John Cipolla's website aims to help viewers become better musicians with advice and tips on such topics as doubling on woodwind instruments, practicing, and performing. In addition to the articles and lecture presentations available on the website, Cipolla also offers video and audio clips, creating a well-rounded site with multiple formats for learning.
Monday, December 15, 2008
John Cipolla's website aims to help viewers become better musicians with advice and tips on such topics as doubling on woodwind instruments, practicing, and performing. In addition to the articles and lecture presentations available on the website, Cipolla also offers video and audio clips, creating a well-rounded site with multiple formats for learning.
Gingras' "Clarinet Secrets" podcasts are a highlight of the website. Since its publication in 2004 (and 2006 revision), her book Clarinet Secrets: 52 Performance Strategies for the Advanced Clarinetist has gained popularity in written form and on the Internet. Gingras has chosen twenty of these "secrets" and transformed them into podcasts in which she demonstrates techniques put forth in the book. If you are new to podcasts, just think of a podcast as an audio or video file (like a radio or television broadcast) that is recorded and put on the Internet. These files are available to download onto your computer or iPod, allowing you to listen or view at your convenience.
Podcast topics include finger motion, tonguing, extended techniques, and much more. Their potential as teaching tools is readily apparent. Clarinetists can watch videos that address areas of interest, and teachers can discover new approaches for difficult aspects of clarinet playing, such as the "flat chin" or throat flexibility.
Gingras has made these podcasts available as free downloads from the Apple store. The only drawback is that iTunes is required in order to view and download them. Another option is to watch videos as streaming Quicktime files from Gingras' website, although only a few are available in this format and they can be slow to load. If all else fails, the twenty "Clarinet Secrets" videos are also available for purchase on DVD.
Earspasm has the standard sections for a performer website: Lowenstern's upcoming performances, recordings on which he is featured, and his press kit with biography and photos. But the good stuff is in the "Performer Info" section. After clicking on "How Do I...", one is invited to drag and drop topics such as "circular breathe" and "buy a new bass" to view Lowenstern's mini-classes. Stealthily embedded videos provide a visual demonstration of slap-tonguing, and all of the text is downloadable. Teachers may appreciate Lowenstern's methodical approach to bass clarinet voicing (under the "altissimo" topic), including his motto: "There are no squeaks, only wrong voicings."
Lowenstern describes himself as "an unashamed gear-hound," which becomes abundantly clear when exploring the "gear" section of the site. When Lowenstern talks about his "rig," he's not referring to his instrument; there is a photo of him playing onstage, and viewers can mouse over pieces of equipment for a description and picture -- from the wireless microphones on his bass to the LCD display he uses instead of a music stand. There is also a great discussion of equipment needed to perform pieces for clarinet and tape/CD as well as clarinet with interactive electronics. As for more conventional equipment, he highly recommends the Backun bass clarinet bell with a neat video demonstration.
Under "charts," there is an interactive altissimo fingering chart that can also be downloaded and printed. The chart has only one fingering per note, but makes up for it with the range covered -- up to a double high F! Other goodies include the download section with free mp3s (both streaming and downloadable) and pdfs of sheet music. For reference, Lowenstern includes his repertoire list, and has also begun an online composition database of works for bass clarinet and tape/CD/electronics.
All of this great content is assembled into an innovative Flash site that is a pleasure to explore. The site is highly interactive; you can not only grab windows and watch them bounce around, but also adjust the "viscosity" and "elasticity" to your liking. Don't like the default color? Choose from seven others to find the most pleasing hue. Some sheet music examples even zoom in as you grab them, iPhone-style.
The site will undoubtedly change as Lowenstern updates it and adds new content, but it is probably safe to say that Earspasm will remain on bass clarinetist's bookmark lists for years to come.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
For those of you interested in auditioning, check the YouTube Symphony website for official rules and deadlines of the application process. Finalists will be selected by a panel of judges in the first round and YouTube viewers will be able to cast their vote for their favorite musicians starting February 14th-22nd, 2009. Each instrumentalist must submit a video recording of their musical part of Dun's work (music available in PDF format) and a second video of orchestral excerpts. The required works for clarinetists include: Dun's Internet Symphony, Mozart's Clarinet Concerto (mvmt.2), Mendelssohn's Scherzo, and Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. In order to help viewers with Dun's piece and the audition process, YouTube offers master class videos for all of the orchestral instruments. London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) clarinetist Chi-Yu Mo gives his advice in the clarinet master class and LSO musician John Stenhouse offers instruction for bass clarinetists. The deadline for applications is January 28th, 2009.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
For those curious about facts and salary figures of orchestral musicians, the website orchestrafacts.org contains information regarding salaries of 52 major American orchestras. The 52 orchestras surveyed currently employ about 4,200 full-time musicians. This website has compiled facts and statistics on wages, orchestra revenues, expenses, and budgets. Having trouble understanding economics of orchestras? Listings of additional readings cover the economic structures and issues faced by orchestras. Check out an interesting comparative chart on historical information of salary growth from 1952-2000 under the side-bar listing of "Facts About Orchestral Salaries." It gives a nice overview of salary figures across the nation. Since the data given is outdated by at least 8 years, it would be interesting to know the current and predicted wage trends under today's economic situation.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
On Barrios' personal website (in both English and Spanish) viewers can find his biography, repertoire list, contact information, and his current performance schedules. Listen to more of his superb playing on the video and audio clips of solo and chamber works posted in the "Download" section of his homepage.
Friday, October 17, 2008
This page from the website of Terje Lerstad is a great resource for anyone dealing with these issues. Lerstad has posted an article he and Thomas Aber wrote for The Clarinet entitled "Altissimo Register Fingerings for the Bass Clarinet," as well as an article by Lerstad about altissimo fingerings for contrabass and contra-alto clarinet. Both of these articles are accompanied by fingering charts.
One issue that the articles explain well is the difference between the double and single register vent systems, and their effect on altissimo fingerings for the low clarinets. Because student horns often have only a single register vent, certain categories of fingerings will not work as well for them. Other fingerings work great for single-vent horns, but not double. The charts differentiate these by adding an "S" under fingerings that work for double-vent horns (most Selmer and Buffet basses) and an "L" under those that work for single-vent horns (older Leblancs and others). These articles and fingering charts would be worthwhile for any bass clarinet player or teacher to explore.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Clarinet Cache: What inspired you to begin the Clarinet Jobs group?
James Zimmermann: Last spring, there was a stretch of auditions - Memphis, Minnesota, Pacific, Detroit, and Kansas City were all holding auditions, basically one weekend after another. The first one (Memphis) was on May 14th, and I created the group a few days before I left for the audition. At USC, Yehuda always encouraged post-audition discussions in his master classes. Whether it was for summer festivals or jobs, we would always return and report. As an undergrad, it was tremendously helpful for me to hear what the graduate students had to say about their experiences auditioning for real jobs. So, with the auditions coming up, I decided to make a group so all my friends and I could talk about our results.
CC: Why did you decide to use Facebook as the platform?
JZ: I decided to use Facebook purely because it was so easy. I made the group, wrote the description of the group, put up the clipart for the group's picture, and invited my fifty or so clarinet friends that I am friends with on Facebook in a span of about five minutes.
CC: You have documented some interesting audition experiences on the Clarinet Jobs discussion board, including your winning audition for the Pacific Symphony and an audition for the Boston Symphony in which your final round was interrupted by a fire alarm. What are your current career plans? Are you still auditioning for jobs?
JZ: My only career plan is to try to become a better musician. Like most young professionals, I am always looking to move up in the industry and make more money, but that's not my main motivation - if a person thinks solely of becoming a better musician, better jobs will hopefully be a natural side-effect. So yes, I have taken some auditions.
CC: On the Clarinet Jobs discussion board, there has been some debate about the fairness of the orchestral audition process. In your experience, have you been treated fairly in the auditions you have taken?
JZ: Well, I have taken about a dozen auditions, and I've sometimes been treated like royalty, other times like an animal. Generally, the better the orchestra, the better the audition. With the exception of the fire alarm, the Boston Symphony was the most perfectly run audition I've ever participated in. The Minnesota Orchestra also held what was essentially a flawless audition last May for their bass clarinet position. All that anyone can ask in an audition situation is for the playing field to be level.
CC: Clarinet Jobs seems to be equal parts support-group, classified listing, and geeky message board. Have you been surprised by the way members have made use of the discussion board?
JZ: I don't know if I'm surprised by it, and I'm definitely not bothered by it. The main function of the group is contained in the name - it's about Clarinet Jobs. What jobs are out there, when are the auditions, and who won. I am thrilled when people share their experiences (particularly winners) -- I wish there was more of that going on. However, the other stuff is great too. For example, a couple months ago I needed an E-flat case, so I posted on the wall, and somebody got back to me and two days later I drove to his parents' house, which was ten minutes away from where I live, and picked it up. Clarinet Jobs is a great place for people to advertise instruments that are for sale, or to recruit young players for summer festivals.
CC: How do you feel about members using the group for advertising?
JZ: Usually I'm fine with it. Like I said, I personally have benefited from it. I'm not a big fan of plugs for other Facebook groups, but I just let it get buried deep in a thread or way down on the wall. Occasionally I get people joining the group and spamming the wall with advertisements. Those people get removed from the group and all their posts get deleted.
CC: A recent wall post read, "1,000 members of this group and, what, 10 jobs? Bon voyage." What is your reaction to this perspective? Do you view the current orchestral/band audition scene to be overcrowded?
JZ: Not at all. This is why you tend to see the same handful of people in the finals for most jobs. I have never seen more than about 100 people at an audition, and that average number has dwindled over the years. Also, at many of the auditions I've been to, there are a lot of people doing it "just for the experience," so that dilutes the applicant pool a little bit.
CC: You seem to have a lot of unnamed "informants." Where do your get your information about upcoming auditions and the coming and going of people in orchestral and band positions?
JZ: I get my information from the same place everybody else does: the union. They publicize audition ads in the International Musician and the website. I occasionally look on http://www.musicalchairs.info/ as well. Lately, with the success of Clarinet Jobs, if there is a job open, someone will usually contact me and ask for my help in publicizing it. This happened with the openings in the Vancouver and New Mexico Symphony Orchestras -- I was in touch with both Jenny Jonquil and James Shields a few weeks before those auditions were advertised, and they helped me get the info out sooner. Those two, who are both principal players, want to get the info out as soon as they can, to attract a larger applicant pool and thereby find the very best candidate. That should be the goal of any audition, though sometimes as a candidate it does not feel that way at all. As far as my informants about other more controversial topics, I can't reveal those sources. I am contacted by tons of people now with great, juicy inside information, but most of that never goes public.
CC: Many readers enjoy staying informed through the inside gossip and rumors posted in discussion groups. Have you experienced any backlash to the nature of some of the discussions?
JZ: Yes, there was a heated discussion on the wall in February, right after the Cleveland Orchestra's second clarinet audition. That was about the same time that Ricardo Morales was offered the job by the Chicago Symphony and people started tossing around salary figures and stuff like that. People then started to raise questions about whether non-winners of auditions should have their names posted on the Internet, or if we should be discussing people's salaries. Mostly, I try to be the voice of reason in the group. I try to just deliver the facts, and occasionally I'll express my opinion. Mostly though, I just try to stay out of it.
CC: In your opinion, are social networking sites such as Facebook fundamentally changing the often-secretive community of job-seeking clarinetists?
JZ: Facebook has definitely changed the landscape of how people socialize. As far as the community being secretive, that's just not how I am. Being a performing musician is about the most unsecretive profession you can have. You're on stage in front of hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people, pouring your soul into what you're doing -- what's secretive about that? However, I know a lot of people who read everything that's posted to Clarinet Jobs, but they won't join the group because they don't want any evidence that they're affiliated with it. So, I guess I don't think that type of approach will ever change, I just think that groups like Clarinet Jobs will make all the information much more accessible to whoever wants it.
CC: What has led to your continued interest in administering the group?
JZ: Well, lots of things. For the most part, the clarinet community is a fraternity - we're all in this together, and the more people who share what they know, the better we all get. This goes back to what I was saying before, about how everyone's goal should be to reach their full potential as musicians. I think keeping the group up to date and creating a channel for information helps everyone gain the knowledge they will need to accomplish these goals. Secondly, it makes me happy to know that people are benefiting from the group. At two different auditions in the past year, total strangers have thanked me for making Clarinet Jobs, saying that they were able to pick up an obscure excerpt or something of that nature because they posted on the wall about it. It's gratifying to know that my little group has helped others navigate the audition landscape. It's my baby, and I am proud of what it's done for us all.
[note: Since this article went to press in The Clarinet, James has won the position of principal clarinet with the Nashville Symphony.]
Frustrated by the lack of articles, interviews, and other clarinet information written in Spanish, Marco Antonio Mazzini in 1996 began a mailing list for Spanish-speaking clarinetists. This mailing list has since evolved into the popular website Clariperu.org, developed by Mazzini as an alternative to the multitude of Internet sources in English. Although its domain name reflects Mazzini's native country of Peru, the website covers a broad range of topics of interest to clarinetists in Latin America, Spain, and around the world.
Clariperu provides exclusive interviews with performers such as Sabine Meyer, Martin Fröst, Luis Rossi, and Guy Deplus, in addition to an extensive collection of articles, scores, audio and video files, and biographies. The main page highlights news of current events, interviews, writings, and awards granted, with a video del día featuring clarinetists of a wide range of generations and genres.
One section in particular, Figuras de Iberoamérica, showcases young clarinetists of Latin America and Spain, giving readers the chance to read about and hear performances by up-and-coming new talent. Spanish-speaking clarinetists may find the Artículos section to be extremely helpful, as Mazzini has not only written many articles but has translated articles by Pamela Weston and others into Spanish. Clariperu also provides information on international festivals and events and supplies free scores and musical exercises.
For those who don't speak Spanish, the videos alone make this site worth visiting. The video archives include everything from vintage footage of Benny Goodman playing "Why Don't You Do Right?" with singer Peggy Lee, to a performance of Alessandro Carbonare playing Tartini-Jacob's Concertino with clarinet choir accompaniment at the 2006 ClarinetFest. These videos can also be accessed through YouTube, where Clariperu publishes all videos. To make the already fantastic Clariperu site even better, a separate blog component (clariperu.blogspot.com) was added in 2005 to allow for frequent updates and visitor comments. The team of collaborators includes creator Marco Mazzini (Peru), Ivan Martinez (Mexico), Valentina Palma (Venezuela), Dieter (Spain), and Daniel Blech (Argentina). Allowing the expression of many voices from around the world, this section features news, announcements, anecdotes, "links of the day," and personal observations, all of which pertain to the clarinet.
Although some knowledge of the Spanish language is necessary, readers will find at Clariperu a wealth of information gathered and presented in in one complete source. Just have your Spanish dictionary within arm's reach, and have fun.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
One superb site that offers instruction for various instruments is Icanplayit.com, where you can subscribe to short lessons on clarinet, piano, other instruments, and music theory. British clarinetist Emma Johnson gives her thoughts and advice on various topics that apply to all levels of clarinet playing. Each of the 32 mini-courses lasts between 3-5 minutes long and includes demonstrations by Johnson along with diagrams, musical examples, and excerpts illustrated. Emma Johnson's pleasant approach and engaging manner draws in the viewer, whether she is executing a beautiful phrase or explaining how embouchure position affects intonation.
In addition to discussing the fundamentals, Johnson also highlights areas concerning technique and agility, fingerings, breath support, adjusting reeds, and ideas on performance practices. The chosen musical excerpts are from the standard repertory and much attention is given to Schumann's Fantasiestűcke, No.1. Lesson #30 exclusively covers the piece, providing the viewer with a mini-master class on the movement, followed by a heart-felt performance by Emma Johnson in the subsequent lesson.
Although a subscription must be purchased in order to view all thirty-two lessons, Icanplayit allows viewers the chance to watch five mini lessons free of charge.
Friday, August 8, 2008
While information on the web about Mate Bekavac is scarce, a short bio mentions his studies with Bela Kovacs at the University of Graz and with Charles Neidich at Juilliard. Also, check out this thread at the Clarinet BBoard about Bekavac's video, including discussion about embouchure technique for extreme altissimo.
And if the Carmen Fantasy left you wanting more, perhaps this video will serve as an encore - it's Bekavac performing Guisganderie (by Faustin and Maurice Jeanjean) accompanied by what appears to be a student clarinet quartet.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
In case you don't make it over there, we'll give you a shortcut to a video of Gary Gray performing Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue with the Grammy Award Orchestra last February. Also check out Gray's website - it includes several articles and information on his teaching methods.
Monday, July 14, 2008
As a side note to Nasby's web site, the "Misc" link contains general information on the clarinet family, concert band instrumentation, and numerous musical jokes (some good and some bad!).
Sunday, July 6, 2008
We already knew that the 2009 festival would be in Porto, Portugal; in Kansas City we found out that the 2010 ClarinetFest will be held in Austin, Texas. So, as ClarinetFest 2008 came to an end, we decided to take a look to the future by talking with Richard MacDowell, professor of clarinet at the University of Texas at Austin.
Looking even farther to the future, we also learned in Kansas City that ClarinetFest 2011 will be hosted by Julia Heinen at California State University in Northridge, CA (in Los Angeles's San Fernando Valley). Jane Carl set the bar high with her fantastic job of organizing the festival in Kansas City, and we look forward to the many ClarinetFests yet to come!
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Next we were off to the ICA business meeting, where we were invited to formally introduce the Clarinet Cache column and blog to the board and members in attendance. At the meeting, we had the pleasure of hearing from Antonio Saiote about ClarinetFest 2009, which he will host in Porto, Portugal. Also discussed were the recent election results of ICA officers for the upcoming year, and much thanks were given to Jane Carl for her work organizing the festival, and to the current officers for their contributions to the organization.
The afternoon concert of recent works for clarinet, clocking in at over two hours long(!), had an assortment of styles and performers represented. One highlight was Belgian clarinetist Stephan Vermeersch playing v.runchak.b.clari@net (2004), a work by Volodymyr Runchak which depicted the life of an e-mail message. Following Vermeersch was Garry Evans (pictured below), with the Sowerby Sonata and Robert Jager's playful new work Aphorisms. Kathleen Jones ended the recital with a premiere of Divertimento Caribeno 2 by Sonia Morales (sister of Ricardo Morales).
The last concert to be held at the Unity Temple was an evening of jazz with Stephane Chausse and Paquito D'Rivera. The mellow, delicate playing of Chausse was sometimes obscured by the drums, but this was probably due the church acoustics rather than any fault of the performers.
Chausse's very satisfying performance could have only been topped by Paquito D'Rivera himself. Indeed, upon taking the stage, D'Rivera remarked, "I told him don't play so good... now I have to work double!" After a few tunes with the talented rhythm section, the audience was treated to a surprise when Chausse and Larry Combs took the stage with D'Rivera.
Combs, Chausse, and D'Rivera performed an incredible rendition of Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night in Tunisia." We thoroughly enjoyed the concert, and so did the rest of the audience - they demanded an encore performance from the three clarinetists as well as a second encore from D'Rivera. Overall, it was a fantastic event to end the series of evening concerts.
One of the best parts of the shuttle bus ride is passing by the Nelson museum, where one experiences a warped sense of dimension when viewing these giant badminton birdie sculptures. ....But where's the raquet?
Friday morning began with a potpourri recital highlighting local talent in the Kansas and Missouri area. Both new and standard pieces were presented in a variety of ensemble instrumentation. One definite crowd pleaser was a performance by Allison Storochuk of Scott McAllister's piece, X3, arranged for clarinet, violin, and piano. Cheryl Melfi's excellent performance of Chen Yi's Chinese Ancient Dances brought an exotic element to the recital, with its pitch bends and microtones. Due to the overlapping of concert schedules, we weren't able to attend the clarinet music from Brazil, but other festival participants gave it great reviews.
Warming up the subsequent audience in the Spencer Theater, the clarinet duets of Jonathan Cohler and Howard Klug alternated with Robert Spring and Jana Starling. Klug and Cohler began with a premiere of Simon Sargon's Birds of a Feather..., which the audience seemed to really enjoy. Each piece seemed to be exponentially more virtuosic than the last, building to Spring and Starling's thrilling performances of works by Libby Larsen and Roshanne Etezady.
The night concert on Friday consisted of standard works for clarinet and orchestra, plus a premiere of a Charlie Parker tribute work by Antonio Fraioli. Though each of the performances was stellar, the standout seemed to be Michael Wayne's flawless rendition of the Weber Concertino.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Thursday was jam-packed, a day full of great concerts. Although the event organizers have done a fantastic job of programming this year, we can't make it to everything, so feel free to comment and share your ClarinetFest experiences!
The day began at 9 AM with some electronic clarinet duos: the World Woodwind Duo (Dwight Frizzell and Thomas Aber) and Clarion Synthesis (Gerry Errante and D. Gause). The works on this program each used electronics in slightly different ways, although they were all composed within the past six years. Several works were interactive, keeping Gerry Errante busy with foot pedals, Max/MSP cues, and microphones.
The electronic extravaganza continued later with the session "Making Multimedia Manageable" with Mary Alice Druhan. After a short presentation about the issues of performing on multimedia works (synchronizing your part with fixed electronic accompaniment, programming effects pedals, working with visuals) Druhan gave an excellent performance of three multimedia works. Especially notable was "A Dream Fantasy" (1973) by Merrill Ellis, an electro-acoustic pioneer who left a lasting legacy at our very own University of North Texas. Quite a lot of work went into putting on this piece - the film projections were adapted to VHS, the slides were converted to PowerPoint, and the audio tape was transferred to CD (not to mention the extensive percussion setup). Well worth the effort, this twenty-five-year-old work still holds its own with the multimedia works of today.
The exhibit hall was somewhat of a zoo, with people crowded in narrow aisles - some even continued to test instruments as the fire alarm was going off!
The afternoon featured a concert of new works from Latin America, with Kathleen Jones and the D2 clarinet duet. Jones and several of her colleagues and former students at the Conservatorio de Musica de Puerto Rico played Klarinet 3.2 by Alfonso Fuentes, in which each movement of the duet series was written specifically for her to play with each person. Rounding out the Latin program, Colombian duet D2 played lively rhythms native of their country. Two of the programmed pieces were written by one the clarinetists, Mauricio Murcia.
A few other highlights from the day for us were Paolo Beltramini's performance of the Francaix Tema con Variazioni, and Evan Ziporyn on bass clarinet performing David Lang's Press Release.
The evening concert of all-star clarinet ensembles was a real treat. Francois Houle performed his own clarinet quintet Of Spheres Unbound, along with Bonnie Campbell, Roger Cole, Eric Mandat, and Evan Ziporyn. The five were placed in different locations on the stage and balcony for a compelling antiphonal effect. Ziporyn (who had a very busy day!) also performed in his own clarinet quartet Hive, a very well-received piece involving a great deal of trilling used to somewhat minimalist effect.
The Chicago Clarinet Trio of Wagner Campos, Larry Combs, and Julie DeRoche closed out the program with works by Bermudez and Combs himself. The concert finished much earlier than Wednesday night so that everyone could get to the "post-concert entertainment" sooner, according to Combs.
We're looking forward to what today brings, and wish everybody a happy Fourth!
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
We arrived in the afternoon to begin the round of concerts with the tribute to Fred Ormand. Jane Carl, artistic director and host of the festival, welcomed everyone to the concert and spoke about the accomplished career of Fred Ormand. The opening piece, Ponchielli's Il Convegno, showcased the polished tone and expressive phrasing of Ormand's former students Michael Wayne and Alucia R. Scalzo. This refined sound was characteristic of all the recital performers who were students of Ormand at varying points in his career. David Shifrin, who studied with Ormand at Interlochen at age fifteen, reminisced about performing the Poulenc Sonata "when the ink was still wet" in 1965, two years after its premiere. A display outside the recital hall depicted Fred Ormand's career as clarinetist and teacher, complete with a guest book for attendees to write personal greetings and memories.
We also had a chance to check out world music trio SAFA, which featured Francois Houle on clarinet, with percussion and a Persian stringed instrument. This improvisatory concert included extended techniques such as multiphonics, microtones, and even a song in which Houle played two clarinet simultaneously (pictured below).
A severe thunderstorm moved through Kansas City around dinnertime, but those who still made it to the evening concert were not disappointed! Clarinetes Ad Libitum are a clarinet quartet like you have never heard - the group included a percussionist and performed entirely from memory, often using theatrics and dancing to accentuate the music. They played in a variety of styles, from ragtime to Celtic to Brazilian traditional music. Each piece was so engaging and impressive that it could have been an encore performance!
Although they were a tough act to follow, bass clarinet quartet Edmund Welles (who we recently blogged about here) was up to the task. This group definitely rocks harder than any other clarinet ensemble you've heard. Imagine listening to a piece entitled "Asmodeus: The Destroyer, King of the Demons" in a chapel while lightning flashes through the stained-glass windows. Quite the experience! Quotes from rock tunes and Weber licks could be heard from time to time in the metal-inspired original compositions by Cornelius Boots.
The storm had still not let up after the concert, and unfortunately a shortage of seats on the bus left many huddled under umbrellas and taking cover at the Unity Chapel until nearly 11:00 PM. But overall, it has been a great first day here in Kansas City, and we look forward to seeing what tomorrow brings!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
According to EdmundWelles.com, the quartet "was originally founded on two principles: the bass clarinet can achieve a virtually unlimited range of sounds, and when this same instrumental voice is multiplied, it can be as powerful as a boogie woogie piano, a gospel quartet or a rock band." In addition to transcriptions, the group also performs original compositions by member Cornelius Boots.
Check out the MySpace page for Acid Bass, another bass clarinet quartet that harnesses the power of the bass clarinet to depict the music of rock bands. There, you can listen to their versions of Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" and Spinal Tap's "Big Bottom," along with more traditional repertoire.
Friday, June 20, 2008
--Dr. John Judge, NITCA/UNSW senior research engineer and project leader
"We won the competition because the clarinet is a difficult instrument to play."
--Dr. John Judge
"You have the same problem as human clarinetists do, which is how to stop it squeaking."
--professor Joe Wolfe, School of Physics, UNSW
Don't worry, you're not going to be competing with robots at your next audition just yet. This robot clarinet won a different type of competition--the Artemis orchestral competition, in which contestants must create devices that play real, unmodified musical instruments. Built by a Australian team from the University of New South Wales, the robot will now be used to research the gestures of human clarinetists.
Although an excellent guitar robot created by another team was a close second, the clarinet team won the contest due to the extreme level of difficulty involved with automating the clarinet. You always thought the clarinet was the hardest instrument to play--now we have the evidence!
For a more in-depth look at the robot clarinet and its creators, check out this mini-documentary.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
If you haven't seen this one yet, well, it's about time. Australian instrument maker Linsey Pollak shows off his "carrot clarinet" in this video, with the help of some electronics. Perhaps more technically like a chalumeau, this instrument is made with a carrot, a sax mouthpiece, and a funnel. This isn't the only alternative clarinet Pollak has developed; check out LinseyPollak.com to listen to the watering can clarinet and the clarini, a narrow-bore clarinet made with aluminum, wood, bamboo, and glass.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
(Update: as of February 2017, this site is no longer working. For more information on Rose Sperrazza and her clarinet choir, visit www.chicagoclarinetensemble.org)
Thursday, June 12, 2008
It's impossible not to be captivated by Doreen Ketchens' clarinet playing in these two videos from the heart of New Orleans. Filmed on a street corner in the French Quarter, the videos feature Doreen singing and playing clarinet, accompanied by Lawrence Ketchens on tuba and Dorise Blackmon on guitar, as cars and pedestrians pass by. Far from being a mere street musician, Doreen has recorded fifteen CDs, partnered with Jazz at Lincoln Center, and toured all around the world, including performances for presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., and Clinton. Visit her website, DoreensJazz.com, for more information.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
The first class, Orchestral Clarinet Repertoire Everyone Should Know features Ted Oien (principal clarinet of the Detroit Symphony) working with students on exerpts from Beethoven's Sixth Symphony and the Mendelssohn Scherzo.
Another class, Steps to Winning Your First Orchestral Audition, features Oien and Marlene Pauley (conductor and clarinetist with the St Paul chamber orchestra) in a great discussion about orchestral auditions. Topics include preparation for auditions, the importance of rhythm, and commonly requested orchestral excerpts. The class also includes an interesting discussion about bass clarinet auditions, including the Detroit Symphony audition that led to the hiring of Shannon Orme. For any aspiring orchestral clarinetist, this video provides invaluable advice on being proactive about your career, perseverance, and finding a career path.
BandDirector.com is difficult to navigate and the sound quality is lacking, but you can find more clarinet videos on the "Ensemble Videos" page, including a recital by MSU professor Caroline Hartig and several clarinet choir performances.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Monday, June 2, 2008
When composers look for important voices among the family of wind instruments, they come away, more often than not, with a clarinet. It has many colors. Its acoustical presence makes it a good public speaker. It can sing simply or be complicated on demand. But there is something else: an ambiguous quality, a hint of delicious sourness that says to the listener, “You think I’m playing flat, but I’m not.”
Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
In this performance at Grand Valley State University in 2006, Michael Lowenstern plays his virtuosic arrangement of the Gershwin classic "Summertime." This is probably different than any other version of the tune you've heard, with creative use of extended techniques such as multiphonics and slap tonguing.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
A video of British jazz clarinetist Acker Bilk (b. 1929) performing his "Stranger on the Shore" has already accumulated an incredible 100,000 views. Though probably unfamiliar to many younger clarinetists, Bilk's "Stranger on the Shore" reached number one on the U.S. Billboard charts in 1962 -- the first British single ever to achieve that feat. Used as the theme for a BBC TV drama of the same name, this memorable tune features Bilk's distinctive chalumeau sound and lyrical style. According to his website, Acker Bilk attributes his unique clarinet sound to having "lost two front teeth in a school punch-up, and half a finger in a sledging accident." Bilk continues to perform regularly, bringing his sound to a new generation of listeners.
Amongst a sea of amateur videos of adolescent instrumentalists on YouTube, one particular video of a young clarinetist has caught the attention of many. Video footage of Julian Bliss, on the cusp of his twelfth birthday, captures his agility and virtuosity in an astounding performance of André Messager's Solo de Concours with pianist Ashley Wass. The young British clarinetist wows an audience of over 40,000 during a concert in honor of the Queen at Buckingham Palace on June 1, 2002. Performing from memory, Bliss playfully opens the first theme with a confidence normally associated with the more seasoned player. His charismatic stage presence and technical prowess are apparent throughout the performance. In the years since this performance, Bliss has achieved international acclaim as a soloist while continuing his studies with Sabine Meyer and attending the Royal College of Music in London.
This video presents a 21st-century musical scene where music, virtuosic playing, corporal expression, and computerized technology become one. With all elements beautifully orchestrated, one sees, hears, and experiences the Clarinet Concerto (Peacock Tales) by Swedish composer Anders Hillborg. Adding magic to this intense piece with his playing and nimble body movements, Martin Fröst leaves the viewer in awe.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
Glissando en el clarinete
Mazzini begins his video on glissando technique by encouraging clarinetists to "coquetear con el clarinete" (literally, flirt with the clarinet). As he describes, an important step towards learning the glissando is to begin to play with the sound, experimenting with alternatives to a traditional concert tone. Mazzini then discusses the embouchure technique, finger technique, and practice recommendations for learning the glissando.
Slap tongue en el clarinete
In this video, Mazzini explains the technique of slap-tongue. With ample demonstration and detailed explanation, this instructional video may prove helpful even to those who understand little Spanish.
Respiración circular en el clarinete
In this short video, Mazzini introduces the technique of circular breathing. He demonstrates how a straw and water can be used to begin to practice the technique, and also demonstrates on the instrument.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Saturday, May 3, 2008
In our print column (published quarterly), we investigate topics or specific websites in-depth. At the Clarinet Cache blog, we post electronic versions of these columns, and much more. We hope you'll visit often, comment, and send us your ideas for future posts and columns. Clarinet Cache is authored by Kellie Quijano and Rachel Yoder (http://www.rachelyoderclarinet.com).