Category Archives: Performances

ClarinetFest 2014 Festival Choir

ClarinetFest 2014 started to wrap up on Sunday afternoon with a marvelous performance by the Festival Choir, consisting of many eager performers who were registered for the conference. Students, professionals, and aficionados alike all took the stage to form one of the largest clarinet choirs seen at the conference this year. Conductors Mitchell Estrin and Raphael Sanders were warm and friendly with both the audience and the choir, and the variety of music performed was sure to leave everybody with a new favorite piece.

The choir opened with a commission, Paul Basler’s Dr. Boda’s Magical Spinning Machine. Professor Estrin mentioned that the work was specifically composed for this year’s Festival Choir. The work’s tonal language was dense and constantly swarming, making interesting use of all different sections of the choir. This was quickly followed by an arrangement of Vaughan Williams’ English Folk Song Suite. The performance was no less effective than the standard band arrangement, with each and every line brought forth easily through the choir’s balance.

Raphael Sanders then took the stage to replace Professor Estrin, and the choir continued with a charming arrangement of Jan Van Der Roost’s Rikudim, a set of Israeli folk dances in two movements. Mr. Sanders’ warm personality lent itself nicely to the piece, as he encouraged the audience to chant along with the choir itself during the rousing tune. The remainder of the concert consisted of an arrangement of Bohemian Rhapsody, a Guido Six arrangement of Mugssorsky’s Night on Bald Mountain, and a spritely rendition of William Krell’s Mississippi Rag. The hard work of these choir members during ClarinetFest was very noticeable!

–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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Lagniappe Recital: Gythfeldt-Watson- Myth-Science Ensemble

sundaymorning3It was no sleepy Sunday for ClarinetFest 2014 at Shaver Theater this morning, where another Lagniappe Recital showcased several excellent performers and their eclectic choices of music, including several works with electronics and visuals and a world premiere piece for solo bass clarinet. Marianne Gythfeldt, Anne Watson, and the Myth-Science Ensemble all performed for a supportive and patient audience despite the recital’s late start.

Dr. Marianne Gythfeldt, an Assistant Professor of Music at Brooklyn College, started the hour with Mikel Kuehn’s Rite of Passage followed by Gene Pritsker’s Modified #4. The audience was surrounded by stereo electronic sounds while Dr. Gythfeldt played live passages from the center of the stage. Her use of a laptop and panel of foot pedals enabled her to change the electronic sounds as the music progressed.

Dr. Anne Watson of Northeastern State University (Tahlequah, Oklahoma) continued the recital with the world premiere of Theresa Martin’s Grit n’ Grind for bass clarinet. Dr. Watson briefly described an intense exercise routine, involving crawls through the mud, which prompted Theresa Martin to compose the work. The piece’s call for steady technique throughout the bass clarinet’s registers was highlighted wonderfully by Dr. Watson’s playing.

The final works of the concert were presented by the Myth-Science Ensemble of Dwight Frizzell and Thomas Aber on bass clarinet, zwoom, and electronica. Their first work Slippages III was accompanied by brilliantly-colored visual presentations as a backdrop for the performers. Frizzell discussed the directional approach to the work’s amplification, where a unit of sound may be played live by Frizzell or Aber and then repeated behind them on electronics or vice-versa. The use of zwooms, a long circular tube with bass clarinet mouthpiece, produced a dark and shrill sound similar to a contrabass clarinet, though their movement of the instruments varied the timbre. The second work Oceans of Kansas was aptly named for the audio samples of certain reactive minerals and chemicals used in the piece. Aber provided whimsical bass clarinet sounds and passages while the visual and audio presentation of the piece carried on.

–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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Lagniappe Recital: Haney-Alder

Jason Alder

Jason Alder

One strong point of ClarinetFest 2014 has been the array of excellent performances on bass clarinet, often showcasing new music for the instrument. This Lagniappe Recital was a shining example of that. Barbara Haney and Jason Alder performed Daniel Dorff’s In a Deep Funk: Dance Set for Solo Bass Clarinet and Stockhausen’s Solo für melodieinstrument und Rückkopplung, respectively.

In a Deep Funk featured four movements with a play on popular dance crazes from the middle of the last century, called Hustle Misterioso, Twist Variations, Bear Hug, and Funk Scherzo. The music was sometimes raucous and sometimes singing, but always had an underlying groove. Barbara Haney played very convincingly, executing the large leaps and use of the full range of the bass clarinet with great ease.

Solo für melodieinstrument und Rückkopplung (Solo for a melody instrument and feedback), although composed in 1966, was still new to most people in the audience. In the day and age when Stockhausen finished this work, it required at least four people in addition to the soloist to create the feedback that is key to the piece. Through countless hours of computer work, Jason Alder created a system in which to perform the piece by himself. Alder surrounded himself with a laptop, his phone, which provided an audio and visual metronome to cue him for the beginning of each musical cycle, and a microphone attached to his bass clarinet. The third time was a charm; technical difficulties required Alder to start the piece a few times before everything worked properly, but once it got off the ground, Solo took over the recital hall. At times, the feedback from the bass clarinet sounded like a string section. Other times, feedback that was a more exact copy of Alder’s original sound accompanied him to form unusual chords and polyphonies. Before beginning to play, Alder pointed out that there will never be two identical performances of Stockhausen’s Solo since he provides several musical sets which are to be paired together through the feedback in any combination of the soloist’s choosing. We have Alder to thank for the ability now to perform this very interesting work as a true solo, as well as for bringing it to our attention.

–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.

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Lagniappe Recital: DeBoer-Oberlander-Lacaille

Matthew Nelson

Matthew Nelson

The Lagniappe Recital in Shaver Theatre Sunday at 12:00 featured new music for the clarinet. Andrew DeBoer opened with Nikola Resanovic’s Sonata for B-flat Clarinet and Piano, a bluesy but modern work featuring everything from glissandos to flutter tonguing to sections that sounded like Baltic folk music. The piece is in four movements that blend together: “I. For the Money… II. To Go… III. To get Ready… and IV. Go Cat, Go!” DeBoer’s playing was clean, controlled and thoughtful.

Next, Lisa Oberlander performed Roger Zare’s Nocture étincelant and James Primosch’s Times Like These. Oberlander executed the soaring melodies and gentle chalumeau passages in the first work effortlessly. The second piece called for several adjustments to the piano including wrapping a piece of felt around two strings to achieve a wood block sound and wrapping a paper clip around another string. At times throughout the piece, pianist Tatiana Muzanova placed fingers on strings to bring out the harmonics. She also created an odd effect by pedaling slightly after playing a chord, which caught some of the notes and harmonics but not all. The duo played expressively to make for a successful pairing of works.

Maryanne Lacaille performed Nikola Resanovic’s Alt.Music.Ballistix next. A wild piece with prerecorded sound effects that were broadcast in stereo in the theater — including a fax machine, a dial tone, a car crash, a typewriter, a dial-up modem login, drums, a tambourine, an accordion, and an automated voice asking the caller to enter a password and the pound sign — accompanied Lacaille as she laid out several complicated passages on her clarinet. The vibrant music seemed to match the purple patent loafers she wore, and the LSU bell tower chiming the time in the distance during a pause in the music created a surreal effect.

Matthew Nelson and Vanguel Tangarov closed the recital with Bruce Quaglia’s After Milton: Three Vignettes for B-flat Clarinet and Bojidar Abrashev’s Recitative and Burlesque, respectively. The performers executed both very demanding pieces with great skill and musicianship, especially in regards to the delicate high notes at soft dynamics in each one. Audience members took away from this concert excellent additions to their lists of performance repertoire and a refreshed inspiration to pursue new works for our instrument.

–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.

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Lagniappe Recital: Perevertailenko-Rodriguez-Josenhans

Alcides and Heather.

Alcides and Heather.

The recital opened with a delightful performance of Alexander Grechaninov’s Sonata No. 1 for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 161 by Dmitry Perevertailenko (clarinet) and Seong Eun (Grace) Kim (piano). The work was enjoyable, oscillating between a jolly and playful nature to a more melancholy yet still comedic one. Especially beautiful was the second movement, Canzona. The third movement contained many false endings that left the audience wondering how it would close.

Next up was Buffet Crampon and Vandoren Artist Alcides Rodriguez of the Atlanta Symphony. He was joined by Gail Novak at the piano performing the Widor Introduction and Rondo, which was not listed on the program. Alcides’ command of the technique was evident, as was his beautiful tone, especially at piano dynamics. His performance was extremely well received by all.

Next Alcides was joined by Heather Rodriguez (Rodriguez Musical Services) for Ponchielli’s Il Covegno.  Their tones blended exceptionally well and they made this tricky work seem effortless. Bravo.

The recital closed with a work by Thomas Drury, Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano. Thomas Josenhans, clarinet (Chair-University of Evansville), was joined by the composer at the piano. The first movement, “Driving but buoyant” was in ternary form and had a wonderful imitative quality. The second movement, “Quite slow but with a lilt” started with a beautiful (possibly Irish) folk song that then transformed into an anxious and dissonant section. Another three-part form, the melody returned to be performed by the piano and ending positively. The third movement was a jig that had running triplets before becoming fragmented and imitative once more.  The piece was performed with enthusiasm and would work well on recitals for students and professionals alike.

–Notes by Dr. Dawn Marie Lindblade
Dr. Lindblade is the Assistant Professor of Clarinet at the University of Central Oklahoma and is a Clinician at Clarinet Pro Workshops, Austin Texas.

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Lagniappe Recital: Viliunas-Prewitt-Cavallin Zerjal

What an amazing recital!  This performance offered audiences a chance to hear many different selections showcasing the different timbres and extended techniques of clarinet. Unfortunately Sergio Reyes was unable to attend so the first performance was the Invisible Duet by Fredrik Högberg, executed from memory. This work is performed with a prerecorded track and has the soloist walk onstage with the clarinet in its case so it is assembled as part of the show. The performer is then called to speak the single line, “Meditation begins.” The meditation is quickly over and the performer is off to the races. This piece truly is a stage production that seems based on the premise that the clarinetist is playing a game trying to beat the level titled “Invisible Duet.” At the completion of the clarinet part, the voiceover track says, “Invisible duet complete. Well done.” The performer then walks off the stage as the track concludes.

Second on the program was Bug by Bruno Mantovani performed by contemporary music specialist Spencer Prewitt. This performance was virtuosic and demanded flutter tonguing, timbre trills, and quartertones from the performer. Prewitt played with fire under his fingers and definitely depicted the imagery evoked by the title.

Radovan Cavallin Zerjal closed the recital with three works: Pastoral Fantasy for Solo Clarinet by Croatian-born New York native Božidar Kunc, Monolog for Solo Clarinet by Andjelko Klobučar dedicated to Zerjal’s father, and 11 per 1 in 1 for Solo Clarinet by Dubravko Detoni dedicated to the performer. Zerjal’s stage presence and artistry captured the audience from the moment he walked onstage. His first piece truly highlighted his sotto voce range and dynamic dramaticism while subsequent works displayed his ability to flutter tongue while singing, circular breathe, and use body language for dramatic effect.

All three of these performers displayed extreme technical mastery while also making evident their compelling passion and individual musical statements.

–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.

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Professor’s Choir

IMG_20140803_150625195Ending the week of clarinet entrepreneurship was the ICA Professors Ensemble.  The ensemble, led by Robert Walzel, opened the concert with the upbeat, Ronald Scott arrangement of Poco Allegro from Five Bagatelles, Op. 47 by Dvorak.  Masters of their instrument, it is no surprise that these clarinetists put on a final concert that was a smashing success.  The theme was light and clear, bouncing through the ensemble with ease regardless of dynamic or tessitura.

Piero Vincenti took the stage to lead the ensemble in three pieces he brought from Italy.  The choir’s full sonorous sound filled the hall like a church organ during the Donizetti and Rossini arrangements by Pontini.  The Klezmer rhapsody following added a wonderful color to the concert, especially in the E-flat stylings of Diane Barger who played with secure intonation and a warm tone most becoming but often absent in E-flat playing.

Of all the pieces, none were as jovial and  becoming as the World Premiere of Guido Six’s arrangement of Souvenir of The Piano Man: “Grenadilla Rhapsody.”  Even ensemble members Larry Guy and Julia Heinen could not contain their excitement as they bobbed and jaunted in their seats to the jazzy harmonies and rhythms.  The pinnacle of surprise came when an entire section played the Rhapsody in Blue solo in a roarous smear.  In an effort to respect the time of the performers, the final piece (another Six arrangement) was abbreviated.  Bravo Maestros Vincenti and Walzel on a superb concert!

–Notes by Melissa Morales
Melissa Morales is a master’s student at DePaul University studying with Julie DeRoche and Larry Combs.  She currently teaches at The People’s Music School and performs with The Candid Concert Opera’s Orchestra Nova and the Chicago Symphonic Winds.

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Texas A&M University – Kingsville Clarinet Choir and Clarinet Madness Clarinet Choir

Both clarinet choirs in Sunday morning’s 8:00 a.m. Shaver Theatre performance played admirably. The Texas A&M University – Kingsville Clarinet Choir featured several lively pieces with solid solos in Everett Gates’s Seasonal Sketches by the principal clarinetist, and a beautiful  feature of the front row later on. The TAMU-K Choir was professional in every aspect, down to the coordinated lifting of their instruments before beginning to play each piece. With a wide repertoire prepared, they continued with solid renditions of Bruce Ronkin’s Episode for Clarinets, Maria Theresia von Paradis’s Sicilienne, and Paul Harvey’s Jollipop. The 17 talented young clarinetists showed exuberance in their playing and demeanor, putting the fun back into clarinet choir.

The Clarinet Madness Choir represented a refreshing group of 10 adult clarinetists, also running the gamut of repertoire with a wide variety of pieces. All three performed Sunday morning — William F. Funk’s Grenadille du Trisque, Henry Tucker and Louis Lambillote’s Fantasia on Two Songs: Sweet Genevieve and On This Day O Beautiful Mother, and an arrangement by Jack Knowles of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville — were written specifically for the Clarinet Madness Choir. The first piece featured both the first clarinetist and the E-flat clarinetist in solos and a charming duet. The highlight of the recital, however, was The Barber of Seville, a work frequently arranged for clarinet choir. The Clarinet Madness Choir took the piece at a lively tempo and maintained the energy for the duration of the work. A technically challenging piece to tackle, The Clarinet Madness Choir handled it well, finishing the recital with a bang.

–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.

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Lagniappe Recital: Quartet Atrivedo-Aleksander-Becraft

The 9:00 Sunday Lagniappe recital in the School of Music Recital Hall featured a variety of chamber ensembles, in combinations both familiar and unfamiliar. It opened with a spirited performance of four Estampas Criollas composed by Beatriz Lockhart, performed by the Quartet Atrivedo. The clarinet quartet played the lilting rhythms of these charming dances with admirable energy, syncopations and cross-rhythms shimmying away under sweet lyrical melodies. This was an altogether enjoyable performance, carried off with panache and style by the four artists: Allison Allum, Emily Kerski, and Mando Ramirez on clarinets and Asa Graf on bass clarinet.

The second group to perform was a wind trio from The University of Tennessee-Martin, an unusual trio of flute, played by Charles Lewis; clarinet, played by Elizabeth Aleksander; and saxophone, played by Doug Owens. The group performed seven short movements by Paul Harvey with charm and grace. The group balanced the three voices beautifully, so that each of the instruments could be clearly heard, and some lovely timbral blends emerged. The Incantation movement, which featured Lewis on alto flute, was especially notable. While each of the players had a chance to step into the spotlight with lovely melodies, the most notable feature of this performance was the wonderfully balanced chamber aesthetic demonstrated by this accomplished ensemble.

The final selection on the program was I Never Saw Another Butterfly, a duo for soprano voice and clarinet by Lori Laitman, performed by Laura Storm and Steven Becraft of Henderson State University. Storm explained that the texts are from a collection of poems written by children interred in German concentration camps during World War II, but she noted that in spite of their tragic circumstances, many of the poems are full of life and joy. Storm declaimed the texts clearly, with a rich, velvety vocal tone, matched by Becraft with a sound that was focused and warm in all its registers. The songs evoked a variety of moods, from the dance-like Yes, That’s The Way Things Are to the ominous quality of The Old House. Lighter moments, as in Birdsong, where the two voices were braided together in their high register, contrasted with darker ones, like the low bell-like tones and static vocal line that opened the final song. Becraft and Storm brought riveting drama to this powerful set of songs, bringing the concert to a contemplative close.

–Notes by Michael Rowlett
Michael Rowlett is the assistant Professor of Clarinet at The University of Mississippi.  You can find his CD Close to Home: Music of American Composers on Amazon and Albany Records.

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Buffet Crampon Gala Concert

10556216_857259564285448_2699921473091380692_n[2]On the final evening at ClarinetFest 2014, we enjoyed incredible works for clarinet and orchestra.  Alcides Rodriguez and Gabor Varga give a jovial opening to the concert playing Krommer’s Concerto for Two Clarinets and Orchestra, Op. 35.  With bubbling lines and a beautiful blend, the duo played with poise and grace. The two clarinetists displayed great sensitivity to throughout the second movement, playing with great control and intonation over a subdued Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra.

Following was Ralph Skiano with his poignant interpretation of Debussy’s Premiere Rhapsodie.  The clarinet weaved its way in and around the orchestra with incredible ease, wafting through elongated phrases and impish flourishes.  In these moments the interplay between soloist and and the orchestra’s principal winds was delightful, particularly with the oboist.

Taking the stage, Greg Raden performed Weber’s Concerto No. 1.  His first note stilled the room with his pure sound floating high above the orchestra.  The third movement was lively with delicate inflections and a variety of colors which made for a lovely contrast between themes.

Antonio Saiote gave a lively performance of Canongia’s Clarinet Concert No. 3 in E-flat.  With wild technical demands, Saiote took command of the stage and played with abandon.  Taking some artistic license, his virtuosic performance of Canongia’s work was a memorable performance from the night.

In a last-minute change of performers, Robert DiLutis took the stage instead of the programmed David Drosinos to perform Ben-Haim’s Pastoral Variee for Clarinet, Harp and Strings.  A consummate professional and profound musician, none would have assumed he was not the originally programmed artist.  In many respects, it was the most impressive performance of the evening.

A full, lush string section cued the start of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, and the final piece of the evening. Paul Cigan delivered an inspiring performance of our cornerstone work.  His pianos seemed to draw you in, peering into intimate moments of repose.

–Notes by Melissa Morales
Melissa Morales is a master’s student at DePaul University studying with Julie DeRoche and Larry Combs.  She currently teaches at The People’s Music School and performs with The Candid Concert Opera’s Orchestra Nova and the Chicago Symphonic Winds.

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