Some of my readers know that I have a career as an analyst at Gartner, Inc., the world’s largest IT advisory services company. We just held our flagship conference, Symposium/IT Expo, in Orlando, FL, where I delivered the keynote presentation to an audience of about 12,500, live and via broadcast.
I was asked at this conference to deliver a 1/2 hour harmonica performance to an audience of Chief Information officers (CIOs). I did so on Wednesday, where I performed a short (20 minutes) set of solo compositions and arrangements that included Little Walter’s “Too late,” Ben Tucker’s “Comin’ Home Baby”, the traditional american cowboy song “Billy the Kid,” and my own compositions “Big 17,” “New Country Stomp,” and “Widow’s Walk,” all of which are included in my solo CDs “The Act of Being Free in One Act” and “The Second Act of Free Being”.
In the last third of this performance, I used something that I heard at Sacramento SPAH a few years ago, when someone handed out harmonicas to a crowd of kids; I remember to this day the amazing sound, like a giant, organic pipe organ, that the kids produced just by breathing in and out on their instruments more or less together. Gartner’s Events team bought about 50 harmonicas (Suzuki Folkmasters) in the key of C, and we handed them out to the CIOs at the performance. I told them to breathe in and out (and bend their knees so as not to fall over when their systems oxygenated), and then I played a simple line over the top. It sounded as expected–big and cool–and the CIOs loved it. I ended the show by signing everyone’s new harmonicas with a Sharpie. The whole thing was filmed, and I’ll advise if and when video is available for viewing.
Images from Richard Hunter solo harmonica performance plus ensemble performance with CIOs at Gartner Symposium/ITXpo, Orlando, FL, October 2014
We’re repeating this performance at our Gartner Symposium events in Brazil (late October) and Barcelona (early November), so any CIOs reading this attending either of those events should be sure to show up, ready to listen and play. I expect the Brazilian CIOs in particular to tear it up, given the general (high) level of musicality in Brazil. And, of course, I hope to connect with Wim Dijkgraaf, the terrific harmonica player and composer, in Sao Paolo. (It occurs to me that we might even be able to arrange for a duet during the performance there–wouldn’t that be something to remember! I better get on the phone to Wim right now…)