Tag Archives: chamber music

Exploring New Opportunities with Mixed Chamber Ensembles with Wonkak Kim and enhakē

enhakeOn Saturday at 10:00 AM in the Black Box Theater, clarinetist Wonkak Kim and his chamber ensemble enhakē presented a lecture entitled “Exploring New Opportunities with Mixed Chamber Ensembles.” The ensemble consisted of Kim, violinist M. Brent Williams, cellist Katherine Geeseman Decker, and pianist Grace Eunhye Choi. (It should be noted that Choi is not a regular member of the group, but was filling in for one member who had recently had a child.)

The lecture began with the group performing the Breakdown Tango by John Mackey. This work was originally  composed for Antares (formerly Elm City Ensemble) and has been performed by them at least 100 times. After the performance, Kim presented some “trivia” information about the group. He indicated that they met when they were students at Florida State University, hence the name of the group. Enhakē actually means “sound” in the Seminole language. He then guided the lecture through a series of topics: Disclaimer — things don’t always work out as planned, working with each other, establishing short-term goals, taking advantage of each other, reaching out, taking tangos to Argentina and choros to Brazil, (re)investing in the future, commissions, and recording.

Kim stressed the importance of developing friendships with the members of your chamber group. Of course, as life evolves, it is likely that you will eventually encounter individual changes of location and family circumstances. Yet, these changes do not mean that the ensemble can no longer rehearse and perform. He suggested having a handful of pieces that you return to frequently, allowing the group to really get to know each other as musicians.

Violinist M. Brent Williams explained that he had done several arrangements for the group and they performed two of these arrangements, Oblivion by Astor Piazzolla and a Brazilian choro. They noted that all of these arrangements are available for purchase on their website www.enhake.com. The session ended with the group performing a section of a new piece they recently commissioned from well-known composer Libby Larsen.

Throughout the lecture, Wonkak Kim was engaging and jovial. The other members of the group chimed in occasionally, and their performances were of the highest quality. This session was an excellent contribution to the Clarinetist as Entrepreneur theme of this conference.

–Notes by Timothy Phillips
Timothy Phillips serves as Associate Professor of Clarinet at the John M. Long School of Music at Troy University in Troy, Alabama, and manages Clarinet Corner, weekly program on Troy University Public Radio.


Leave a comment

Filed under Day 4, lecture

Lagniappe Recital: Conundrum Reed Trio—Trio TANTRAMAR–Dean/Pool

This recital began as the rain started Friday afternoon. It could be heard falling lightly on the roof and made for a nice moment of repose.

The recital ended up being in two halves since Trio TANTRAMAR was unable to attend. The first half of the program featured the Conundrum Reed Trio: Jennifer Johnson, oboe, Peter Cain, clarinet, and Darrel Hale, bassoon. They performed Sonatine by Michal Spisak in three movements as well as Sonatina by Sandor Veress, also in three movements. Their sound was beautifully balanced and light. These modern works were the perfect start to a rainy afternoon recital.

On the second half of the program was a premiere of a piece titled Hollywood Counterpoint for clarinet and bassoon by Robert Fruehwald performed by Michael Dean, clarinet, and Scott Pool, bassoon. This work is inspired by motion pictures and the composer’s time in Los Angeles. The first movement, Immoral Beloved, is a reaction to many overly sentimental movies about the romances of great composers. It combines a famous theme by Beethoven with a lesser known melody from Bizet’s Carmen. The second movement, Miracle on Wilshire Boulevard seeks to paint the picture of holiday memories as the street is lined with giant candy canes and palm trees. This movement combines the familiar sound of Christmas music with modern compositional technique, so the warm fuzzies one might expect to hear are substituted by a darker, misterioso flavor reminiscent of Stravinsky. The third movement, The Kentuckian, is inspired by many “B” list movies that romanticize frontier life in America. A song by pianist and violinist Anthony Philip Heinrich is used as subject matter for this movement. The movement is bouncy and uses a motive that sounds like the opening four notes of When the Saints Go Marching In. This movement is a rhythmic dialogue between the bassoon and clarinet during which they often have question and answer 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 Luevano.

Leave a comment

Filed under Day 3, Lagniappe Recital, Performances

Women in the Arts: Persian Gulf and Palestine—Arts on the Edge with Maxine Ramey

This session in which Dr. Maxine Ramey discussed her calling and development of the Sapphire Trio (cl, vln, pn) hit particularly close to home for me as a fellow female who may one day deploy to the Middle East.

Sapphire Trio was formed (1998) to tour all over the world. They truly use music as the universal language to break down social and cultural barriers. In 2006 the trio was officially identified as a U.S. State Department ‘Cultural Ambassador’ and they traveled to the Persian Gulf that same year to perform concerts and give master classes both within the local community and at various American Embassies. They toured Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait during a time of war.

While there, Sapphire Trio performed and engaged in their mission to serve using music to connect with people that in some cases have a negative view of Americans, women in the arts, and Western music. Their audiences held many different religious beliefs and belonged to a full range of social classes from Arabic royalty to Bedouin families.

To say that the core of Sapphire Trio’s mission is ‘risk-taking’ is an understatement. I do not know many musicians that would leave the comforts of the Western World to engage in the task of changing perception. Dr. Ramey and her colleagues are certainly succeeding at doing this very thing by utilizing their art to bring peace, to empower, and to unify.

–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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Day 2, lecture

Lagniappe Recital, a Poulenc Sextet

The faculty chamber ensemble from Eastern Kentucky University performed the wind sextet by Francis Poulenc with clarity and precision. Fast tempi were crisp and brilliant, and clarinetist Connie Rhoades navigated treacherous passagework with aplomb. The ensemble played beautifully together, executing difficult entrances effortlessly. Pianist Alexis Ignatiou played with a beautifully soft touch in the slow movement, and the entire ensemble played the last movement with energy and excitement, bringing Poulenc’s colorful wind writing to life.

The Webster Trio, originally slated to appear, unfortunately canceled and did not perform on this program.

–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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Day 1, Lagniappe Recital

I.C.A. Board Recital

Left to Right: Stephan Vermeersch, Tod Kerstetter, Keith Koons, Caroline Hartig, Maxine Ramey, John Cipolla, Lisa Canning.

Left to Right: Stephan Vermeersch, Tod Kerstetter, Keith Koons, Caroline Hartig, Maxine Ramey, John Cipolla, Lisa Canning.

I.C.A. President John Cipolla opened the board recital with repose and respect, honoring the young performers injured and lost in an accident the previous evening.  In one accord the room was silent and reflective, lifting the victims and their families up in prayer and meditation.  Without delay, Lisa Canning gave the opening address, reminding the room of the festival’s theme, entrepreneurship.  Her words were inspiring, urging current musicians to “be a beginner [again]…be vulnerable [and embrace] new thoughts for a new day.”  We all have other gifts to be combined with our clarinet for “it is not the only tool needed to build a house.”  The musical medium is for more than the performer but also the inventor, businessmen and women, teachers, and advocates.  Canning encouraged musicians to be ambassadors for the arts as they enter, and I might add, keep the arts.

Following the address, we once again heard from John Cipolla, the day’s first performer.  He performed The Voice of the Onion by Kenneth Berger, assisted by Zachary Lopes on piano.  The unity in their tutti passages was full of color, accentuating the jazz overtones within Berger’s work. No surprise as Berger is at home writing in the jazz idiom and the depth that Cipolla performs.

Immediately following, Caroline Hartig took stage, lightening the seriousness of performance with a small quip before performing Carlo Pedini’s L’Acciarino Di Weber per clarinetto solo.  Her lines were fluid and her presence commanded your attention.  The audience was so delighted with her execution, premature applause interrupted the final phrase of playful and impressive flourishes leaving her tickled and assured of the undeniable sparkle in her performance.

In a brief departure from treble sonorities, Tod Kerstetter took the stage with bass clarinet in hand to play Roger Jannotta’s transcription of Improvisation on “God Bless the Child” by Eric Dolphy.  Kerstetter captured the thrill and nuance of improvisation with his fluid technique and raucous interjections of strength and power.  One can only imagine there will be a flood of young clarinetists seeking out more bass clarinet repertoire in their training because of it.

Revisiting more traditional roots, Donald Oehler (clarinet), Keith Koons (basset horn) and Seong Eun Kim (piano) presented their interpretation of Concertpiece No. 2 in D Minor by Felix Mendelssohn.  Being arranged for many instrumentations, it was refreshing to hear the piece brought back to its origins, showing the depth, color, flexibility of the basset horn.

Veterans of collaborative performance, The Sapphire Trio (Maxine Ramey-clarinet, Margaret Baldridge-violin, Jody Graves-piano) performed the first movement of Serenade for Three by Peter Schickele.  Pristine in execution, the audience marveled at the communicative power and ease at which the group performs.  Established in the late ’90s, The Sapphire Trio has had many notable performances, making ClarinetFest2014 one of many stops in their highly successful career as chamber musicians and entrepreneurs.

The recital ended with the same Bagatelle for Solo Clarinet (2004) by Alexei Pavlyuchuk performed by Stephan Vermeersch.  The frenetic work was full of excitement and fire, making the percussive and punctuated slap tongue of the final note seem misplaced, yet strikingly satisfying in the textural juxtaposition.  The necessity of a new music recital with various types of ensembles and contrasting instrumentations cannot be overlooked for an entrepreneurial conference, and this recital unabashedly embraced the diversity.

–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.

1 Comment

by | July 31, 2014 · 9:09 am