ClarinetFest 2014 continued into the weekend, with two outstanding groups this Saturday morning in Shaver Theater. The dazzling clarinet choir of the Universidad Distrital Francisco Jose de Caldas from Bogota, Columbia brought some South American styles to the stage, followed by some more traditional (but no less entertaining!) offerings from the Houston Symphonic Band Clarinet Ensemble. Universidad Distrital’s program consisted of tunes with idioms from multiple places in South America, including Venezuela and their native Columbia. Their rapid, powerful technique was matched by the precise conducting of their leader, Jorge Andrés Vélez Ospina. Many ensemble members stood for easygoing, powerful solos, including bass clarinetist Marian Marcela Trujillo. Audience members and clarinet choir alike were clapping in rhythm during multiple pieces. At least one of the wonderful works was arranged by a member of the choir, Juan Carlos Castañeda, and the conductor mentioned the group’s need for a publisher. What a shame if these fine arrangements are not heard by many more!
Following Universidad Distrital, the audience was treated to a larger clarinet choir known as the Houston Symphonic Band Clarinet Ensemble. Formed from the clarinet members of the Houston Symphonic Band in Texas, this group presented a wide variety of pieces from the Western literature, including works of Gordon Jacob, Camille Saint-Saëns, and J.S. Bach. Conductor Fred Angerstein maintained easy control of the ensemble, which sported good balance despite the large number of performers.
–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