Tag Archives: Evan Christopher

Until Next Year

2014-08-07What a whirlwind of a conference! With a record of more than 1400 registrants, this has been said to be the largest ClarinetFest to date. Bravo to Mr. Robert DiLutis and his team on an extremely successful conference, and bravo for choosing such a relevant topic. With workshops on navigating social media, marketing, and creating your own business along with traditional classes on reeds, masterclasses, and excerpts, clarinetists were given a wealth of information to help make them more well-rounded and prepared professionals of today. In today’s musical marketplace, musicians are not only expected to play styles from jazz to classical, but they must be able to create a concert series, build an audience, and function as an educator in order to remain relevant. Does this seem daunting? Of course it does, but none of these things in and of themselves are impossible, it’s about finding your voice, and with the tools from this year’s ClarinetFest, young and established professionals alike are more prepared for the changing face of our field.
All that being said, in addition to navigating a “business model,” we have to have the goods. The best marketing strategy, most inventive ideas, and attractive personalities are meaningless if you do not have the artistic skills and technique as a foundation for your musical endeavors. With inspiring concerts and recitals throughout each day and closing each evening, we were constantly reminded of the fierce dedication we must have to our craft and the level of excellence we must strive for.
For more details about entrepreneurship and the world of clarinet, search this blog. Each blog is tagged with topics such as entrepreneurship, bass clarinet, jazz, the names of specific artists performing and presenting, etc. See you at ClarinetFest 2015 in Madrid, Spain hosted by Pedro Rubio and Justo Sanz!

–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 witThe Candid Concert Opera’s Orchestra Nova and the Chicago Symphonic Winds.

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Filed under Day 5, Uncategorized

Evan Christophe​r Workshop

evan christopherOn Thursday morning in Shaver Theater, clarinetist Evan Christopher presented a workshop on New Orleans clarinet style. An informal poll at the start of the class confirmed that most at the workshop had heard him play the night before, so they were already familiar with his music and clarinet playing.

Evan stated that he does not really see himself as a clarinetist… rather, he sees himself as a musician who just happens to play the clarinet. During the course of the workshop, he used audience participation (both in terms of verbal answers to questions and with their clarinet playing) to explain how he makes various sounds on the clarinet. He also spoke about the heritage of New Orleans music-making and clarinet playing, and how that influences what he does everyday.

One concept he covered was the idea that jazz music evolved from how New Orleans musicians were making music. When he moved to New Orleans over 20 years ago, many of the clarinetists directly involved in this heritage had already passed on, so he researched their lives and music in archives at libraries in the city. He said it was almost like taking lessons from “ghosts.” Of course, this study combined with his practical application of these ideas and his own personal take on the music and concepts he encountered lead him to what he is today.

He frequently referred to great New Orleans clarinetists of the past, such as Sidney Bechet, Omer Simeon, Barney Bigard, and Johnny Dodds, when discussing various sounds New Orleans clarinetists make. Evan discussed the fact that he plays an Albert system clarinet for aesthetic reasons, yet many New Orleans clarinetists of the past probably played one because it was what was available from musical instrument dealers in the area, many of whom were from German families. He also noted that he plays a mouthpiece that is more open and has a longer facing that what most classical musicians use.

Although Christopher is a great verbal communicator, perhaps the most fun for the audience during this workshop was when they were encouraged to experiment with various clarinet sounds associated with New Orleans clarinet playing. He asked them to experiment with bending pitches on their mouthpiece/reed alone. Then he asked them to try this on the fully assembled clarinet. They later experimented with growls, pitch shading, and the glissando.

The workshop ended with questions from the audience and at the conclusion of the class, many participants stayed to talk with Evan about his approach to music-making. This was an excellent class covering a style of clarinet playing that many classical clarinetists appreciate, but do not completely understand. Thanks Evan!

–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.

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Filed under Day 3, lecture

A Night of Jazz

Gregory Agid and Evan Christopher

Gregory Agid and Evan Christopher

Tonight was a night of true charm. The entrepreneurial clarinet experienced the drama and fancies of classical music by day, and the ‘down in da Parish’ nitty-gritty bayou jams by night. The evening started with several tunes by local kings of New Orleans jazz, Evan Christopher and Gregory Agid assisted by local musicians Tom Mitchell (guitar), John Previti (bass), Troy Davis (drums), and Willis Delony (piano). Christopher and Agid shared several standards and originals for the audience this evening each displaying their mastery, furthering their reputations as our generation’s local legends. Christopher opened the evening by introducing charts (“Blues in the Air” and “Banjo Noir”) by pioneers of New Orleans clarinet Sidney Bechet and Alvin Batiste. Their excitement was infectious. As solos were passed between the featured guests and supporting musicians, there were whoops and hollers from musicians and the audience members alike. As Christopher led tunes “La Ciudad Criolla,” “Tande’ Sak Fe Loraj Gwonde,” and “Waltz for All Souls,” all penned by himself, his natural leadership took center stage. An entertainer through and through, his control, originality, and playful personality shone as bright as a full moon on the Mississippi at night. When Agid’s tune “Summer’s Song” (dedicated to his deceased, young student) and “Swag” were performed, his bag of tricks revealed greater depth than the crowd could have hoped. His funky rhythms, riffs, and colors infected and affected us. In the final number of the first half, Harry Skoler and Felix Peikli joined Agid and Christopher for a jazz clarinet quartet arrangement of “The Mooche” by Duke Ellington. The room’s applause hardly ceased. Transitioning from New Orleans rock to classic swing, their power and prowess was palatable.

Felix Peikli (left) and Harry Skoler (left) playing Swedish Pastry by Barney Kessell

Felix Peikli (left) and Harry Skoler (left) playing Swedish Pastry by Barney Kessell

Nearly an hour and a half into the night’s performance, Peikli and Skoler took the stage despite a fatigued and fading crowd. Skoler, a consummate gentleman, played with class and old school swagger reminiscent of old New Orleans traditions. As Peikli followed, we heard his compositional chops with “Nocturnal,” a sensitive and moving ballad revealing that this young musician of 24 has more than incredible technique and seemingly natural instincts. He is also a creator of fine music and charm. In his last numbers alone on stage, his technical mastery was unleashed in full force with an unaccompanied improvisation on Gershwin’s “Summertime” which speedily zipped by and immediately transitioned into Grolnick’s “Nothing Personal.” The two pieces seemed to come together as one with the tune of “Summertime” weaving in and out hypnotically by Peikli and pianist Willis Delony.

It would be criminal not to mention the incredible presence and talents of the assisting musicians. The fineness of Delony and the raw power of drummer Troy Davis drove massive force of the ensemble allowing guitar John Previti and bass Tom Mitchell to outline subtle harmonies and nuance.

In the final moments of the evening, Peikli, Skoler, and Agid were joined on stage by none other than Dr. John Cipolla, I.C.A. President, for a final jam session on the blues chart “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” A true master of all styles, Cipolla led the jam, making every lick seem organic and fluid. The quartet of clarinet stars listened with intensity while Dixieland-style improvisations took place with typical busyness of polyphony and flirtatious character. Both exhausted and refreshed, the remaining audience approached the stage for congratulations, autographs, and the satisfaction of meeting these wonderful musicians and personalities. Laissez les bon temps rouler, indeed!

–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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Filed under Day 2, Evening Concert, Performances