If opera was not already entertaining enough, David Jones made it even more so Thursday afternoon in his excerpt master class. Jones’s expert knowledge of what the rest of the orchestra is doing during each of the clarinet excerpts performed, and the opera storyline taking place during the solos drove his suggestions, along with a lighthearted approach to what he does in the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra every day.
Three students performed for Mr. Jones: Rachel Selice on La Forza del Destino, The Barber of Seville and Cosi fan tutte, Jesse White on Luisa Miller and La Traviata, and Roy Park on Tosca and the slow solo from La Forza del Destino. Each student played well initially, and with great improvement upon hearing Mr. Jones’s suggestions. Ms. Selice played with excellent attention to accent and articulation markings in the music, Mr. White with barely-there pianos, and Mr. Park with artful expression and a consistent tone.
Speaking from his experience playing in the orchestra, sitting on audition panels and his own auditions, which led to his current position, Jones knew immediately how to improve each excerpt. His suggestions focused on matching intonation between key intervals, playing with a singing quality, rhythmic integrity with regard for the type of music being played, thoughtful musical choices, and frequent tongue-in-cheek references to getting “the hand” from conductors, to play softer. Jones’s demonstrations (after not having played his clarinet for a week) displayed his mastery of the genre. With a buttery legato that carried to the last seat in the hall and intuitive musicianship, Jones allowed the students to learn and improve just by listening.
The master class began with an enlightening interview of Jones by Lisa Canning. Jones shared that he was inspired to play the clarinet by his grandfather who also played. Jones prides himself in being known as a team player when it comes to the clarinet because of his ensemble playing instincts and desire for collaboration. The highlight of the masterclass showcased this, as Jones played the second clarinet part, by memory, to the Tosca solo and Park played first. Those who attended found themselves chuckling and learning throughout the class, and those who played became better opera clarinetists due to Jones’s guidance.
–Notes by Alaina Pritz
Alaina Pritz is a recent graduate from The University of Maryland and currently plays with The United State Air Force Band – Band of the Golden West.