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  • Joshua Britton

2021 – Personal Year in Review

During the October 16th EPO performance, I was invited on stage to introduce my new book, an anthology entitled "The Notes Will Carry Me Home," along with several contributing authors.

2021 was a challenging year for many, and I’m no exception. Besides the obvious unrest on the national level, the pandemic contributed to a professionally frustrating year for me, a year which also included a difficult move two hours away.

But Spring of 2021 was an exciting time as the finishing touches on my first book, Tadpoles, were being made. My father put in overtime as proofreader and formatter. Together we looked at dozens of our favorite books to decide on a font and the size of margins. Frank Gordon gave me multiple paintings to choose from for the cover, all of which were fantastic, and I ended up using two, when I had only planned on using one, one each for the front and the back. John McMullen polished it off, making arrangements with a graphic designer, assigning it an ISBN, registering it with the Library of Congress, and ultimately publishing and printing it.

Finally getting my first copies of the finished product was an incredible and surreal moment. Despite my annoying shyness, I loved how many of my friends and acquaintances wanted a copy, and how everyone wanted their copies signed with my pathetic excuse for a signature. And, even more, I loved hearing everyone’s thoughts on the stories, which stories were their favorites, and which bits of my “real life” that I had mixed in they recognized.

As poor as I am at self-promotion, I enjoyed giving a couple of readings, and I hope to give many many more. My voice is nothing to write home about, but I’ve been told I’m a good reader anyway, and I like doing it.

About this time I gave two recitals with a trumpet-playing friend, Addisson Grimm. This was especially refreshing as most of the previous year had been bare from a trombone-playing standpoint. Together, at both venues, we played Eric Ewazen’s An Elizabethan Songbook and Herbert L. Clarke’s Cousins. By myself I played I Was Like Wow, by JacobTV, for trombone and boombox, and an unaccompanied piece by Michael Davis called Stage Harbor. Later in the same month I performed Bone Idyll by Derek Bourgeois with Pat Stuckemeyer and River Brass. There’s nothing better for your personal practicing than having these kinds of solo performances to work toward, and they will go down as all-time trombone-playing highlights for me.

I then had two new short stories published after Tadpoles came out: Trumpet Fingerings in Rhodora Magazine and Involvement in YAWP, both music-themed but in different ways.

In the summer, my full attention was turned to compiling and editing The Notes Will Carry Me Home, for which I solicited twenty-eight contributors, chose the order in which they would appear, re-enlisted my father’s help with the formatting, and worked with Cedric Hustace as he provided the cover art. This was all a new and fulfilling experience for me. My own contribution to the anthology is an essay on classical music in Stanley Kubrick’s films. I watched several of his movies with a notebook by my side. Great fun.

The Notes was premiered at the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra concert, Literature in Music, in October. I was invited on stage, along with a few other contributors, to talk about the book, and the book was sold in the lobby that night, as well as during the next couple of concerts. I was interviewed by the magazine News4U who published a nice write-up about it; News4U had also written about Tadpoles a couple of months earlier. Contributor John Michael O’Leary, publisher and contributor John McMullen, and I appeared on the @530 and Main podcast to talk about the book.

I was also fortunate to be able to return to Evansville as a performer with the Philharmonic several times as well as with the Symphonic Band. The Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet will go down as another all-time career highlight. Finally, in Louisville, I had my first paid gigs as a Louisville resident in December.

As for the future, I’m optimistic. For trombone, I don’t have anything specifically planned though I’m optimistic that things will grow for me here, and there are two new-to-me groups that I am joining within the next couple of weeks.

I do, however, have several writing projects in the works. Several new short stories are either looking for homes or are in progress, as well as an essay on “trombone in ska.” I have a novel called The Auditioner I would like to publish, and I’m tentatively planning on a second short story collection for 2023.

As I wrote earlier, I’m not much of a self-promoter, despite this self-indulgent blog post. Thanks for reading, and thanks for continuing to read. To 2022—hopefully a better year than the two previous!

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