This concert showcased the twenty-two member ensemble from Middle Tennessee State University under the baton of their teacher Dr. Todd Waldecker. For many of the performers this is their first attendance at ClarinetFest and many of them are music education and music industry majors.
The group’s aim for this performance was to entertain with the theme “Everything is a Dance!” Indeed, they had the crowd moving in their seats.
The concert opened with the first movement Jig from St. Paul’s Suite, Op. 29, No. 2 by Gustav Holst. This work allowed the group to begin with a beautiful deep core sound, wonderful balance and blend, and clarity of articulation. There was also lovely dynamic contrast from the entire ensemble, but I was especially captured by the dynamic control of the three lower bass voices throughout this work.
The second work on the program was Guy Woolfenden’s multi-movement work, Three Dances for Clarinet Choir. This work opens with a calm, reflective motive that quickly shifts into a mixed meter rhythmic groove. The group did well to highlight this slightly accented rhythmic section while maintaining a light dance feel. In the Finale the ensemble displayed terrific balance and blend as they transitioned seamlessly through the rolling lines being traded between every voice during which the group sounded as one large instrument.
The last piece on the program was the Promenade (Walking the Dog) by George Gershwin from the 1937 film Shall We Dance. In the film Fred Astaire’s character is in hot pursuit of Ginger Rogers’s character. After noticing that she walks her prize poodle on the cruise ship promenade, he decides to acquire a dog (or six!) in the hopes of a “chance encounter.” The three soloists featured were Randall Chapman, Clay Hensley, and Gordon Inman. All three captured this jaunty jazzy style with all the glamour, romance, and demure of the time and I could not contain my smile during their performance.
The ensemble received a standing ovation and subsequently charmed the audience with an encore in true Polka fashion. Fun was definitely had by all at this concert!
–Notes by Senior Airman Jennifer M. Daffinee
Jennifer is a member of the United States Air Force Band of the West and is also finishing her DMA at the University of North Texas with Kimberly Cole Lluevano.