Tag Archives: Clarinet Choir

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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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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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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Brandon University Clarinet Choir and University of Delaware Clarinet Ensemble

The 1pm concert in Shaver Theater began with Catherine Wood and the Brandon University Clarinet Choir from Brandon, Manitoba (members include: Christopher Byman, Eric Calrow, Danning Chen, Alyssa English, Amanda Forest, Alexandra Harrington, Iris Hwang, Vanessa Klassen, Stevie MacPherson, Gregory Monias, Joelle Nielsen, and Preston Rocan). They opened the program with the U.S. premiere of Jeff Presslaff’s Subtranslucence. The work featured active parts for all players with several small solo moments throughout. Ensemble member Christopher Byman composed the second piece, Signs VII, which is based on the Zodiac sign Libra. The dense textures and thick harmony in both pieces worked well with the ensemble, which played with good balance and tone. They ended their set with Klezmer Suite – a fun set of two traditional pieces and one newly composed kelzmer piece that highlighted three student soloists.

The University of Delaware Clarinet Ensemble is directed by Christopher Nichols and includes members Caroline Aylward, Kourtney Bastianelli, Rachelle Dizon, Matthew Fischer, Eliza Goldman, Heather Heacock, Samantha Hitchell, Robin Lamel, Joanna McCoskey, Sarah Miller, and Samantha Romero. The two-part work Chorale and Danza by Vaclav Nelhybel displayed the ensemble’s versatility of styles, from the organ-like blend in the opening chorale to the rhythmic dance finale. Recent composition Summoning, by Michael Scott-Nelson, acted as a theme and variations on a 16th century chorale. Changes in the melodic treatment, tempo, style, and harmony kept the melody fresh through the whole piece. The concert concluded with the premiere of Anthony O’Toole’s Technodrone. The work opened energetically and made great use of the colors and articulations possible in a clarinet choir.

–Notes by Jennifer Tinberg
Jennifer Tinberg is currently Adjunct Clarinet Faculty at Troy University and a doctoral student at Florida State University.

 

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Clarinet Choirs Recital: Licorice Sticks/New Horizons

This morning’s Shaver Theater recital featured two clarinet choirs, the New Horizons Clarinet Choir, and the Licorice Sticks Clarinet Orchestra.

The New Horizons Clarinet Choir, hailing from Rochester, NY, is a very fine amateur clarinet choir. New Horizons was founded 22 years ago by retired Eastman School of Music professor, Roy Ernst, as a fine arts educational program for senior citizens. Their performance was well prepared, expertly executed, and fun to hear! New Horizons presented a varied program, including music ranging from Mozart (Rondo alla Turca from Gran Partita), to Fred Fisher (Chicago), to Brahms (Hungarian Dance No.5), and W.C. Handy (Beale Street Blues). Each selection was well-balanced and stylistically appropriate. The reviewer particularly enjoyed their charming rendition of Chicago, complete with vocal effects!
choirThe Licorice Sticks Clarinet Orchestra truly needs little introduction, as they are known as much for their creative attire as their enthusiasm for all members of the clarinet family. Their wonderfully eccentric flapper-inspired wardrobe looked right at home in the Art Deco inspired Shaver Theater. Regarding their garb, artistic director and showman extraordinaire, Rick Kissinger, cheekily said, “Black is black, and black is boring!” The ‘Sticks opened with Matt Johnston’s (Alry Publications) rollicking arrangement of Danse Macabre. Of most interest, (apart from the members’ fantastic hats and shoes), was the feature of their newest addition, an Albert system A-flat sopranino clarinet! The program also included Moonlight Serenade (with percussion feature), and Alexis Ciesla’s Klezmer Suite. The ‘Sticks weren’t out of surprises, as they substituted the second movement of the Ciesla for a Matt Johnston arrangement of the Cantina Music from Star Wars for E-flat Clarinet Quintet (a hilariously appropriate instrumentation). Needless to say, the audience greeted this with great applause!

–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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Northwest Clarinet Choir and UT Rio Grande Valley Clarinet Choir

William Blayney and the Northwest Clarinet Choir

William Blayney and the Northwest Clarinet Choir

The series of clarinet performances found at ClarinetFest 2014 continued Thursday afternoon with two wonderful clarinet choirs at the two o’clock hour in Shaver Theater. William Blayney conducted the Northwest Clarinet Choir, a consortium of community members from Seattle, Washington.  Bill O’Neil and Jonathan Guist were co-conductors of the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley Clarinet Choir, a group comprised of the combined clarinet studios of the University of Texas Pan American and the University of Texas at Brownsville.  Northwest opened the concert with Blayney’s arrangement of Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus. Later, the auxiliary instruments were given their heyday in Lucien Cailliet’s Fantasie for Clarinet Choir. The A-flat sopranino clarinet (played by David Gould) and the E-flat clarinet (played by Tami Horiuchi) displayed impressive, flashy technique. The group ended with a rousing arrangement of Johan Halvorsen’s Entry March of the Boyars. As a whole, Northwest displayed themselves wonderfully as a dedicated and entertaining community clarinet choir.

The UT Rio Grande Valley Clarinet Choir performing Peter and the Wolf with narrator

The UT Rio Grande Valley Clarinet Choir performing Peter and the Wolf with narrator

The UT – Rio Grande Valley Clarinet Choir began their half of the concert with the short and upbeat work Claribel by Roland Cardon. Already, their choir sounded wonderful, but the best was yet to come! A narrator took the stage as the choir performed a full-length arrangement of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, Op. 67. The display of the various animals and characters by solo members of the choir, including E-flat clarinet, bass clarinet, B-flat clarinet, and contrabass clarinet, were especially entertaining and faithful to the style and intention of the original work for orchestra. The choir’s hard work and attention to detail were evident in this very effective performance.

–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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Middle Tennessee State University Clarinet Choir

mtsuChoirThis 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.

mtsuSoloists

Soloists left to right: Randall Chapman, Clay Hensley, and Gordon Inman

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.

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Fort Lewis College Clarinet Choir and The Music Conservatory of Puerto Rico Clarinet Choir

This morning’s concert  in the Shaver Theater featured two ensemble performances by the Fort Lewis Clarinet Choir and the Coro de Clarinetes del Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico (Music Conservatory of Puerto Rico Clarinet Choir).

The Fort Lewis performance debuted a delightful new arrangement by Dr. Joshua Mietz (Fort Lewis College, San Juan College) of the Beethoven String Quartet No. 1 Op. 18. This early work of Beethoven (actually the second quartet he composed),  was written between 1798 and 1800 and underwent many revisions.  The Fort Lewis Clarinet Choir performed three of the four movements, including the lovely second movement, which was inspired by the tomb scene from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  This performance showed how the clarinet quartet so easily and readily adapts string quartet literature.  The Fort Lewis Clarinet Choir demonstrated this well through use of the bass clarinet and alto clarinet, showcasing the many colors of the clarinet family.

NoraChoir

Puerto Rico Clarinet Choir

Preceding the second half,  Lisa Canning did a pop-up interview with clarinetist Kathleen Jones (Principal Clarinet, Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, professor emeritus Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico).  Ms. Jones spoke of the massive fundraising by the Coro de Clarinetes and the impressive support of the community that enabled the choir to attend ClarinetFest14.  When asked what in her career she still wished to accomplish, Ms. Jones charmingly replied, “Sleep!”

The Coro de Clarinetes presented a passionate and energetic performance.  The first two pieces featured lovely vocals by member Yurina Berrios and guiro by Víctor Carrión.  Throughout the performance, the group maintained a lovely, cohesive sound, good balance, and fine rhythm. The communication was excellent across the conductor-less ensemble.  While much of the repertoire was Puerto Rican-inspired, the group premiered a new work by Alberto Guidobaldi, Three-Minute Rag.  The Guidobaldi featured jazzy E-flat solos by Janice Rivera, and a solid bass line led by Juan Soto.  The performance was well received and elicited an encore, which the Coro happily supplied.  Their enjoyment of playing clarinet and making music was obvious and contagious!

–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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by | August 1, 2014 · 10:04 am

Chattanooga Clarinet Choir

The Chattanooga Clarinet Choir

The Chattanooga Clarinet Choir

The 4:00 hour on Wednesday, July 30 featured the Chattanooga Clarinet Choir, an ensemble of 21 clarinetists from the Volunteer State. The ensemble includes members of a variety of ages and from many walks of life, but the group is unified by a consistently high level of performance. Conducted by Jonathan B. McNair, the group opened with the world premiere of a work by Roger C. Vogel, City Scapes. The group performed four movements of the piece: I Morning Traffic, II A Walk in the Park, III Skyline at Sunset, and IV Night Life. This new work features busy, exciting motives traded between all parts, with some attractive solo moments for the E-flat, principal B-flat and bass clarinet. The second piece on the program, “A Wood Carved River,” was written by the group’s conductor. It began with dark, whirling chromatic lines in unison and octaves with all the parts, and gradually calmed to a chorale-like finale. The performers often sounded like a single super-charged clarinet in the many unison passages. Finally, the group closed their portion of the concert with a charming fantasy on My Funny Valentine by Raymond Decancq. It began wistfully with a lovely cadenza by Nicholas Hartline, but became more jazzy as the piece progressed.

The second half of the program was to have been performed by the Baylor University Clarinet Choir. The Baylor group cancelled their performance after one of the vehicles transporting members of the ensemble to the conference was involved in an accident, claiming the lives of two students. Jonathan McNair dedicated the Chattanooga ensemble’s performance to the Baylor ensemble and its director, Jun Qian. In addition, Victor Chavez, the professor of clarinet at The University of Tennessee-Knoxville and a Baylor alumnus, offered the audience green ribbons that members of the Chattanooga ensemble had made as a memorial. Dr. Chavez had bags of over 1,000 ribbons, to express the ICA’s sorrow at this tragic turn of events. He played the Baylor alma mater and a verse of Amazing Grace, and the performance ended with a moment of silence in memory of those whose lives were lost.

–Notes by Michael Rowlett
Michael Rowlett is 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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