June in Buffalo

June in Buffalo

If some day you are lucky enough to be chosen to participate as a student-participant for a future June in Buffalo festival—or if you fancy a little trip down memory lane, Buffalo style—here a handful of tips to know before you go (or wish you knew ahead of time).

  • Lug a tons of scores with you.

    Yes, I know how stupid this sounds, but in order to avoid burdening your significant other with a trip to the nearest FedEx office, even if you think you won’t need that stupid piano piece you wrote five years ago, bring it. And bring multiple copies of it too. The fact is you are going to be showing your music to a lot of people. You might want to strategize here. If you know a particular faculty member has an expertise in a certain area that one of your compositions addresses, then it’s best to have that composition in your suitcase. The point to bringing multiple copies is so your fellow student can follow along while a faculty composer listens to and critiques the work. Besides, you might want to unload a copy to that brilliant pianist you just met.

  • Pack a jacket and umbrella.

    You can leave the snowshoes at home, but seriously, the weather in upstate New York can get cold—even during the first week of June. That said, also bring some shorts and sandals. If you’ve never experienced a 40-degree change in temperature in under a week, you’re in for the thrill ride of your life.

  • Bring some party music.

    By this I do not mean the latest Bang on a Can All-Stars album. After listening to contemporary music all day and all night, you will need some Justin Timberlake, MGMT, or whatever floats your boat, cleans out your ears, or makes a good backdrop for boozing it up—if that’s your thing.

  • Take an iPod dock or a boombox (or in some cases earplugs).

    Yes, it will take up a lot of room in your luggage, but this will guarantee that your corner of the dorms will be the after-concert party meeting ground. However, if you know you are misanthropic and will in no way, shape, or form hangout with the amazing people that you would otherwise meet at June in Buffalo, some earplugs would be recommended.

  • Always have some granola bars in your bag.

    Unless you actually enjoy Burger King’s breakfast offerings, then something to munch on while you make the 15-minute migration from the dorms to the music building really comes in handy. With such a tight schedule, and very limited dining options, it’s best to have something to graze on handy at all times. (Buffalo is the first, and only, municipality to have served, unannounced to me, a deep-fried veggie burger—it was a disgusting grease-sponge, but I was starving. Oh, and those famous wings you’ve heard about are very messy, so carry extra Wet-Naps.)

  • Rent a car or simply befriend someone with a car as soon as possible.

    This is urgent. You do not want to be trapped on campus the entire week. There are beer runs to make, rations to procure, and places to see beyond the University at Buffalo campus.

  • Visit the music library.

    Even if you’re bibliophobic, make a pilgrimage to the music department’s library. Get your geek on. They have an amazing collection of scores and recordings, and you can check your email to boot. Interesting aside: There’s a little note penned by the bookbinding outfit the library farms out work to inside Gérard Grisey’s Prologue from Les Espaces Acoustiques declaring the tome to be the largest item they’ve ever bound.

  • Get off campus any chance you get.

    I know, Buffalo doesn’t sound that glamorous as far as sightseeing goes. But they do have the amazing Albright-Knox Art Gallery, which has a surprisingly deep collection of contemporary art. Don’t miss the James Turrell, if it’s still on display. Believe me, you’re going to want to have more than one off-campus meal, so hassle that friend with the car you met on day one and find a good lunch spot.

  • Listen more closely to arguments you disagree with.

    It’s a lot more interesting to learn about points of view that you happen to disagree with than it is to dismiss things outright. But you already knew that.

  • Be sure to thank David Felder, J.T. Rinker, and Jessica Yacovoni for the fantastic experience.

    They deserve to hear it.

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