphonic Music" and the speakers included Irvin Mayfield (Artistic Director of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and Artistic Director of Jazz with the Minnesota Orchestra) and Jef Tyzik, a well known arranger and Principal Pops Conductor with the Rochester Philharmonic). Both gentlemen and their other colleagues were so interesting and informative, not to mention laid back, as one would truly expect from good jazzers......

So conference was wrapped up around an hour ago and I'm sitting thinking about all that I have learned, and the confidence in my own talents and abilities that have been reinforced by my new friends and colleagues. I know that so many of them are at the end of an email should I need them and that is a very good feeling! I have the rest of today to do some exploring on my own and hopefully catch some more jazz, and I will catch up with you all (y'all????) later and then it will be tales from 36,000 feet all over again on my route home. Have a nice day....... golly, it's catching........

Just returned to the NOLA Marriott after a lovely stroll down to the Mississippi (it's huuuuuuuge!) and I stopped to watch the departure of the Steamboat Natchez. Splendid is the word that springs to mind but also NOISY. I wondered why the workers had covered their ears but then the steam whistle went off. Aaaaah, say no more..... Soozie, not sure about which Rochester but pretty sure not Kent! I think NY but could be massive chew sets.......? I'm keeping back your full comment, expect you know why :-(. Anyhow thanks for what you said s'appreciated! Yes I had no idea that Edna's "powers" could reach so far ;-D Right - it's time to pick up my bag and walk to my hotel for the night. Depending upon wifi access, I may post later - otherwise it may have to wait until Cafe Nero at 'eef row! Tararanoo!!!


  1. How appropriate that the "Edna" wine was red - she must have been poking her finger in at the naming session, hehe. "I don't want to interfere, dear, but......."
    I'm assuming Jef Tyzik isn't from the Rochester, Kent, Philharmonic, but did you find out which Rochester it is? New York? New Hampshire? Pennsylvania? Texas? Massive chew sets?? 8-) Glad you've got affirmation of the valuable job you do in RCS. Make sure they realise it, eh? Missing you already - good grief, so it is;-) Sx

  2. Sounds like you're having a fantastic time. You won't be looking forward to coming back to 'auld clae's and parritch' after so much wining and dining!


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