by Kylie Stultz-Dessent
When Erik first approached me about becoming a member of the Novacane Quartet in the summer of 2014, I will admit, I was hesitant. At the time I was living in Cincinnati, Ohio, and had just graduated with my master’s degree from CCM. Sammy, Erik, and Keith were all living in Bloomington, Indiana, minutes away from each other and the music school. I was living almost three hours away.
How was this ever going to work??? Would they get sick of me not being around all of the time to rehearse? Would I get tired of driving 110 miles from Cincinnati to Bloomington for every rehearsal? What about gigs and concerts? LOGISTICS.
As I thought about my options for my first year out of grad school, I started to realize how excited I was about the opportunity to join the Novacane Quartet. It came at the perfect time in my career, and looking back I know it was one of the best musical decisions I have made in my life. How many clarinetists fresh out of grad school get a phone call that goes, “Hey, do you want to be a part of my professional clarinet quartet?” Here were three amazing musicians who wanted me to join their group, despite the fact that I was living over 100 miles away. I truly admired that they were willing to sacrifice convenience and time to welcome me into their group. I happily accepted Erik’s offer, and soon after became the newest member of the Novacane Quartet, without a clue of the musical opportunities in store for me!
Now, the next part of this story has to do with a little bit of luck. Planted in between Cincinnati and Bloomington is the quaint little town of Columbus, Indiana, where Sammy and I are from. It didn’t take us long to decide that this architectural landmark in the Midwest would be our home base. So, from August 2014 to June 2015, we rehearsed in my parents’ basement once a week. As a kid, I hosted many slumber parties, played video games with my sister, and even had my first kiss (!!!) in this space. Now in my twenties, this room had morphed itself into a rehearsal space for my clarinet quartet. We were like a teenage garage band, but instead of specializing in the rock songs by the Red Hot Chili Peppers or Blink 182, we played music by Mozart, Debussy, Uhl, and Bernstein.
Throughout all of this, my parents were enormously generous in allowing us to invade their space with our rehearsals each Wednesday evening. They would say things like, “What time is the band coming over this week?” or “How late is your rehearsal going to go today?” (Sometimes we had the tendency to lose track of time…) Whenever we wanted to test out a new piece or perform for some fresh ears before a competition, we would trek upstairs and play for my parents. Before the Chicago Clarinet Competition, my parents even Skyped in some of their friends for our farewell performance in the living room!
As Novacane enters into 2016, we are faced with an even bigger geographical challenge. Erik will be moving to the DC area in March to start his job with the US Army Field Band, while Keith, Sammy and I work on our doctorate degrees in Bloomington. We still have a lot of exciting projects on the forefront and plan to continue rehearsing and performing together as often as we can. Our prior rehearsal arrangements have taught us to be creative, dedicated, prepared, and resourceful when it comes to organizing performances and concerts. Although this 512 mile distance between us and Erik may be a little more daunting than our previous long distance experience, we all are committed to making 2016 one of Novacane’s best years yet!