Category Archives: Performances

Lagniappe Recital: Lulich-Luzembourg Duo

This recital of all contemporary music provided a wide variety of styles within the modern medium. Benjamin Lulich of Cal State – Fullerton performed Five Easy Pieces by Bacewicz, which turned out to be not so aptly named. Lulich’s fast tempos provided for a lively interpretation. As a special treat Lulich performed the second movement of Lutoslawski’s Dance Preludes.  This charming and recognizable movement was performed with great energy and style.

One of the highlights of all the conference performances was the Luxembourg Duo. Sebastien Duguet (clarinet) and Simone Weber (bass clarinet) began their portion of the program with Meeting by Alfred Prinz. From Ms. Weber’s first note, I was struck by her carefully shaped and beautifully refined bass playing. Each note took on special meaning. Sebastien Duguet executed the work’s many dangerously high entrances with grace and perfection. His smooth connections between wide intervals were especially noted in the first movement of Gunther Schuller’s Duo Sonata. Duguet masterfully performed the tricky arpeggiated flourishes of the second movement. Jonathan Russell’s KlezDuo finished this portion of the program, a tasty work more understated than most of his compositions for various clarinet ensembles. The Luxembourg Duo presented this work with great authentic style, yet had a refinement not often heard in the Klezmer setting. The extremely high level of communication demonstrated by this duo throughout the program was thrillingly evident during the last note of their performance — a tremolo that started slow, sped up, and ended perfectly together, with exact synchronization. The performers achieved this feat by facing each other and following the movement of their fingers. Bravo Luxembourg Duo for a spell-binding performance!

–Notes by Melissa Bowles Snavely
Melissa Bowles Snavely holds degrees in performance and music education from The Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins, Shenandoah Conservatory, and James Madison University. She currently teaches and performs in the Washington DC area.


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Lagniappe Recital: Ackerman-Phillips-Carter

Phil&friendsThe first performer on this morning’s concert was Timothy Phillips (Troy University), accompanied by Adam Blackstock (marimba) with Lisa Canning conducting a pop-up interview prior to his performance. It was most interesting to hear about his work in developing the Troy Clarinet Day, and through his recently syndicated radio show, Clarinet Corner (episodes currently available online via soundcloud at Phillips performed an interesting work inspired by Sylvia Plath’s poetry for clarinet and marimba. Originally for saxophone and marimba, the composer, L.Mark Lewis, adapted it at Dr. Phillips’ request. The first movement was a real romp, featuring excited marimba playing by Adam Blackstock. Phillips sounded particularly lovely in the second movement, as his first entrance seemed to effortlessly emerge from the marimba sound. The unusual pairing of these instruments was really interesting and enjoyable. The mellowness of the marimba truly complimented and supported Phillips’ dynamic clarinet playing.

The final piece, Hietor Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras, was performed by David and Angela Carter (both of the Tulsa Symphony), with Katherine White (mezzo soprano), Ricardo Coelho de Souza (vibraphone) and Christine Souza (marimba). This interesting instrumentation brought this familiar piece to new life. Particularly of note was the sensitive playing by David Carter (clarinet), and the lovely support and leading of the bass line by Angela Carter (bass clarinet). Their sounds melded together well, sounding as one. Throughout both movements, the great interplay of parts and excellent communication between performers was appreciated.

–Notes by Nora Shaffer
 Nora Shaffer,  a recent DePaul University graduate (CER ‘14, MM ‘12), is a passionate performer and dedicated teacher in the ChicagoLand area. Additionally, she is Principal and E-flat Clarinetist with the Lake Effect Clarinet Quartet.

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Shared Recital: Stephan Vermeersch and Jacques Merrer

MerrerRecitalIt appears bass clarinet is the new black when it comes to new music. Stephan Vermeersch performed four very different yet very new and exciting works featuring the instrument during his shared recital at 4:00 p.m. in Shaver Theatre, Saturday. The first, Eric Honour’s Quirk for Bass Clarinet and Computer, made audiences want to get up and dance, wondering  if DJs would soon begin lugging basses to their gigs, along with turntables and other electronica.

Vermeersch played along with a click track, executing slap tonguing passages and other extended techniques as the piece jived through a catchy prerecorded hip hop beat, along with a bevy of distortions and computer-generated sound effects. Audience members recognized the sound of a record scratching on the prerecorded track, whereas the distorted bass clarinet sound was reminiscent of the Mario Brothers Nintendo game circa 1992 or alien-esque sounds à la The X-Files. At other times, it was hard to tell which sounds were acoustic, which were distortions and which were prerecorded. Vermeersch was truly in his element, executing a flawless rendition.

When introducing the next two pieces, Vermeersch charmed the audience by divulging that the two men to be performing with him were his soul mates. He played Dan Becker’s Better Late for Two Bass Clarinets with Richard Nunemaker, which started out in perfect unison, gradually broke apart into a telegraphing, minimalist riff resembling a skipping record, and culminated in a warmhearted high five and hug between the two friends. Rocco Parisi joined Vermeersch for Marc Mellits’s bluesy Black for Two Bass Clarinets next.

Vermeersch ended with the U.S. premier of his own composition, WE for Bass Clarinet and 5 Desk Bells, published just this year. Flying through harmonics, slap tonguing and other extended techniques with circular breathing to keep up the momentum, Vermeersch tapped the five desk bells—each one a different color, like a child’s glockenspiel—with his left foot. A true test of coordination on top of the skill it took to simply play the bass clarinet the way Vermeersch did, WE held the audience captivated.

The second half of the recital showcased the other auxiliary instrument we all know and love, the E-flat (and D) clarinet. Jacques Merrer played three baroque transcriptions of works by Vivaldi, Albinoni and Johann Melchior Molter with a sweet sound as his faithful collaborator, Dianne Frazer, kept steady time on the harpsichord. The music was a welcome change from the newer, albeit beautiful, music that audience members had been enjoying the rest of the week up to that point. With performances of works hot off the presses and classics predating the clarinet, this recital proved to be an interesting look at the chronological bookends of music.

–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: Fraioli String Quartet-McCowen Clarinet Quartet

To open the recital, Mr. Fraioli performed the world premiere of his composition Suggestioni for Clarinet and String Quartet with the Ritz Chamber Players.  At times quite jazzy, this piece moved through several different moods such as a lovely unison duet with the clarinet and first violin, a poignant counterpoint duet between clarinet and cello, and a sustained and lyrical clarinet line against constant pizzicati from the quartet. At one point Mr. Fraioli moved so excitedly he almost flew out of his chair! As the piece came to an end, he tore through virtuosic passages embellished with several well-placed smears. A final series of sharply accented chords led the listeners to expect a calculated cadential sequence, but instead, the quartet stopped as Mr. Fraioli held a single note, stood up, and walked off stage.   Still playing behind closed doors, his sound faded to niente, a delightful and unexpected conclusion!

Next, John P. McCowen’s Clarinet Quartet No. 1 was performed, from memory, by the composer with Mr. Emch, Mr. Fitzgerald, and Mr. Goodman. It opened with barely audible notes moving slowly in and out of the texture, creating a feeling of swimming through a calm, unbroken lake of sound. The quartet began to gingerly add pitch bends and quavering trills. Use of multiphonics created the illusion of electrical interference or feedback, and with an expanded range, dynamic contrast, and harsher, growling timbres the music vacillated in and out of intensity. Eventually calmed, the placid levels suddenly end. Throughout the work, the group stayed as still as possible, adding a visual element to the performance. At the end, and desperate for movement, they quickly bounded out of their seats, breaking the spell created by this intriguing piece.

–Notes by Sam Davies
Sam Davies recently completed his first year of DMA study with Dr. Guy Yehuda at Michigan State University. At MSU Davies can be heard performing with the Wind Symphony, Symphony Orchestra, chamber ensembles, and new student compositions.

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Douglas Graham Tribute Recital

Former students of Douglas Graham's performing in his tribute recital.

Former students of Douglas Graham’s performing in his tribute recital.

Sunday morning, ClarinetFest was awakened by glorious sounds in the SOM Recital Hall with students of Douglas Graham presenting him with a tribute recital at 8:00 a.m. Graham served as principal clarinetist of the South Carolina Philharmonic and taught at the University of South Carolina.

The last movement of the Lalo Piano Trio was performed with LSU pianist Willis Delony. He was joined by Jeremy Cohen (clarinet) and Wendy Cohen (flute). Both played with beautiful depth of tone and a wonderfully expressive dynamic range. Delony played with great integrity and flowing lines.

David Gresham’s performance of Karel Husa’s Three Studies showed excellent execution of the clarinet techniques of the 20th century while maintaining lyricism and fun. Gresham took the third movement with a firm resolve!
Peregi Verbunk by Weiner was performed by Mark Brandon with Willis Deloney.  These performances highlighted one of the strengths of Doug Graham’s teaching: evenness of tone.
Seven Deadly Sins by Goodwin for clarinet and marimba provided the audience with some humor at both the melodic features of the piece and the commentary from the composer. The brevity of the final movement brought about a chuckle from many in the audience. The piece was performed by John Bittle (clarinet) and Matthew Jones (marimba).
David Callaway performed Czardas by Monti. This was a fun and entertaining addition to the program, especially for an early Sunday morning.
Don’t be that Way was featured next and performed by Gary Buss and Willis Delony.  Local audiences always love performances by Delony but this pair was a match made in heaven and allowed both performers to sparkle with a charming and comfortable style.
GrahamCanonic Suite for 4 B-flat clarinets by Elliott Carter was performed as a mixed service member ensemble. Performers represented the Air Force, Army, and Navy. The ensemble had a strong finish to an absolutely charming piece.
Students of Douglas Graham combined to present their beloved mentor with a framed photo and message and a closing performance of I’ll be Seeing You, arranged for clarinets by Dick Goodwin. The program was beautifully organized and executed and was a moment of great pride and appreciation for Professor Graham.–Notes by Dr. Mary Alice Druhan
Dr. Mary Alice Druhan is the Associate Professor of Clarinet, Texas A&M University-Commerce and a Buffet performing artist.

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Vandoren Chamber Music Night


In a night of clarinet chamber standards, the audience heard classical masterpieces ranging from Mozart to Mandat.  Master Sergeant Reis McCullough opened the concert with Spohr’s Fantasy and Variations on a Theme of Danzi, Op. 81.  His lively and bubbly tone invigorated

Chris Pell

Chris Pell

the air, filling us with anticipation for the upcoming works.  Starkly contrasting in every way, Chris Pell and the Ritz Chamber Players changed the tone of the evening with Eric Mandat’s 2 teez.  The energy in this piece captured the audience’s attention in a way that changed how one would experience the rest of the concert.  The fragmented lines danced through the ensemble with all musicians playing with excitement and vigor. Bravo indeed to Mr. Pell on his excellent execution of this incredible work.

D.  Ray McClellan and the Ritz Chamber Musicians

D. Ray McClellan and the Ritz Chamber Musicians

Ending the first half of the evening, D. Ray McClellan performed Brahms’s Quintet in B Minor for Clarinet and String Quartet, Op. 115 bringing the night’s attention back to more familiar standards.  His tone and legato was smooth and seamless, and with sensitivity to match, the intimacy of the performance lingered throughout the night. Next, Jon Manasse performed Crusell’s Quartet for Clarinet and Strings in E-flat Major, Op.2, No. 1.  With frequent quips and laughter between Manasse and the Ritz Chamber Players, the audience eased into their seats to enjoy a performance from a clarinetist who never disappoints.

VincentiIn a world premiere, Piero Vincenti performed Claudio De Siena’s Italian Movies for Clarinets (E-flat, B-flat and G Clarinet).  With quotes from The Godfather and rich Italian harmonies, the sweetness of Vincenti’s playing provided another splendid taste of newness to a concert of established standards.  Continuing with Italian works, Henry Jones (piano) and Philippe Cuper (clarinet) gave a superb performance of Carlo Della Giacoma’s Cavaleria Rusticana Fantasia.  Cuper played with excitement and fire, inspiring technical facility, and with a sweet thickness to his tone.

FortezaEnding the concert with Mozart’s Quintet for Strings in A Major, K. 581, Pascul Martinez Forteza gave a sensitive and evocative performance.  His personality sparkled with each phrase leading the audience through Mozart with ease.  In a day filled with excellence in abundance, this was one of yesterday’s highlights.

–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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ICA Awards Gala

galaEach year when a new ClarinetFest is held, it is the results of several hundred hours of planning, work, and preparation.  This year’s festival peaked at over 1400 registered attendees, making this possibly the most highly attended ClarinetFest to date.  In recognition of all of the team’s efforts, President John Cipolla and the ICA board gathered to honor the artistic team for the year’s ClarinetFest. They are:

  • Robert DiLutis, Artistic Director
  • William Blayney
  • Robyn Jones
  • Michael Bartnik
  • Ben Redwine
  • Kate Young
  • John Coppa

At this time, the board also took the opportunity to thank sponsors, conductors, coordinators, induct the honorary members, and present competition winners with their prizes.

Honored Conductors
ICA Professors’ Choir-Piero Vincenti
ICA Professors’ Choir-Robert Walzel
Baton Rouge Symphony-David Hattner
Festival Choir Conductor-Mitch Estrin
Festival Choir Conductor-Raphael Sanders

Honorary Members
David Shifrin
Michele Zukovsky
Antonio Saiote

Honored Deceased
Laura Ezinwa Onwudinanti
John Patrick Stewart


High School
Coordinated by Elizabeth Crawford
1) Alec Manasse, $1000 prize
2) Paul Park, $750 prize
3) Julia Choi,  $500 prize

Young Artist
Coordinated by Maxine Ramey
1) Jose Pinto, $4000 and Selmer professional model clarinet
2) Jose Viana, $2000 prize
3) Hila Zamir, $1000 prize

Coordinated by Michael Norsworthy
After Pear blossom dwindled… for solo bass clarinet
by Jason Lim

Coordinated by Dr. Douglas Monroe
1) Erica Low, Examination of Embouchure Force During Clarinet Performance, $1000 prize
2) Jeremy Wohletz, East Meets West: Transcribing Balinese Gamelan for Clarinet Choir, $500 prize

Orchestral Excerpts
Coordinated by Jeremy W. Reynolds
1) Jackie Glazier, $1000 prize and a Gregory Smith mouthpiece
2) Shih-Wen Fan, $500 prize and a Gregory Smith mouthpiece

–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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Lagniappe Recital: Miami Clarinets—Hinckley—Smith—Shumway—Zewald

As ClarinetFest winds down, attendees were entertained Saturday with a potpourri of chamber music.

The first ensemble to perform was the ‘Miami Clarinets’ whose members are Margaret Donaghue Flavin, Dawn McConkie, Michael Walsh, and Danielle Woolery Scalia. Dr. Flavin is Professor of Clarinet at the University of Miami Frost School of Music and the three remaining members are all doctoral alumni of the program. They performed two pieces: Fugue and Prelude by Choi and Of Living Sapphire by Mulligan.

To contrast the timbre of the quartet Jaren Hinckley, clarinet, Christian Smith, bassoon, and Jeffrey Shumway, piano, performed Hinckley’s work Hinterlands in 3 movements, I. Eas Coul Aulin (Sutherland, Scotland), II. Rocky Ridge (Wyoming, U.S.A.), and III. Nordkapp (Finnmark, Norway). The first movement was a wonderful dialogue between the two as they traded off the energized main motive. The second movement truly highlighted the warm timbre of the bassoon as it soloed over the clarinet accompaniment. The piece closed with an animated movement that again highlighted the bassoon’s charming character and left the listener invigorated.

Dutch clarinetist Céleste Zewald performed Rudolf Escher’s Sonata for Clarinet Solo before being joined by members of the Ritz chamber orchestra in the final ensemble of the recital. They performed Alexander Glazunov’s quintet Oriental Reverie.

–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 Luevano.

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Lagniappe Recital: Lima-Palmer-Card

2014-08-02A Brazilian ensemble opened the recital program with performances of a variety of arrangements by Daniel Dalarossa, Reinaldo Lima, and Renato Leme. Ensemble members include Reinaldo Lima, Henrique Candido, Renato Leme, and Heber Pequeno who were all sponsored by Choromusic. The audience seemed to enjoy the variety of musical genres adapted for the ensemble, from Bach Prelude to Partita and from Charlie Parker to traditional Brazilian tunes.

Katherine Palmer took stage for the second portion of the recital with works by Peruvian composer, Armando Guevara Ochoa. Katherine introduced his musical style as capable of incorporating sounds of the Andes mountains. This first unaccompanied piece had a variety of styles, from gentle songs to festive dances. Michelle Von Haugg joined Katherine Palmer for Huayno, a delightful and short duo, a Peruvian Dance in 2/4. Lamento Andino, a beautiful trio for voice, clarinet, and piano, concluded Katherine Palmer’s performance on this recital. The performers executed beautifully and it was a wonderful shift in timbre and style.
The final portion of the recital included the last three movements of the Ravel Sonata performed by Patricia Card and Scott Card (cello). The third movement was full of beautiful and lyrical imagery which displayed Patricia Card’s warm tone and control, especially in the clarinet’s chalumeau. The piece had an abundance of challenges for the performers including rhythmic and contrapuntal scoring, long lyrical leaps and biting intervals, all handled with great attention to detail. Congratulations to all of these performers for a very eclectic and energetic program.–Notes by Dr. Mary Alice Druhan
Dr. Mary Alice Druhan is the Associate Professor of Clarinet, Texas A&M University-Commerce and a Buffet performing artist.

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Universidad Distrital ASAB Colombia and Houston Symphonic Band

columbia2ClarinetFest 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!

houstonFollowing 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

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