Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Blogging live from Kansas City!

For all of you who are here with us in Kansas City, and all who wish to follow along with us here at Clarinet Cache, we bring you live daily reports from ClarinetFest 2008. We can't make it to every event, but we'll give you our take on the conference, and we'd love to hear about your experiences as well.

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!

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