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What's Next?

If you watched THE WEST WING, you know that's President Josian Bartlett's catchphrase. He's done, he's processed and he's ready to move onto the next thing.

Since the concert with the Dream Orchestra, I believe the time has helped me figure out where I want to go.

When you produce something of the magnitude of that concert, it's a life a changing event. It shaves years off your life expectancy and sucks everything out of you, but you feel like you accomplished something.

Since then, I have been very pleased to participate in concerts where I was the invited soloist, and at the time I thought that I loved not having to produce the show. But in truth, you get to the end of the performance and go "so what". It doesn't stay with you. And even more aggravating when you put in a bunch of work and have to go chase down your check... twice. I just deleted three paragraphs on "concert math" and will replace them with this simple statement. I've learned that musicians, even talented ones, don't always have the highest math acumen.

So really, what is next? I left my job at Johnson Fain in October 2014 and started at another architecture firm, Gensler, in May 2015. Because clearly my career goal is to be a C-Level Executive Assistant in a field I just stumbled upon.

I started thinking about a solo show and then an ebook (see the I HATE PRACTICE entry). And I went around and around on what concerto I might be learning next.

In very many ways, I am glad the solo show and the ebook did not happen. For this simple reason. They were cowardly. It was me saying WHAT'S NEXT with the caveat of 'that I can don't have to spend much money on.'

Because of the book, I started to hold back on the blog... and the solo show had no real new piano material in it.

When I got done with the Dream concert, the first thing I wanted to do was an all original concert next. Somehow I got off track on that when a conductor I mentioned it to talked about doing the Prokofiev 2 instead. And then "Rhapsody in Blue" came up (another old thing), and then discussions of the Barber Piano Concerto. And suddenly I'm so far off track, it's time to rein that back in.

So musically, I started thinking, I'm going to add a big original to the back end of the solo show -- but score it only for percussion and celli and piano... largely, again, to keep the budget down.

And then, somehow while talking to my mom, it hit me... stop planning to the money. I think I've had that issue in film script writing too, where I've written what I can afford to shoot. Drop the minimal orchestration, plan a full concert with a huge original, and learn how to do the money better for the next one. (Oh, and get financial commitments from conductors in writing.)

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The biggest comment I have gotten while on this refinding music era, is so are you still writing... scripts? The answer is no. Part of it is I haven't had anything to say. Never mind being busy with work and piano.

But now I've been hovering at a crossroads. What IS next?

If you've known me long enough, you know I've always been talking about doing a two person play. (And this is not a budgetary thing, this is a thing of can you construct a story that is compelling enough to hold an audience's attention with just two people.) And yes, I've been mulling and mulling an idea... which is usually how it goes until it just gets cranked out.

And now I need to tell you the story of two Megans who may have put me back on track.

Megan Dolan, I have known for a while. We saw RENT in NY with the original cast. That's how long. She did a one woman show, SNACK, over the summer... which, even if I hadn't known her (because a lot of times you give your friends leeway when you see them in something... which I'm sure I get a lot of when I'm performing) was freaking amazing! It was funny, emotional, moving... and all that was bothering me was that I wanted it to go on for another hour and I HATE tiny black box theatres.

But then what I realized I wanted to do was produce this in a larger venue. I read recently that theatre producers have to be compelled (which is why I keep using this work) to put something on stage. This is a show I thought I really do want to bring to a larger audience. Megan and I talked about it, and although we are not doing this immediately... you know, because she's a mom and has to write more material, etc., it is one of those shows that suddenly fell into my five year plan.

Megan Kuhlmann, is the Executive Assistant to the Co-CEO at Gensler (my boss's boss). Everyone tells me we have the two hardest jobs there. But my job pales in comparison to hers. She has the far more complicated executive. My boss even told me that there is one person who runs the office... Megan.

On the side, Megan mentioned she did stand up comedy. To me this was a lot like when I met Danny Cole at a wedding, and he told me he did magic for a living, and I nodded my head... not realizing until later that Danny is indeed a professional magician who makes 5 or 10 times my salary and travels around the world performing.

I finally fit Megan's comedy show into my calendar -- somewhere in the Arts District, in a space with an unmarked door, where I was sure I would not see my car when I got back to it -- and Megan is up 3rd out of 12. Megan does not do stand up comedy as a hobby -- she KILLS it and should be leaving Gensler to make a living at this.

I got asked to pull the live event producing from the TRW days to do the Gensler 50th anniversary and our bosses' 60th birthday celebration last week. Megan does a set. It is very hard not to be in admiration of what she does. Because while I'm procrastinating and figuring out what's next... Megan, with the more difficult boss, performs all the time, writes her material, hones it, stresses about it, refines it and gets up and makes you forget she's Andy's assistant. She is a star. Megan Kuhlmann also... boy would I LOVE to produce a comedy concert of hers. And if she can laser focus on comedy while assisting Andy, what the F is my problem right now?

Yes, there is no argument that once I decide on something, I zero in. But I've been deciding for a while here. But with Megan and Megan, the plan really did get formulated... to get back to writing and music and producing live events... because those are things I highlight on my resume.

Once that got decided, the 5 year plan rolled itself out. At least one major event a year -- half theatre half music. And I will not always be at the center of them, because there are really compelling people who should be seen as well.

My story that I was mulling fell into place, and so that script is on its way. And my realization was with that is... while I read play after play while on a break, I do not have to and should not be mimicking the style just because it was successful. Original plays take a bit to develop. And write something that is just as thrilling as the two Megans.

Don't give up on the original concert idea. Stay on your path and don't follow someone else's plan for you.

Don't choose the easy way out.

In the sense of, I'm ready to attack and move forward.


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