Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Fidelio Podcast: Interview with Marie Ross (Dec. 2015 column)

In this column, we interviewed Marie Ross about The Fidelio Podcast, her twice-monthly podcast about topics in the arts including early music and period instruments. Dr. Ross is a historical clarinet specialist and arranger living in Germany. She is associate principal clarinetist with the French period-instrument orchestra Ensemble Matheus, and performs regularly with various other historical orchestras including Concerto Köln, MusicAeterna and Akademie für Alte Music Berlin. You can listen to the podcast at and access more information including tons of photos of Marie and her guests on the podcast's Facebook page.

Clarinet Cache: Why did you decide to create The Fidelio Podcast?
Marie Ross: This is a big question, with a few different answers! I went to high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy, which is a school for many artistic disciplines. It was great to be around not only other serious musicians my age, but also kids who were pursuing careers as dancers, visual artists, and actors, etc.  Fifteen years later, having gone into the highly specialized world of early music, I started to miss the different conversations with artists outside my discipline. I find these are often the kind of conversations that can open your mind to new ideas and give you fresh inspiration or a new approach for your own work. I also remembered when I was a student I would hear recordings of historical performance, but I had very little idea of what it really was, how those musicians got involved in it, or how they were working. It turns out that being a historical performer is very different from life as a mainstream modern classical musician. I wanted to describe some of these things to people and to share my own experiences as a historical performer. Audio is the best medium for me to do that – I’ve been in love with radio since I was young – and podcasting itself is a revolutionary movement like early music!

CC: The show features guests with diverse backgrounds. How you do select guests?
MR: I always choose artists whose work I love, who have inspired me, and who I’m excited to share with other people. Many of my guests work at various different artistic endeavors, like Michael Walters who was transitioning from being a ballet dancer into an actor, or the Steindler sisters who are both baroque violinists and fashion designers. I started out interviewing friends, amazing artists that I’ve met in my life and who I knew I could count on for a fascinating and deep conversation. Then I started interviewing the artists I was lucky enough to be working with, world-class singers and conductors. And now, as in the case of long-time Simpsons director, Mark Kirkland, incredible artists are starting to find me. He had heard my podcast, gotten in touch, and now after we made a couple of great episodes about his career in animation and his own projects as a filmmaker, I consider him a good friend.

CC: What are some of your favorite clarinet guests or topics covered?
MR: When I started the show, I wanted to establish that it wasn’t a clarinet show – or even a music show – so I actually avoided having too many clarinetists as guests in the beginning. I did interview Luigi Magistrelli about his set of late Romantic German clarinets owned by Dieter Klöcker. Luigi shared so much information about the instruments, but also made a point to talk about his relationship and respect for Klöcker, even mentioning how he can still feel Klöcker’s sound in the clarinets when he plays them. That interview was a part of two episodes I did with my early music colleagues about the stories of their favorite original historical wind instruments. I’m a huge opera fan, so I love interviewing opera stars. What’s fun is that usually I end up talking to them about playing clarinet, and we start comparing singing with being an instrumentalist. The episodes I make myself without guests are all special to me as well. One of my favorites to make was about my experience playing a whole season just of Rossini opera, and how that changes you as a player. I did a lot of research about Rossini and the Italian opera world of the time, and compared it with the opera productions we make today. It was fun to see how hectic and chaotic musical life was then, and how not much has changed.

CC: Your podcasts are interesting and informative from a historical perspective. What kind of audience does your podcast reach?
MR: Making the podcast has been an incredible experience because I’ve reached such a wide audience. I’ve made a lot of friends with people who have heard it and gotten in touch on social media. Because of the podcast, I’ve been in contact with Irish poets, Broadway theater fans, art students, Los Angeles filmmakers, James Joyce scholars, all kinds of musicians from around the world, and of course just regular people who are interested in the arts. When I make an episode or an interview, especially with musicians, it can be tempting to get too technical or too much into detail that only other professional musicians would understand, but I try hard to avoid that. Each time I make an episode, I think specifically of three people who I know are out there listening: a 15 year-old girl in Paris who is studying piano and found me from my first episode, an amateur footballer in Indiana who has an office day-job and told me that he has become more curious about culture since finding my podcast, and my mom – who still knows very little about music, but will listen if I explain things to her. Having them in my mind helps me keep the content clear and accessible.

CC: What are your future plans for the podcasts?
MR: I plan to start having more clarinetist guests. I am looking forward to doing an interview soon with Frank Cohen among others. Otherwise, I’m just planning to keep meeting interesting artists who show me how all the arts are connected, and to use it as a platform to talk about what we do as historical performers.

CC: Do you have any new performance projects lined up?
MR: Yes, I’m very excited because in 2016 I will be putting together a wind octet made up of the best historical wind players from all over Europe, a kind of “dream team” to play in the Concertgebouw Brugge. Classical-period wind octet music is my topic, so I’ll be talking a bit about my research and playing my own arrangements with the group. I also have a new Rossini opera coming up with Ensemble Matheus, and the “Folle nuit” concert we do, which I want to make a podcast episode about. It means “crazy night,” and we play all kinds of music all night long from 7 PM to 7 AM. We play our symphonic and operatic repertoire, but then different groups of musicians also play solo repertoire, jazz, rock, and last year we even had an orchestral “karaoke” concert where people from the audience came up and sang opera arias with us! It’s totally insane and ends with a huge breakfast with the audience in the morning.

CC: And lastly, what is your favorite clarinet to play on?

MR: That’s a difficult question. Some days I think it’s my 10-key late Classical clarinet which is probably the one I play most often, some days I think it’s the basset-horn, and sometimes I definitely think it’s one of the Oskar Oehler late Romantic clarinets. Actually I think I’m a lot like my friend Alexis Kossenko. I asked him to bring one of his favorite flutes to talk about for my episode about instruments, and the next day he came to the theater with five flutes from different eras, because there was just no way he could choose one. So we sat backstage before our performance, and he demonstrated all of the flutes for me and told me about each one, which I later made into a whole episode!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Clarinet Chamber Ensembles (Sept. 2015 column)

Clarinet Chamber Ensembles
In this column we took a look at clarinet chamber ensembles with interesting resources on the Internet. Using the listing of ensembles at the “Links” page along with other sources, we came up with some standout groups that have good audio files and videos online, and may help you discover new repertoire for small clarinet ensemble.
Carolina Clarinet Quartet
In our research for this column we came across Carolina Clarinet Quartet’s website and were impressed by the amount of information located on their page. The PDF file of their music library covers over three hundred clarinet quartets and many entries include timings and brief remarks on each piece. Several of these works have been arranged by Carolina Clarinet Quartet’s founding members Brent Smith and Jim Williams and are available for purchase on the site. Over half of the entries contain audio samples and recordings made by the group, allowing visitors an opportunity to hear excerpts of pieces. These recordings, coupled with the practical annotations, are a great resource for those wishing to expand their knowledge of the genre’s repertoire.  Also found on the website is a list of the group’s favorite compositions to play and a link to Smith’s informative article “Clarinet Mouthpiece Materials.” Another useful component of the website is an extensive index of clarinet quartet organizations, searchable by both name and location. Despite the index page not being updated for over two years, this list provides further points for exploration of clarinet quartets, and provides links to their websites.

Chicago Clarinet Ensemble
The Chicago Clarinet Ensemble is a group made up of both professional clarinetists and gifted younger students from the Chicago area. With a flexible approach to instrumentation, the ensemble’s membership ranges from two players to thirty-five or more musicians. Many of the group’s performances have featured guest soloists such as Stanley Drucker and Anthony McGill. Founded by Rose Sperrazza in 2007, the ensemble is in residence at Northeastern Illinois University. Aiding in the promotion of new music, the group has commissioned eight new works and even has a composer-in-residence, Leo Schwartz. His newest compositions are listed on their website, including audio and video footage of two of his works. Visit their website to learn more about their core members, current events and performances, and hear live performances by the group, including a work for clarinet choir and synthesizer.

Clarinetes Ad Libitum
Clarinetes Ad Libitum is a Portuguese clarinet quartet with percussion, performing folk and traditional music of a variety of cultures. The videos on their website show their affinity for theatrical performances -- they often utilize percussion and vocals, and extramusical elements include a fog machine and removal of shirts onstage! You can also stream their entire album “Contradanza” via their website: a good place to explore clarinet quartet repertoire off the beaten path.

Ensemble 54
The clarinet quartet Ensemble 54 (Josh Kovach, Pascal Archer, David Gould and Nuno Antunes) doesn’t have a ton of information on its website, but they they have a Facebook page and YouTube account where you can find some great videos of their repertoire. These video performances include works by Tomasi and Farkas along with less traditional fare, like a work for clarinet quartet and solo ocarina, and even a duo arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” for A-flat sopranino clarinet and contrabass clarinet!

Farallon Quintet
The Farallon Quintet from the San Francisco Bay Area is a unique chamber group that solely performs clarinet quintet (clarinet plus string quartet) repertoire. The group was founded in 2012 and all of the quintet members are active musicians performing in the Bay Area. Clarinetist Natalie Parker is also principal clarinetist of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. The quintet’s repertoire is not limited to the standard works and they have worked with a handful of composers to commission and premiere new works. They also play lesser-known compositions such as film composer Bernard Herrmann’s quintet Souvenirs de Voyage, which can be heard on a video on their website. The ensemble’s website includes a blog that allows the group to expand upon their musical mission and to highlight new or unknown works and their composers. One blog post alerts viewers the large volume of works found on Earsense, an extensive chamber music database, which currently lists 169 compositions for the genre. This database is a terrific starting point for those researching or looking up chamber music with various instrumental combinations that include the clarinet.

Duo Gurfinkel

Turning to literature for clarinet duo, the website of the Duo Gurfinkel is a great place to start. These twin brothers from Israel, Alexander and Daniel Gurfinkel, were born in 1992 and by the age of 12 were performing as soloists with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. The duo’s website has some great performance videos along with a handy repertoire list including works for two clarinets alone, two clarinets with piano, and two clarinets with orchestra.

Monday, June 29, 2015

New Clarinet Blogs

In this column, we explore several interesting clarinet blogs that have emerged in the past year or so. But first, we want to acknowledge the retirement of our editor and teacher James Gillespie, known to us now and forever as “Dr. Gillespie.” His talent as an editor lies not just in his vast understanding of clarinet history, but also his ability to look ahead to the future. It was back in 2008 that he had the foresight to envision a column about internet resources for clarinet, and offered advice and support as we designed the Clarinet Cache blog and worked on those first few columns. As clarinetists, scholars and writers, Dr. Gillespie has influenced both of us immeasurably. We join in with the rest of the clarinet community in thanking him for his dedicated work to advance our profession through the written word.
One of our new discoveries is a popular blog by Heather Roche, a clarinetist originally from Canada, now living in Germany and specializing in contemporary music. Her posts on extended techniques go well beyond the material found in many textbooks. She explores specific types of multiphonics, prepared bass clarinet (modifying the instrument for unusual effects), slap tonguing, and other techniques, all with helpful videos and audio examples. Roche recently held a composition competition, financed by a crowdfunding campaign (see our December 2014 column on crowdfunding initiatives by other clarinetists) and publicized via her blog. Since then, she’s published a couple articles giving valuable advice to composers. Roche is not afraid to branch off from contemporary music to explore other subjects; her "Collaborative History of the Clarinet" series provides thoughtful commentary on Mozart/Stadler, Spohr/Hermstedt and other famous composer/clarinetist pairs.
In her budding blog "Music1oh1," Mary Alice Druhan reaches out to musicians, teachers and students alike with her insightful posts aimed to help readers cope with the various challenges of learning and playing the clarinet. As associate professor of clarinet at Texas A&M University-Commerce and an active performer, her perspective on topics like facing performance-based challenges, correcting technique, and understanding how to set practice rooms expectations and goals comes from years of experience. 

In her "Branching Out" blog post, Druhan gives a guide to high school solo repertoire and discusses the advantages to assigning multiple works from different musical periods over the course of one year. Her lists of works within each period could serve as a starting point for teachers looking to keep their students interested and engaged in the learning process while covering significant works within the repertoire. The post on practice room expectations gives students advice on how to start enjoying their time in the practice room and how to get more out of each practice session, something most students struggle with. Druhan created Music1oh1 in September 2014, and it has already become an appealing resource for clarinetists. We hope that she will continue with her inspirational postings in the future!
Clarinetist Richard Stoltzman needs little introduction to our readers, who may be interested to know about a new blog on his website at A fairly recent initiative, the blog has a handful of posts including answers to frequently asked questions about Stoltzman’s equipment and practice habits, a remembrance of Benny Goodman, and links to recent performances.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Website Watch (March 2015 column)

As was announced in the December 2014 issue, the I.C.A. has launched its James Gillespie Online Research Library, named in honor of our illustrious editor! The library is a searchable archive of every issue of The Clarinet, from 1973 to the present. That’s 164 issues to date -- more than 40 years of master class articles, clarinetist profiles, equipment discussions, music reviews, and much, much more.

The treasures available in the archive are numerous. Clarinet historian Albert R. Rice contributed a number of excellent articles to the journal over the years, beginning back in volume 4. Michael Webster has written 64 articles in his “Teaching Clarinet” series, a fantastically thorough resource for teachers. Did you know that Paul Harvey’s first article for The Clarinet, “The Clarinet Music of Gordon Jacob,” appeared in volume 2?  And don’t forget James Gillespie’s own work dating back to the very first volume of the journal, including his multi-part features “I Wonder Who the Clarinet Player Was? The Hollywood Clarinetists” and “The Movies of Benny Goodman -- A Pictorial Retrospective.”

The Online Research Library also serves as a valuable record of original writings by esteemed clarinetists who are no longer with us. These include pedagogical articles by Keith Stein, historical articles by Pamela Weston, equipment investigations by Lee Gibson, and Rosario Mazzeo’s “Mazzeo Musings” series, which ran from 1986 to 1994.

The applications for use of this library are many. Performers can do a search for the title of a work they’re preparing to find historical information or master class articles. Clarinet professors can consult the wealth of pedagogy articles for help with the challenges of teaching clarinet -- or they could even make the library a required course text, introducing their students to the I.C.A. and the benefits of membership. Scholars will want to consult the numerous articles on historical clarinets and clarinetists of the past. Without a doubt, clarinetists around the world will be inspired to join the I.C.A. in order to gain access to the incredible resource of the James Gillespie Online Research Library.

If you, like many musicians, dutifully created a personal website sometime in the early 2000’s and then let it languish with sporadic updates ever since, you might want to look to as inspiration for an update. Ferreira has gone above and beyond the typical bio/calendar/audio artist website, creating a clean, contemporary online space that serves not just as a digital business card, but a platform for interacting with his audience.

Ferreira’s site first caught our attention with his “Clarinet in the Digital Age” project.  In the fall of 2014, he encouraged fans to vote on repertoire for an upcoming recital.  Visitors to the “Vote” page had the opportunity to choose between two musical selections in six different genres, with audio clips to help make their decision.  Ferreira has committed to performing the most popular selections on his “Clarinet in the Digital Age” recital on March 9, 2015 at Colorado State University, where he is on faculty. Bringing the project full-circle, the concert will be live-streamed online so that fans from around the world can listen.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Clarinet Crowdfunding (December 2014 column)

In recent years, a new model has emerged for artists and entrepreneurs looking to raise money for their projects. Crowdfunding, in which the Internet is used as a resource for fundraising small amounts of money from a large number of people, has revolutionized the way many musicians approach recording projects. is the most popular platform for this type of fundraising, so in this column we’ll explore several recent Kickstarter campaigns by clarinetists.

David Gould
In May of 2013, clarinetist David Gould finished fundraising for his project The Forgotten Clarinet, a recording of lesser-known French works for clarinet and piano. Currently bass clarinetist for the American Ballet Theater Orchestra in New York City, Gould recorded more familiar works like Raymond Gallois-Montbrun’s Concertstucke and Marc Delmas’ Fantaisie Italienne, along with obscure works such as Paul Ladmirault’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano and Rene de Boisdeffre’s Three Pieces. Using a common tactic for Kickstarter campaigns for recording projects, Gould offered a copy of the completed CD as a reward for donating at least $20 -- allowing the campaign to function as a preorder for the CD. Funding obtained from Kickstarter covered Gould’s costs for recording, mastering, and production of the recording, which is now available for purchase.

Paul Cantrell
Composer Paul Cantrell used Kickstarter back in September of 2012 to help fund the manufacture and publicity of his work The Broken Mirror of Memory for bass clarinet and piano. Receiving first prize in the 2012 I.C.A. Composition Competition, the work was premiered at ClarinetFest in Lincoln, Nebraska with great success, and with the help of supporters through donations on Kickstarter, Cantrell was able to print and distribute recordings and scores. Exceeding his initial fundraising goals, he was able to provide additional promotion of his work with the extra funds. Originally conceived as a piece for piano and cello, Cantrell worked with bass clarinetist Pat O’Keefe to breathe new life into the piece. Commentary by Cantrell and snippets of the piece can be heard on the video posted on his Kickstarter page.

Michael Lowenstern
Michael Lowenstern’s unique Kickstarter project funded a set of recordings of each work in the popular Rubank Concert & Contest Collection book of solos for bass clarinet. Unlike many musicians who use Kickstarter to raise funds to create a recording for commercial release, Lowenstern’s goal was to provide these recordings for download online for free as a resource for bass clarinetists. In July 2013 he met his $4,500 goal to cover the recording costs, and the tracks are now available on his website at

The most recent project we took a closer look at was a CD and method book project by GremlinsDuo (Tim Fitzgerald and Jonathan Goodman). The clarinet/bass clarinet duo raised $1,700 this past August to release a CD of commissioned works and publish their two new method books, the first focusing on quarter-tone exercises and the second comprising a “Buddy System” warm-up book. As with many of the other campaigns, the finished products are offered as rewards at various levels of backer support.

Among the other Kickstarter campaigns to reach their fundraising goal are projects by clarinetists Laura Carmichael, Jorge Variego, Andrew DeBoer, Gleb Kanasevich and the Sqwonk Duo, to name a few. Visit to explore these successful campaigns and learn more about this method of fundraising. You might just be inspired to become a backer yourself!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A Guide to Bass Clarinet on the Web (Sept. 2014 column)

For this special bass clarinet-themed issue of The Clarinet, we created an annotated guide to some of the best online bass clarinet resources.

International Bass Clarinet Research Center
One of the most exciting bass clarinet projects on the web today is the International Bass Clarinet Research Center (Centro Internazionale di Ricerca sul Clarinetto Basso, or CIRCB). This website essentially attempts to gather any and all information relating to the bass clarinet and make it accessible to users in an easily searchable and sortable database of annotated listings and primary sources. There are versions in English, French, German and Italian.

The project’s stated goals are to increase insight into the history and the evolution of the bass clarinet and to stimulate biographical and historical study of players and their works. To that end, the contributors have created a database with more than 7,300 compositions and more than 100 recordings. The catalog of repertoire is easily searchable and includes a discography and publisher for each work. There is also an annotated bibliography of bass clarinet books sortable by subject, as well as dissertations, full-text articles, and scans of original manuscripts for older works featuring the bass clarinet like Verdi’s La Forza del Destino, with much of this material available for download. At CIRCB you can even find information about patents relating to the bass clarinet and a catalog of early models of the bass clarinet. And if you’re not looking for something specific, the homepage includes featured recordings and videos so you can start exploring.

Italian clarinetists Stefano Cardo, Elisa Marchetti, Alessandro Monitillo and Roberto Bocchio launched CIRCB in 2010, and it has since gained contributors like Albert Rice and Keith Bowen, and a video endorsement by Harry Spaarnay. These individuals are to be commended for creating a website that is not only an invaluable resource, but also aesthetically pleasing and well-organized. The sheer wealth of information and ease of use only makes us wish for a similar website for the soprano clarinet.

Jason Alder
Jason Alder’s personal website,, has a snazzy interface that first greets viewers with layered tracks of bass clarinet sounds, and with the option to view the site with a high or low-speed connection. Alder is an American clarinetist and bass clarinetist residing in Amsterdam and specializing in new and contemporary music. He has created an extensive quarter-tone fingering chart for Buffet instruments available in PDF format. Multiple links to his videos and recordings on his homepage include music from several ensembles that he collaborates with, including the group Payazen!, a “psychedelic klezmer-jazz band,” where you can hear him wail on the bass clarinet. Alder’s blog is full of helpful, in-depth information including updates about his current projects and reviews of technical gear such as clip microphones. Alder has a knack for writing and his blog narratives are a pleasure to read.

Sauro Berti 
Sauro Berti, bass clarinetist of the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, has a commendable website at with downloadable files of bass clarinet sheet music, as well as audio and video files of Berti performing on soprano clarinet, bass clarinet, and basset horn. In the “downloads” section you can find the introductory page and first etude of his book, Venti studi, which contains exercises tailored to the specific needs of the bass clarinet and basset horn that other standard method books fail to address. His links to both a reed strength chart and a bass clarinet mouthpiece comparison chart prove helpful in comparing commercial reed strength variances and in corresponding facing measurements of many factory-made and handcrafted mouthpieces. For full access to all of the components on Berti’s website, viewers can register on the site for free. And for readers not fluent in Italian, we recommend using an Internet browser that easily allows translation of websites, such as Google Chrome. Although activity on his website and blog has remained dormant for the past few years, we hope that Berti will continue to add more valuable content in the near future.

Michael Lowenstern
We reviewed Michael Lowenstern’s website at back in our December 2008 column, but a lot has changed since then -- and we would expect nothing less from Lowenstern, whose talent at the bass clarinet is equaled only by his talent for web design. He recently recorded the classic Voxman bass clarinet solo book, the Rubank Concert & Contest Collection, and made the recordings available for free download from his website. Registering to the site for free also allows access to download PDF scores and MP3s of music by Lowenstern and others. He also has a great blog, and bass clarinetists owe it to themselves to explore Lowenstern’s YouTube channel, with about 2,000 subscribers and 40 videos in his “So You Want to Be a Bass Clarinet Player” series.

Edward S. Palanker
Edward S. Palanker, bass clarinetist with the Baltimore Symphony and retired from teaching at the Peabody Conservatory, has written many articles for The Clarinet over the years. He has made these articles available on his website, where his section on bass clarinet includes some great information about orchestral excerpts for bass and what can be expected at a bass clarinet orchestra audition.

The [Bass] Clarinet of the 21st Century 
E. Michael Richards’ book The Clarinet of the Twenty-First Century, mentioned in our March 2012 column on contemporary clarinet resources, is available online and has a chapter focusing on the bass clarinet. Richards discusses at length the acoustics of the instrument and its extended techniques, with accompanying spectrograms. The chapter includes fingering charts for altissimo, quarter-tones and multiphonics, with examples from contemporary music.

Aber/Lerstad Altissimo Fingerings
Another resource for bass and contrabass clarinet altissimo fingerings is a website with articles and charts by Thomas Aber and Terje Lerstad. Aber’s bass clarinet chart encompasses fingerings from C-sharp3 to C5; Lerstad’s contrabass chart ranges from C-sharp3 to an impressive G6. Both charts indicate which fingerings work best on different makes of low clarinets.

The Woodwind Fingering Guide 
Timothy Reichard’s altissimo Boehm-system finger chart for alto, bass, and contrabass clarinets at is easy to read, with commentary on pitch tendencies. Although Reichard’s chart does not reach as high as Aber and Lerstad’s fingering charts, the layout and clean format of the chart makes it a go-to resource for players and teachers alike.

Alea Publishing
Alea Publishing at is a company that specializes in bass clarinet sheet music. Created by the group “Duo Alea,” bass clarinetist Michael Davenport and pianist Kimberly Davenport, the website contains a large inventory of bass clarinet music available for purchase. In 1998 they began to compile what is now an extensive bibliography of bass clarinet compositions of solo works, chamber ensembles, concertos, and duet arrangements, with newer works continuously added. An impressive number of entries listed under the “Bass clarinet with tape/electronics” section illustrates how popular this genre of instrumentation was three or four decades ago, with the main group of compositions dating back to the last quarter of the twentieth century. One great feature of the bibliography is the option to purchase music directly from Alea Publishing within the entries (when applicable). Another useful component is the classified section, a wonderful platform for those wanting to buy or sell bass clarinet-related items.

IMSLP is always a great resource for public domain sheet music, and it has a mixture of newer original works for bass clarinet and and older transcriptions. Just look under “Instrumentation/Genre” and find the bass clarinet category under “Featured Instruments.” 
The Octocontrabass page at Grant D. Green's fascinating site has a collection of information on the lowest of the low wind instruments.

All you need is a Yahoo! login to join a fairly active Yahoo! group called “NewBassClarinetGroup” with many knowledgeable contributors.

Let us know if we missed any important bass clarinet website and we'll add them to the list.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Clarinet Social Media Roundup (June 2014 column)

Since the Clarinet Cache column began in 2008, social media has in a few short years become one of the primary ways that many people communicate and share information with others. By now most of you are aware that you can connect with your favorite performers and ensembles online; these days everyone from your local clarinet repair technician to the U.S. Navy Band is on Facebook, with more and more joining Twitter all the time.  Here are a few of our favorites on Facebook and Twitter:

First, all of our readers will want to make sure they’ve connected with the International Clarinet Association Facebook page. Previously, the International Clarinet Association had a “group,” which still exists and is very active with members posting often. But as Facebook evolved, they introduced the concept of “pages” designed for organizations and businesses, and the I.C.A. decided to take advantage of the new format. Timothy Phillips, professor of clarinet at Troy University, set up this page in February 2013 and continues to do a great job maintaining it on behalf of the I.C.A. “Like” the I.C.A. page for information about clarinet workshops, competitions, clarinet news, and announcements from the I.C.A. -- and look out for photos and reviews from the upcoming ClarinetFest in Baton Rouge!

All the way back in September 2008, our column published an interview with James Zimmerman about his new Facebook group, Clarinet Jobs.  Like the I.C.A., Zimmerman decided to migrate activity to a “Page” which has more than 4600 likes.  This page has really become the place to go for news about upcoming auditions and audition winners.

On the Clarinet Corner Facebook page, Timothy Phillips lets you know what interviews and music he has coming up on his radio show Clarinet Corner, which you can listen to online.

Denise Razzouk created the Clarinet Jazz Point page in 2009 and continues to actively post videos and news about jazz clarinet. The page has nearly 4,000 fans who also share their own links and projects.

We’ve blogged a couple times about the Clarinets for Conservation organization, which combines sustainability efforts and musical instruction in a unique way: they support efforts to protect and plant the mpingo tree from which clarinets are made, while also offering free clarinet instruction for the communities in which these trees grow. Stay in touch with this group’s efforts via their Facebook page, where you can learn about ongoing fundraising efforts and volunteer opportunities.

For the younger crowd, the Clarinet Memes page shares clarinet-related memes including quite a few Spongebob references!
Photo: So true for clarinet players....

Twitter is a great way to keep up with the latest news and find links to clarinet content of interest.  Here are some of our favorite performers on Twitter:
@JBlissClarinet [edit: handle changed to @Julian__Bliss] Julian Bliss, British clarinetist
@earspasm - Michael Lowenstern, NYC-based bass clarinetist
@requinta - Wesley Ferreira, professor at Colorado State University
@multiphonic - Gregory Oakes, professor at Iowa State University
@ThiagoTavares - Thiago Tavares, Brazilian Symphony Orchestra
@ThomasPiercy - Thomas Piercy, artistic director and clarinetist of the Gotham ensemble in NYC

Here are some of our other favorite feeds:
@woodwindninja - Bret Pimentel’s educational feed about all things woodwind.
@ClarinetJobs - Clarinet Jobs feed about audition postings and winners
@CClarinetist - Curious Clarinetist shares posts from their blog on a variety of clarinet-related topics
@ClarinetNow - Account associated with the Clarinet-Now website, run by West Point Band clarinetist Chris Jones
@ClariperuNews - Clarinet news from South America via Marco Mazzini

Of course, on Twitter you can also find many clarinet-related businesses like @VandorenUSA, @LegereReeds, @BackunMusical, and Phil Muncy of Muncy Winds (@klarinut). Check out everyone we’re following on Twitter by looking us up at @ClarinetCache.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Website Watch (March 2014 column)

The Vintage Clarinet Doctor
Jeremy Soule runs a vintage clarinet repair business out of Staunton, Virginia, and his website is a great resource for lovers of vintage horns. offers information on vintage instrument history, makers, different fingering systems, and historical background on obscure instrument brands.  An overview of the different types of systems is a great tool for understanding the evolution and innovations made to the clarinet over the decades. High-quality photographs accompany the various systems listed and make it easy to visualize and compare the differences between each type of key system.  

You can also purchase vintage clarinets and mouthpieces directly on Soule’s site or send in your antique instrument for repair. The “before and after” pictures offer a close-up view of rare instruments and reveal how the instruments are brought back to life after being overhauled. The instruments pictured include a rare piccolo clarinet in A-flat and a 1928 Kohlert silver sax oboe.

For those interested in the restoration, construction, or the technical side of instrument repair be sure to visit Soule’s blog, The Licorice Shtick Blog, accessible through the home page. Here Soule covers general topics as well as matters pertinent to instrument repair. The entry on swedging and countersinking is particularly enlightening to those interested in the mechanics of woodwind repair.

The Discerning Clarinetist is a newly designed website by Tyler Zey where you can purchase and sell lightly-used clarinet equipment at discounted prices. Products for sale include mouthpieces, cases, instruments, and barrels with a return policy that gives customers a trial period to test out equipment. Similar to the return policies of larger commercial retailers, returned merchandise is accepted with a return shipping fee and restocking fee paid by the customer. In each product entry, Zey includes a brief description of the product with multiple close-up photographs for closer inspection. All mouthpieces sold on the website have undergone a screening process to ensure that they play well.

An additional component to the site is an active blog with daily entries, many of which center around mouthpieces. Here, you can find useful information on mouthpiece resurfacing, blanks, how to select a mouthpiece, and even a link to a comprehensive article written by Clark Fobes comparing molded mouthpieces to rod rubber mouthpieces.

This winter, Zey offered a clarinet mouthpiece grant to students age 16-25 in need of a new mouthpiece. The grant application required applicants to submit a YouTube video of their playing, along with a recommendation letter and personal statement regarding their goals as a clarinetist. The winner chooses from a handful a mouthpieces shipped to them, or in the event no mouthpiece is selected, they are awarded a cash prize of $125. We hope to see more innovative grant programs like this in the future from!

Robert Marcellus Master Class Files

*** Since the March 2014 Clarinet Cache column has gone to print, we have received notification that some of the information taken from the web regarding this project and the performers involved are incorrect. We thank Steve Cohen, associate professor of clarinet at Northwestern, for bringing this to our attention and for giving us with background information on the project.***

As we posted in an October 2013 Clarinet Cache blog entry, access to hundreds of hours of master classes taught by legendary clarinetist Robert Marcellus is now open to the public through the Northwestern University's Audio + Video Repository which is powered by Avalon Media System, found at Formerly Variations on Video, Avalon Media System is an open source project that Northwestern, in partnership with Indiana University and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, is developing to manage large university collections of digital audio and video files. The system is slated to be in production as early as Spring 2014.

Sixty-four different recordings of his master classes from 1977 to 1990 are now cataloged on this website. In these master classes, Marcellus coaches various students on fundamentals such as phrasing, air support, and voicing, and imparts his pedagogical wisdom in discussion of repertoire and sequencing of study materials. These newly released archived recordings allow modern-day students and teachers to continue learning from one of the greatest and most influential clarinet teachers of all time.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Website Watch (December 2013 column)
Greeting viewers with the beautiful and languid sounds of Harold Wright performing Richard Strauss’s Duet-Concertino for clarinet and bassoon, the homepage of has much to offer clarinet enthusiasts. Webmaster Russell Harlow has done an excellent job in providing a unique platform that allows viewers to listen to and compare various national styles of clarinet playing. The abundance of rare photos and excerpts of audio files of distinguished clarinetists from around the globe make this website an invaluable resource.

Tracing the lineage of clarinet teaching originating with European-American players such as Daniel Bonade, Gustave Langenus, and Simeon Bellison, Harlow conveniently categorized musicians by their nationality, including a set of links for easy comparison of the national styles of sound associated with Austria, France, England, and America.

Over fifteen countries are represented on the website, each with numerous listings of clarinetists including biographies, photos, and audio samples. Many of the sound files are of symphonic solos or exposed sections of chamber music, and many of the recordings span across several decades, giving listeners the opportunity to hear the evolution of the clarinetist’s sound and style. A handful of entries also include famous pupils of teachers.  

One notable entry is on Gustav Langenus. His biography highlights his innovative approach to teaching as he may have been one of the first clarinet teachers to help students via long-distance learning. Langenus would record himself playing his own etudes and studies on 78 rpm records and mail them to students lacking access to a local clarinet teacher. The student would then listen to the recordings, fill out the accompanying questionnaire to document their progress, and return it to Langenus, who would then respond accordingly. On these archived recordings, you can hear Langenus’s voice as he calls out the etude number and plays the musical line.*  [Edit: the voice is not actually Langenus; see note below]

The “Embouchure and Technique” section features a comical group photograph of the principal woodwind players of the Philadelphia Orchestra whimsically playing their respective instruments, followed by a second snapshot of a similar pose, this time with serious expressions. Daniel Bonade’s expression in the humorous photograph is priceless! In this section Harlow has compiled articles by Ralph McLane and James Collis on playing with a double-lip embouchure. He also includes Tom Ridenour’s three-part video explanation of double-lip embouchure and an audio file of oboist Marcel Tabuteau explaining the art of supporting the air. Anatomical diagrams of the chest, abdominal, and facial muscles further explain the concepts taught by Tabuteau. One interesting component of this section is the application of double-lip techniques by multiple clarinetists in different manners, highlighting the benefits and usefulness of playing double-lip.

An accompanying blog, also run by Harlow, mirrors content found on the main site and can be accessed from the home page. Although the blog contains many broken links or repetitive material borrowed from the main site, there is a handful of photos worth pursuing and also an interesting article on Louis DeSantis. Various clarinet-related merchandise, clothing, and printed music are available for purchase from the Clarinet Store section.

Only few hiccups were encountered when accessing the Clarinet Central website. As noted on the homepage, viewers using PCs or Google Chrome as their Internet browser may experience troubles accessing the toolbar for the audio files. Harlow recommends using Internet Explorer for access to all of the audio files. Hopefully Harlow is working towards fixing these technical issues as this site is a definite must-see for all clarinetists. is a streaming audio and video website for fans and performers of classical music.  All content is user-generated -- anyone can upload tracks, and the online community can leave comments and vote on the quality of each selection. A search for “clarinet” brings up more than 150 recordings by performers as accomplished as Alexander Fiterstein and John Bruce Yeh, along with many lesser-known players.

While visitors to the site can listen to the first three minutes of any selection, the free registration allows users to hear the full versions, create their own playlists, vote on recordings, and maintain an individual artist profile. Artists can upload MP3 files and link YouTube videos to the site, with all their recordings linked back to a profile page with biographical information. Users can also enter their concert information into an online calendar, though feature is somewhat lacking in that you can browse by instrument or performer but not location.

One useful aspect of the site is the ability to create playlists which can be shared and embedded on other websites. Teachers can create playlists for students to listen to, and performers are able to create a playlist of their own performances that can be embedded on their personal website. Better yet, these embedded playlists update automatically when the playlist is updated at

Because users upload the content, recordings range widely in quality of audio, performance quality, and even volume level. Like YouTube and other websites where content is user-generated, the quality and usefulness of the website is directly related to the activity of the users. If many high-quality recordings continue to be uploaded, and clarinetists rate recordings thoughtfully, it could prove to be a much more refined resource for listening to clarinet music than YouTube, where low-quality recordings often have high view counts. But as is, many tracks on are currently unrated, and there is a lack of variety and quantity (there is only one recording of the Mozart concerto, for example).

Despite these issues -- and the fact that the interface could use updating -- it’s a great place to discover new repertoire and performers.  With more participation from performers and listeners, it has the potential to become a valuable resource for clarinetists.

*Note from David Ross:
I did want to make a little correction to what you wrote about Langenus. His “Clarinet Correspondence School” is certainly a fascinating document of a world long gone. I have a complete set of these discs and they make interesting listening. But the voice announcing the etudes is certainly not Langenus. The practice in early (pre-WW1) discs and cylinders was to have a loud-voiced speaker (not the player) announce the pieces to be played, and this is what Langenus did.