The Clarinet Music of Walter Mourant by Nancy Helene Ackerman

The series of interesting and informative lectures at ClarinetFest2014 continued Thursday morning with Nancy Ackerman’s presentation of “The Clarinet Music of Walter Mourant.” Ackerman’s relaxed personality and articulate approach were made only more pleasurable by her use of highly-detailed computer slides that were displayed as she spoke. The computer slides had pictures, audio examples that were played for the audience, and even one well-placed comic strip!

Ackerman started with information about Walter Mourant’s background, including a short description of Howard Hanson and “neo-romanticism,” as Mourant was a student of Hanson at the Eastman School of Music. After laying this foundation, Ackerman honed in on specific compositions of Mourant, including his Swing Low, Sweet Clarinet, a work that was especially popular in the United Kingdom. She also described some differing popular recordings of Swing Low, Sweet Clarinet, including the Woody Herman rendition that gained popularity in the United States.

The presentation continued with discussion of Mourant’s continued clarinet works after Swing Low, Sweet Clarinet, including Dance of the Potted Puppet, Pied Piper, and Overture to a Puppet Show, among others. Ackerman brought the presentation to an end with mention of Mourant works that were written for other instruments, including a work for harp and orchestra.

This lecture brought an interesting composer for clarinet into the spotlight, provided ample information to research him further, and left us with memory of his tunes in our ears. Yet another wonderful presentation at ClarinetFest 2014!

–Notes by Joel Auringer
Joel Auringer is a recent graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He currently maintains a private studio in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas metroplex, and will begin doctoral study at the University of North Texas in the fall.

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