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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: Lawrence Conservatory

The Brass Junkies 72: Michael Clayville of Alarm Will Sound

Andrew Hitz

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TBJ72: Trombonist Michael Clayville from Alarm Will Sound on Playing with Medeski, Martin & Wood, How AWS Functions as an Ensemble and Teaching at Lawrence Conservatory as a Visiting Professor

Michael Clayville is one of my favorite trombonists in the world. His playing in Alarm Will Sound is just stunning. The music they perform has incredibly demanding parts, especially of a trombone player! But Michael is one of the most prepared musicians I've ever played with. He's a machine!

He's also a fascinating guy. I interviewed him early for TEM (TEM3 which was 116 episodes ago at this point!) and I was really happy to finally get him on The Brass Junkies!

From the show notes:

Michael Clayville is a musician who is passionate about drawing audiences deeply into the art of sound. His abilities as a trombone soloist, chamber musician, and improviser have taken him to prestigious venues around the world including Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Hall, the Barbican (London) and the Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ (Amsterdam) and have led to him working with some of the most prominent classical and popular artists today including Pulitzer Prize-winning composers Steve Reich, John Adams, John Luther Adams, Charles Wuorinen, and David Lang, and experimental groups like Medeski Martin and Wood, and the Dirty Projectors.

Michael is a founding member of Alarm Will Sound, a group that has been awarded the ASCAP Concert Music Award for “the virtuosity, passion and commitment with which they perform and champion the repertory for the 21st century” and which has been called the “future of classical music” by the New York Times. In addition to being its trombonist, Michael is also the Director of Marketing for Alarm Will Sound.

In this episode, we cover:

  • Playing with Medeski, Martin and Wood
  • Picking repertoire in Alarm Will Sound by quasi-democratic methods
  • Marketing efforts/social media for AWS
  • Splitting Adams CD
  • The Mizzou International Composers Festival
  • Georg Friedrich Haas
  • Teaching at Lawrence, working for/with Brian Pertl

The Entrepreneurial Musician: Brian Pertl, Dean of the Lawrence Conservatory

Andrew Hitz

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Brian is the Dean of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music and a former ethnomusicologist for Microsoft. After interviewing him for the podcast I was filled with optimism for the future of collegiate music education in this country. I also wanted to high five him.

He is the perfect meld of artist and businessman and I learned a ton from speaking with him for an hour.

Brian touched on a wide range of topics in this episode including:

  • How a $50 gig playing the didgeridoo led to his full-time employment for 16 years at Microsoft which led to him becoming a dean
  • Always saying yes when asked if you are capable of something
  • The importance of pivoting in one's career
  • How giving people autonomy over projects can unleash creativity
  • The value of questioning traditions within music
  • Being ready to seize an opportunity

His passion for combining artistic expression with entrepreneurial skills has him on the cutting edge of what a music education should look like at the collegiate level today.

Books Mentioned:

The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris

The Savvy Musician by David Cutler

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath & Dan Heath


Contact Brian:

Brian's TEDx Talk:


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Next Episode: Jeff Conner of Boston Brass and author of "The Portfolio Musician"