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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.


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

D’Addario Woodwinds Evening Concert

Todd Cope performing Prokofiev

Todd Cope performing Prokofiev

The first day of ClarinetFest2014 has come to a boisterous conclusion with displays of artistry and athleticism from our performers, presenters, and competitors alike.  In similar fashion, the evening’s final performances did not disappoint.  Todd Cope began the recital with an intimate performance of Prokofiev’s Overture on Hebrew Themes, Op. 34a.  The sensitivity in his phrasing and beckoning of his piano dynamics captivated the audience, enrapturing our senses with his tone and dynamicism.

Heinen being interviewedFollowing Cope, Julien Hervé flawlessly captured the mysterious mood of Penderecki’s Sinfonietta No. 2 with equal parts depth and direction.  The earthy basses and soloists of the Ritz Chamber Orchestra led by David Hattner expertly followed Herve’s lead and supported the expansiveness of his sound and interpretive subtleties.

In a drastic turn of style, Joseph Eller captures our attention with his first note, a pointed and clear altissimo.  His svelte tone whirled around the playful melodies and lush harmonies of Ferruccio Busoni’s Concertino Op. 48, BV with expert ease and convictionAfter a brief intermission, Julian Bliss enlightened the audience with his knowledge and understanding of Finzi’s Concerto for Clarinet & String Orchestra, Op. 13.  Drawing from interactions he’s had with Finzi’s son and a first hand look at his writing studio, Bliss constructed a lovely and polished performance.  Never have I seen an audience so eager to applaud the end of a performance, and I have never struggled so much with wanting to applaud between movements.  Bravo!

Soloist Joseph Eller and Conductor David Hattner

Soloist Joseph Eller and Conductor David Hattner

We were presented with a brief pause as Lisa Canning interviewed Julia Heinen, who displayed her humor and candidness to the audience.  After a few short questions, the evening’s music continued with Heinen’s performance of Scott McAllister’s Black Dog.  Her virtuosity and raucous, guitar-like imitations were displayed in McAllister bends, growls, and glissandi.  In a genre all his own, McAllister’s works always find eager listeners and performers.

Julian Blissand Julien Herve'

Julian Bliss and Julien Herve’

The evening came to a close with a duet by Julian Bliss and Julien Hervé.  Their U.S. premiere of Krystof Maratka’s Csardas No. 4 for Two Clarinets and String Orchestra left the audience thrilled to the brim with their folk-stylings of Martka’s dance-inspired work.  After an encore performance displaying their virtuosic range, technical facility, and speed, the recital came to a close and the audience slowly filed their way back to their hotels and homes to eagerly await the start of the next day’s music making.

–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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by | July 31, 2014 · 9:41 am

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.

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by | July 31, 2014 · 9:09 am

Greetings and Salutations!

IMG_20140730_080033109~2Hello and welcome to the ClarinetFest 2014 Blog!  It’s an uncharacteristically cool summer morning in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as the festival begins.   With attendees arriving, the halls are abuzz with eager performers, lecturers, and presenters echoing what can only be an exciting week of clarinet to come.  The campus has been busy for days with rehearsals and volunteers working tirelessly to provide exceptional performances and classes for the attendees, and every amount of work and effort culminates as the doors open, badges are issued, and the halls and classrooms fill.

Our first day brings several research competitors, performances, and our first lectures on entrepreneurship, this year’s aptly chosen ClarinetFest topic.  In a time where the successful must be more than talented and hardworking, the young performer is continually seeking new ways and new mindsets to help build their career and ensure a successful future.  This festival will hopefully be one of many experiences that the clarinet community will draw from as we continue in a fast and constantly evolving field.

In addition to the entrepreneurial lectures, ClarinetFest 2014 will be filled with master classes, performances, and several competitions throughout to keep every attendee engaged and enlivened with various musical inspirations.  If you were unable to attend this year, check back daily to read a full report on each scheduled event.  You can see the daily schedules along with their programs and short abstracts here.  Be sure to like the posts and follow the ClarinetFest Blog to be alerted when new reports are published each morning.  Let’s get #ClarinetFest2014 trending!  Wherever this day finds you, we hope you have a great one.

See y’all again soon,
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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by | July 30, 2014 · 8:02 am