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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: Northwestern University

Insights on Playing from Mallory Thompson

Andrew Hitz

"I think that….wherever you are in your career, it’s all the same…you’re working on the same things…making good attacks, making good releases, playing musically, showing a wide dynamic range, and not taking anything musical for granted."

-Dr. Mallory Thompson (Director of Bands at Northwestern University)

Dr. Thompson is probably the best conductor I've ever played for in my career. I had the privilege of being in her first band at Northwestern on the heels of being in John Paynter's last band there.

The beauty of her as an educator is that she demands the exact same things of everyone in front of her, like the list above.

Pleasing a set of ears like Mallory Thompson's is not complicated. It's just a lot of work long before you sit down in front of her.

Northwestern University Symphonic Wind Ensemble: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

I was lucky enough to play in the Northwestern University Symphonic Wind Ensemble under both John Paynter and Mallory Thompson.  Those performances rank as some of my most cherished in my career.  The level of musicianship that was demanded of me by both conductors as well as the colleagues I was surrounded by was intense and exhilarating.

Filling the shoes of John Paynter, an absolute legend in the band world, was no easy task.  Mallory Thompson stepped in from day one as if that job had been waiting for her all along.  She remains one of the most rewarding conductors I have ever played for.  Nothing gets past her ears.  Nothing.

This is a fantastic recording of Johann Sebastian Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" arranged by Donald Hunsberger.  As with all great university wind ensembles of this caliber, it is hard to believe these are college kids.  And Mallory Thompson's interpretation is, as always, spot on.