Friday, December 18, 2009

Clarinetists on Twitter (Dec. 2009 column)

Have you "tweeted" lately? For those of you who haven't yet heard of Twitter, it's time to become familiar with the latest social networking craze. Users at post "tweets," short messages of 140 characters or less, that range from personal thoughts to links, news, and self-promotion (similar to Facebook status updates). Once you have a Twitter username, you can choose whose tweets to follow, and read all of their updates in a feed on your homepage. Beginning in 2006 as an obscure phenomenon embraced by technology geeks, Twitter has steadily gained momentum; now it seems everyone has a Twitter account, from the local weatherman to your favorite celebrity.

Some symphony orchestras are using Twitter as a new way to connect with audiences by tweeting about upcoming concerts, or using Twitter to create live program notes during concerts. Even clarinetists have found their niche on Twitter. Some choose to post about musical events and personal projects, others have a mix of personal and professional commentary, and companies use Twitter to promote new products.

We at Clarinet Cache have created an account (@ClarinetCache) and begun to follow the feeds of several clarinetists and companies that serve the clarinet community. In past blog posts we have mentioned David H. Thomas (author of The Buzzing Reed blog) and Kyle Coughlin (creator of the website Clarinet Space), who both tweet regularly about their musical endeavors. Anthony McGill writes about his profession as a chamber and orchestral musician, and Jonathan Cohler has tweeted about the ClarinetFest in Porto and other international festivals. Commercial companies such as Vandoren, Rico, and Légère post about new products, exhibiting at conferences, and even special discount offers for their Twitter followers.

We invite readers to visit to see who we're following, and give recommendations to help us expand our list. Here is who we've found on Twitter so far:

David H. Thomas (@DTclarinet)
Kyle Coughlin (@KyleCoughlin)
Anthony McGill (@mcgillab)
Jonathan Cohler (@cohler)
Rico (@RicoReeds)
Vandoren (@VandorenUSA)
Legere (@LegereReeds)
Clarinet Jobs (@ClarinetJobs)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kalmen Opperman and Richard Stoltzman in a Live Radio Interview

As announced on a "Klarinet List" email thread, a radio interview of Kalmen Opperman and Richard Stoltzman is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, November 25th at 10am (Eastern time) on WKCR-FM. The live streaming interview by Carl Shoonover can be accessed by the radio station's website or can be heard in the New York area on WKCR 89.9 FM. This interview precedes the 90th Birthday Celebration of Kalmen Opperman at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday, December 1st. The tribute concert to the esteemed teacher will be hosted by Stoltzman (former student of Opperman) and feature performances by Adam Ebert, Joel Rubin, Alex Bedenko, Orlando Tognozzi, Paul Neubauer, Fred Sherry, Mika Yoshida, and the Kalmen Opperman Clarinet Choir with Opperman conducting the ensemble.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

iPhone clarinet apps

"Clarinet in Reach" is a new iPhone app developed by John Ferland of Music in Reach along with Anthony McGill. Its features include a fingering chart and trill fingering chart, a dictionary of musical terms, audio files of clarinet etudes, and instructional videos for clarinet. Content will continue to be added as this tool for clarinet students and players is expanded.

Visit the Music in Reach site for more information or to purchase the app (currently on sale for $1.99).

Another iPhone app, "clarinet" by musicofex, boasts the ability to actually turn your phone into a clarinet, similar to the popular Ocarina app by Smule. It includes sampled sounds from the B-flat, A, E-flat, and bass clarinets, as well as the ability to create new sounds by manipulating the wave forms. The app gives you the ability to record your performances and share them online. You can even send the output to your computer using the musicofex MIDI tool, effectively using your iPhone as a MIDI controller. Don't plan on selling your R-13 too soon though; according to the website, "almost every key on the Boehm-system (standard) clarinet is included." Almost? Oh well, we didn't use those trill keys very much anyway.

Visit the music of expression site to learn more and listen to songs others have created with the app ($1).

We'd love to hear comments from anyone who has tried these apps - let us know how they work!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Clarinet Commission Collective

The Clarinet Commission Collective is a new project founded by clarinetist Jeremy Eig that aims to "help individual clarinetists pool their resources to commission works from major composers." With an artistic advisory board including Larry Combs, Richard Hawkins, Alan R. Kay, Anthony McGill, and David Shifrin, this project is bound to result in high-quality new works for clarinet. The first commission, from composer Paul Schoenfield, is already in the works.

There are many ways to participate in this project: a $50 donation will get your name printed in the score, and $250 earns you the right to present your local premiere of the piece. The Clarinet Commission Collective (or Clarinet Co Co) encourages group donations, so this could be a great project for a university clarinet studio. Kudos to Jeremy Eig for this great idea, and we look forward to seeing the results of this project!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Kari Kriikku

Check out this blog posting by Alex Ross (a music critic for The New Yorker) which features clarinetist Kari Kriikku's playing on two sample tracks filled with a cacophony of city-like noises from the 1985 composition Kraft by Magnus Lindberg. Kriikku is a native of Finland and has studied with Alan Hacker, Leon Russianoff, and Charles Neidich. A supporter of contemporary music, Kriikku is a member of the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra and the Toimii ensemble (founded by Lindberg in 1980). If you are interested in hearing more of his playing, take a look at this YouTube video of his performance of klezmer, Arabic, and Portugese medleys with the Tapiola Sinfonietta.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Free Clarinet Sheet Music Online (September 2009 column)

The International Music Score Library Project, or IMSLP, is one of the best sheet music resources on the web. Created in February of 2006, IMSLP is an online classical music library for solo, chamber music and orchestral works. IMSLP is a wiki, which means that it relies on the collective efforts of users who create and edit content. Anyone can edit pages or contribute scans of music, although IMSLP has many dedicated administrators who create guidelines for the site and review submissions for copyright infringement. The IMSLP is based in Canada, so all music available on the site is either public domain in Canada or has been submitted by a composer or arranger under a Creative Commons license. For more information about copyright law in Canada, the U.S., and other countries, visit IMSLP's public domain info page.

To find clarinet works on IMSLP, the best place to start is with the List of Compositions Featuring the Clarinet. Clarinet works are listed by genre, with about 50 solo works and 125 chamber works. The "Clarinet and Piano" works include sonatas by Brahms, Reger, and Saint-Saens, as well as the Debussy Première Rhapsodie, the Gade Fantasiestücke, and the Schumann Three Romances. The list has concertos by Mozart, Weber, and Spohr, with some double concertos. Unfortunately, the solo clarinet section contains only a handful of pieces (perhaps because much of this literature is still under copyright). The chamber section is lengthy and includes 12 of the Reicha woodwind quintets, the clarinet quintets of Mozart and Brahms, and many other works, listed by instrumentation.

Orchestral works are well-represented in the IMSLP, making it a valuable resource for orchestral musicians and those learning excerpts. Not only are scores available for score study, but many clarinet parts are available for download in their entirety, such as those for all of the Beethoven symphonies, Borodin's Polovetsian Dances, and Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol and Scheherazade (with parts in A and transposed to B-flat). Of course, many later works such as those by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky are still under copyright, so if you're looking for twentieth-century orchestral works, the best option is to purchase the part itself or in a collection such as the Orchestral Musician's CD-ROM Library. For help finding orchestral parts on IMSLP, see the List of Orchestra or Band Pieces with Parts Available.

Each IMSLP entry contains one or more music files in PDF format. The entry for the Mozart Concerto includes scans of the full score and orchestral parts, the score for an arrangement for clarinet and string quartet by Oliver Seely, and the piano score for the Schletterer arrangement of the concerto for viola published in 1860. Entries also contain information about the opus number, composition date, publication date, movements, and instrumentation of the work. Depending on the work, much of this information is still incomplete, but will likely be filled in as more people contribute to IMSLP by editing these entries.

The quality of the files on IMSLP is hit-or-miss; some are poor scans, some are missing pages, and some of the solo parts are not the same edition or arrangement as the scores. Also, a few of the files have been typeset in Finale or other music notation software. In some cases, this makes them more readable than the originals, but there are obvious drawbacks; the accuracy of articulations, expressive marks, and even the notes may be in question. While the quality and availability of scores and parts vary, there are some great finds waiting to be discovered. For example, the page for the Brahms Sonatas Op. 120 includes a high-quality scan of the 1895 Simrock edition - the first published edition of the work - complete with score, clarinet parts, and the viola and violin transcriptions.

IMSLP ran into legal trouble in 2007, when the site was shut down in response to a cease-and-desist letter from Universal Edition. All music was removed from the site between October 2007 and June 2008, while IMSLP worked out the legal complexities of copyright law in various countries, and sought financial and legal support. Now, works such as the Berg Vier Stücke, with a copyright just outside of the 70-year limit in some countries, are treated delicately on IMSLP. These types of works often have a disclaimer stating that while the work is considered public domain in Canada, the European Union, and elsewhere, it is likely not public domain in the U.S. Much work goes into research and forum discussions about copyright to avoid violations; in the case of the Berg Vier Stücke, an IMSLP forum discussion cites evidence that the Vier Stücke were first self-published by Berg in 1920 and published by Universal Edition in 1924 with only minor error corrections, making them technically legal for download in the U.S.

IMSLP is still growing and has much room for improvement. For example, a user has created a page with a "List of Compositions with Orchestral Cello Parts," but no such page exists yet for clarinet, leaving us to sift through individual pieces. The Rose etudes are clearly public domain, but as this article went to press, only one scan of the 40 etudes had been uploaded, and this with several etudes missing and out of order. But as we have seen with the rise of Wikipedia, the nature of a wiki is that the more people use and contribute to the site, the more accurate and complete the wiki becomes. Even simply rating the quality of the scans you access can be a helpful contribution. With the participation of users who upload scans, research copyright information, and contribute to the wiki in other ways, IMSLP could soon become the most valuable online music resource for musicologists and performers alike.

Other Sites

While many web sites offer a general collection of sheet music, the web site of The Clarinet Institute of Los Angeles is specifically tailored for the clarinetist. Managed by David Schorr, this website not only contains archives of sheet music, but also has numerous videos, MIDI files, and recordings of works ranging from standard to lesser-known compositions. Presented in PDF format, all of the sheet music can be downloaded legally due to copyright expiration or because the music has been donated for public use. With over 420 works listed, you can browse through solo works, duets, trios, pieces for clarinet and piano, chamber works, and clarinet ensembles, downloading desired parts and scores at your discretion. You can also purchase a data CD with all of the music files conveniently cataloged and ready to print for only ten dollars. The site has recently widened its instrumental spectrum to include similar discs with sheet music for wind quintet, flute, and oboe. This web site is an excellent resource for anyone looking to add to their musical library.

As mentioned in the March 2009 Clarinet Cache column, the home page of offers a listing of free music and MIDI files. Here, Mark Charette compiled links to notable sites such as "Oliver's (mostly) Clarinet Music Page" run by Oliver Seely. Oliver Seely is a clarinetist and chemistry professor emeritus from California State University at Dominguez Hills who has created Finale versions of many solo and chamber works.

While Seely's collection is extensive, be aware that some of the music files are without articulations or dynamics. If you don't have Finale, head over to Charette's "mirror" of Seely's page, where he has translated the Finale notation into PDF format. also has links to sites with files of manuscripts designated for research purposes and web sites of various composers who have provided their music in PDF files for public use.

Looking for traditional and popular songs? Try perusing the listing of clarinet music at Most of the selections are simple arrangements of popular melodies such as "Amazing Grace" and "The Entertainer" for clarinet with piano accompaniment, appropriate for beginner to intermediate clarinet players. For an upgrade of service and content, the site offers a yearly subscription that authorizes access to hundreds of compositions, allows you to print music without the commercial advertisements and to request separate instrument parts, and also offers free transposition of the parts. This is a good source for teachers looking for pieces with easy piano accompaniment so that they can play along with their students.

The general free sheet music sites that often come up in searches, such as, leave something to be desired. Cluttered with advertisements and difficult to navigate, is not the best place to start when looking for a piece online. In comparison to the aforementioned sites, its content is quantity over quality, with many of the pieces presented in poor Finale notation. However, many composers have contributed new compositions to the site, so it could be a good venue to discover contemporary works and connect with composers.

One last site worth mentioning is Paolo Leva's Clarinet Music and Scores blog. Leva regularly posts sheet music in PDF format with commentary, including original arrangements and some works from other sources.

Searching for online music can be quite frustrating, and we have likely only reached the tip of the iceberg. We hope to have shown you what we have found to be the best and most important sites for free clarinet music. If you think we have missed something, please email us.

We encourage clarinetists to support their favorite publishers, and do not condone the act of copying or downloading music that is still under copyright protection. However, copyright law exists for a reason, and when the copyright expires on a piece of music, it becomes public property. Publishers may not be happy about the fact that the Internet has made it easier for people to obtain copies of public domain music without purchasing it from them, but this does not mean that publishers will be obsolete in the twenty-first century. In the US, publishers still hold copyright on much of the music printed after 1922, and besides, nothing can replace a scholarly edition of a work such as the Mozart Concerto, with a preface, printed on quality paper. Those publishers that understand their role in the digital age will continue to remain relevant and economically viable for many years to come.

Websites discussed in this article:

The Clarinet Institute of Los Angeles

IMSLP's Copyright Information Page

IMSLP's List of Clarinet Works

IMSLP's List of Orchestral Parts

Oliver Seely's (mostly) Clarinet Music Page

Paolo Leva's Blog's Music and MIDI page's Mirror of Oliver Seely's Site

Additional sites we learned about after publication of this column:

EPSA Publishing is a Spanish-language site offering free downloads of primarily Argentinian music. Sheet music can be searched by genre (including a large collection of tangos) and instrument, and many compositions include clarinet. Registration is required to download sheet music, and the user agrees to credit the composer/editor if the music is used for performance.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pamela Weston: Heroine of Clarinettistry

It is with sadness that we note the passing of Pamela Weston, one of the world's foremost researchers and writers on the clarinet. Weston is well-known for her excellent books about clarinetists: Clarinet Virtuosi of the Past (1971), More Clarinet Virtuosi of the Past (1977), Clarinet Virtuosi of Today (1989), Yesterday's Clarinetists: A Sequel (2002), and Heroes and Heroines of Clarinettistry (2008). She wrote numerous articles for journals and magazines, each one beautifully written and a joy to read. Weston combined a talent for writing with a dedication to research, creating a collection of writings about the clarinet and its players which will be valued by the clarinet world for many years to come. She is a true "Heroine of Clarinettistry."

A letter written by Pamela Weston before her death by assisted suicide, and explaining her decision, was published in the UK Times Online and can be found here. A second obituary was run by the Guardian newspaper on Oct. 8th, 2009.

Another article has been posted to the "Action for M.E." website, and there is also a Clarinet BBoard thread going about Pamela Weston. Most of her books can be purchased through Van Cott Information Services, Inc.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Robert Spring plays Eric Mandat's Double Life

Check out this story from Arizona State University's ASU News, all about an upcoming performance of Eric Mandat's Double Life by ASU professor Robert Spring. The piece is dedicated to William O. Smith, and in an homage to his "double life" as a jazz musician and composer of modern classical music, the first movement calls for the unusual effect of playing two clarinets at once. The B-flat clarinet is given jazzy licks and the A clarinet performs "serious" material with multiphonics. The second movement is written for a clarinet with PVC pipe extension, allowing three new low notes to be played with the legs. In the ASU article, Spring discusses the challenges of practicing this unusual piece.

Below is a video which was included with the ASU article, featuring Robert Spring performing the first two movements of Double Life.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

2009 ICA High School Solo Competition (by Marguerite Levin)

(winners of the ICA High School Solo Competition)

2009 ICA High School Solo Competition

Marguerite Levin, Coordinator

The Preliminary round of the 2009 ICA High School Solo Competition was held in May of 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. Applications were submitted on compact disc and judges were unaware of contestants’ names or country of residence. Required repertoire was the Hommage a A. Khatschaturian for Solo Clarinet by Béla Kovάcs and the Sonata for Clarinet and Piano by Leonard Bernstein. Judges were Edward Palanker, Baltimore Symphony; Allison Yacoub, Morgan State University; and Kyle Coughlin, Howard Community College. Judges selected 7 finalists to advance to the final round.

The Final round was held on Wednesday, August 12, 2009 in the Coservatório de Mύsica do Porto. Judges were John Scott, University or North Texas; Elizabeth Crawford, Ball State University; and Marie Picard, Quebec Conservatory. The three winners, all from Portugal, were: First prize of $1000, Carlos Ferreira; Second Prize of $750, Sara Araύjo; and Third Prize of $500, Diogo Ferreira. The other four finalists were Samuel Marques of Portugal; Xu Li of China; Joseph Samucha of Hong Kong, and Gustavo Cesar Yescas Nuñez of Mexico.

All performers and teachers are to be commended for the high level of playing heard on the application CDs as well as live in Portugal. The performances were truly remarkable especially when considering that some of the competitors were as young as 14 years old!

This coordinator is thankful for the collegial atmosphere of the judges and of their willingness to serve our profession. Many thanks to all.

(Marguerite Levin, coordinator of the HS Competition)

ClarinetFest in Porto (by Michael Webster)

I had the unexpected pleasure of serving as a last minute replacement on the judging panel of the Research Presentation Competition along with Julia Heinen and Mary Kantor. There could not have been more diversity of subject matter:

The Musical World of Aage Oxenvaad by Gregory Barrett
Chalumeau and Soprano: A Look at Antonio Caldara's "I'o t'offesi" by Elizabeth Crawford
Cavallini Years in Brazil: Which one? by Fernando José Silveira
An Analysis of Elliot Carter's "Gra" by Kenneth Long
A Quantitative Analysis to Demystify Reed Design by Blake McGee
Anatomy of the Clarinet by Stephen Fox (a finalist who was unable to attend)

In my mind, all of the presenters were prize winners, because I learned a huge amount of new information from each one of them. All of the lectures were well prepared and delivered. But we had to choose winners, so the panel, which was chaired by Jane Ellsworth, selected:

1) Fernando José Silveira
2) Gregory Barrett
Honorable Mention: Blake McGee

Probably because the venue was difficult to find, the audiences were small, but those who attended were very appreciative of the uniformly informative presentations. In future years, I recommend that ClarinetFest attendees try to fit a visit to the Research Presentation Competition into your schedule, because, if this year's competition is any indication, you will be richly rewarded.

Of the events that I attended (and I missed most of the evening events due to extreme fatigue), my favorites were:

Carlos Cordeiro played Stockhausen's Kleine Harlequin, which requires memorizing extremely difficult music, dressing in Commedia del Arte garb, and dancing while playing. The dancing includes notated rhythmic foot stomps, spinning, jumping, standing on tip toe, squatting, kneeling, sitting, marching, standing on one foot and many other moves, all while playing the clarinet. Carlos added some personal touches: tossing and catching his clarinet and an incredible leap from the ground to the stage. For all its virtuosity, the performance was most outstanding in its depiction of the changing moods of the protagonist, eliciting a chorus of bravos and four curtain calls.

Eric Mandat's recital contained his usual blend of clarinet virtuosity and compositional originality, including the world premiere of Four Tempers, assisted by his Southern Illinois colleague, percussionist Ron Coulter, and two of his graduate students, James Applegate and Paul Petrocelly, both playing bass clarinet. Eric played the solo clarinet and bass clarinet part and together the four gave a visceral account of this exciting new work.

This performance was followed by Oyuz Büyükberber playing his own works and improvising on both clarinet and bass clarinet. This Turkish musician has a huge imagination, broad tonal palette, and dazzling technique.

On the whimsical side, Clarinetes ad Libitum, provided intense enjoyment with a combination of fabulous clarinet playing in a variety of folk styles, singing, drumming, dancing and comedy. Accompanied by a percussionist, the four clarinetists all sang and drummed at times, but most importantly played with great virtuosity, and from memory. Particularly outstanding was the Eb clarinetist, but since the names were not on the program, I can't identify him.

Finally, the closing event, Orquestra Invicta All-Stars, brought ClarinetFest to a stirring and joyful conclusion. The group consisted of Antonio Saiote and 29 of his students and former students along with guest artist Justo Sanz. It was astonishing to hear arrangements in which every single player was called upon to play devilishly fast passages in perfect coordination with each other. The ensemble had no conductor, but rather was led at various times by motions from Maestro Saiote, who sat in the center, or from other players with leading voices. But my favorite aspect of the performance was the excellent blend and intonation of such a large number of players. It really created a magnificent sound. Mr. Saoite gave a touching closing speech in Portuguese and English, including bringing Guy de Plus to the stage to be honored. Saiote told the story of three masons who were asked what they were doing. The first said, "I'm laying a brick." The second said, "I'm building a wall." The third said, "I'm building a cathedral." Mr. Saiote has built a cathedral of clarinet playing in Portugal and deserves a huge accolade for his achievement.

Finally, a word of thanks to the employees of Casa Da Musica, especially Alvaro Campo, who helped the Webster Trio get oriented our first day there, gave us a tour of the building, and worked tirelessly throughout the week to help keep things running as smoothly as possible.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Clarinet.Ballistix Streaming Concert

First, thanks to John Scott for the frequent updates from Porto! We may still have some posts coming in from others as they make it back home.

For you clarinet night owls out there, we would like to let you know about a project from the Australian National University's music school which includes a streaming clarinet concert tonight, Aug. 15, at midnight CST. (This is technically 12 AM CST/ 1 AM EST on August 16.) The program includes works by Bassi, Beethoven, and several new works, including a Bela Kovacs piece called After You, Mr. Gershwin. The performers are Alan Vivian, clarinet; David Periera, cello; Alan Hicks, piano; and Katherine Day, piano.

What's especially exciting about this project is that it is more than just a concert. The Clarinet.Ballistix blog has program notes, bios, video interviews with the musicians, and interactive features that encourage an online discussion before, during, and after the concert. Anyone can submit questions to the musicians, or write a concert review. It's a neat experiment, and we encourage everyone to participate, even if you can't view the concert live.

The concert is at 3 PM in Australia, so the timing is awkward for those of us in the Americas. But if you would like to watch the streaming concert, go here to find the link. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Porto: Day 3.5 al fine (by John Scott)

The finals of the High School Competition was a real pleasure to hear. Seven finalists were selected representing Portugal, Mexico and China. They played the Khatschaturian/Kovacs Hommage along with the second movement of the Bernstein Sonata. First, second and third place winners were all from Portugal – Carlos Ferreira, Sara Araujo and Diogo Ferreira. The standard of playing was exceptional. Congratulations to all, but especially to those winners who are such great ambassadors of clarinet culture in Portugal.

The concert this evening (Wednesday) was soloists with the Banda de Musica Melres, “the blackbirds.” Weber to McAllister, and much in between represented. All of the soloists were fine players and performers as well. Bob Spring and Eddie Vanoosthuyse introduced an exciting new work for two clarinets and band, Freebird.

I must at this point correct information from an earlier writing. All of the bands here are from Portugal. This is obviously a nation that prides itself on wind and percussion playing. The recent resurgence of interest in community, semi-professional and professional bands in the USA has given me great pleasure. Here the movement never stopped.

Programs have arrived. I can now report that the Cavalleria Rusticana performed by Pascual Martinez was identified as being Op. 86 by one C. delle Giacoma.

This morning the Officers of ICA played a variety of works; Diane Barger , Fantasy Trio, Op. 26 by Muczinski; John Cipolla, Gra by Carter, Keith Koons, Three Pieces by Stravinsky, Gary Whitman, Ballad for Clarinet, Harp and Orchestra (arr. piano) Ewazen and Lee Livengood, Sonata by Poulenc. All of you need to know that the ICA is the hands of fine musicians. How fortunate can we be? I must also take the time to congratulate pianist Melissa Livengood, resident ICA Board of Directors collaborative pianist. Thanks to you for your stellar playing.

It’s about time to finish my writing from ClarinetFest 2009. In a few hours I will heading home and missing the last full day of activities. Yes, there were some glitches in organization, and yes, the clarinet playing and music making has been a joy. Just in the last 24 hours I heard a brilliant 14 year old and spoken with Guy Deplus. The world of the clarinet goes on thanks to all of you who love this strange and beautiful instrument. Thank you Carlos and Antonio for a wonderful week in Porto.

The weather is still beautiful. Warm days, cool night, breeze from the ocean . . .

Can weather be bottled? No, but memories can.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Porto: Day 2.5 to 3.5 (August 11-12) (by John Scott)

Porto: Day 2.5 to 3.5 (August 11-12)

Let’s begin with a quick update from yesterday afternoon and evening. Belgian clarinetists Eddy Vanoosthuyse and Jun Gunds performed a great recital of music for clarinet, basset horn and piano (my apologies to the unlisted pianist) - Beethoven, Mozart, Bruch and Mendelssohn. All save the Mendelssohn Concertpiece No. 2 substitutions of the clarinet for oboe (the Prometheus Adagio), voice (“non piu di fiori” from Titus) and viola (Romanische Melodie). It all works. Beautiful playing.

Last evening closed with two programs including two bands, Banda Sinfonica da Bairrada and Banda de Musica dos Arcos de Valdevez. The litany of clarinetists included Nathan Williams, Richard McDowell, Henk Soenen, John Masserini, Stephen Vermeersch, The Stark Quartet, Christelle Pochet, Emile Pinel and Phillipe Cuper. It’s a musical who’s who and who will be.

This morning began with a recital by Nicholas Cox and pianist Artur Pereira in works by Devienne, Horne, Debussy, Macmillan, Bennett and Gregson. Cox is such a fine clarinetist and musical stylist. It is exciting to hear someone with panache – and I do mean the sort panache with good taste. For those of you look for a new lyrical and jazz influenced piece, I recommend Richard Rodney Bennett’s Ballad of Shirley Horn (Chester, 2005). Take note: Mr Cox provided his own programs, hence the details.

Part two of the recital was Pascual Martinez Forteza, second clarinetist with the New York Philharmonic along with his wife as pianist (my apologies to her, we are back to no programs). Widor, Yuste, Stockhausen and a set of variations on themes from Cavalleria Rusticana (sorry, an arrangement I did not know). Spectacular clarinet playing – tone, intonation, technique. It just doesn’t get any better at least to these ears.

Reporting on all of the events. Is not possible; too much good music in too many places. The Journal will have a full report soon.

I am off in a few minutes to judge the High School Competition at the Conservatory located a few blocks from here. All reports are that the finalists are stellar -more on that later.

Another beautiful day. Can weather be bottled?

John Scott

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tuesday. Mid-day in Porto (by John Scott)

Tuesday, Mid-day in Porto. Awoke to a view of sailboats on the ocean.

Today at ClarinetFest began with a beautiful performance by the Webster Trio, Leone Buyse (flutist), Michael Webster (clarinetist) and Robert Moeling (pianist). Michael's new transcription of the Debussy Petite Suite is so well written and was very well played. It is to be published soon. Buy a copy. No more to say there. The last work on their program was Birds of Paradise by Robert Sirota. It was commissioned by the Websters in honor of the 20th anniversary of both the founding of the trio and their marriage. It is a wonderfully effective piece, another fine contribution to this repertoire. Elegant playing and impeccable intonation and ensemble.

Trio(Des)concertante with Sergio Neves, clarinetist; Ana Luisa Marques, cellist; and Carisa Marcelino, accordianist concluded the first concert of the day playing works by Paulo Jorge Merreira, Carlos Marques and Carlos Marecos. The combination is really wonderful rich sound. All three of the players were outstanding. The attention to detail and nuance deserves special mention. The music is virtuosic and brilliantly played. These American ears of mine were enriched.

I spent much of the remainder of this afternoon exploring the neighborhood in a search for the Porto Conservatory facilities where the performance competitions are scheduled. The semi-finals of the Young Artist's Competition are complete with no results posted yet. I heard a bit of one of the players performance of the Francaix Theme and Variations. If what I heard is the standard, the judges has a difficult job ahead. The finals are to come as is the High School competition. The standard of playing is still on a steady rise. A model for the world economy.

Only four more concerts to go today.

We still experience problems with the organization of the conference, no program books yet, exhibits are not quite ready and . . . breath deeply and listen to wonderful music.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday: Guest Posting by John Scott

ClarinetFest began with a gathering of all in the Casa da Musica in Porto for registration at 1:00 p.m, and at 3:00 p.m. and at 4:00 and . . . , well you get the idea. Through a series of mishaps, registration did not take place as planned. We are all register beginning tomorrow morning. One never knows what causes these things, but running any sort of conference brings its own set of problems. As Miss Scarlet said "tomorrow is another day."

In spite of all this, what really counts did happen. The opening concert tonight began at 9:30 p.m. The Orquestra do Norte conducted by Antonio Saiote performed with three clarinetists. David Silva performed Weber's Concerto No. 1 Op. 73 in a brilliant manner playing flawlessly - "that's the way it goes" as we would say. Second on the program was a performance by Selmer artist Phillipe Berrod who played Rossini's Introduction, Theme and Variations - brilliant technique is the word of day - a bit too fast for my taste - would that I had the technique to bring it off in such a dazzling manner. The program closed with David Krakauer playing several klezmer solos with all panache one would want - an encore with Krakauer, Berrod and Maestro Saiote closed the evening - soul music!

Yes, I did say conducted by Antonio Saiote. One of Portugal's greatest clarinetists and clarinet teachers is also a fine conductor. Tomorrow when I see him to congratulate the maestro I'll be sure to ask him if he uses a #3.5 or a #4 baton. Bravo Antonio.

The temperature holds in the mid 80's with wonderful cooling in the evening. O blessed day . . . more tomorrow. Registered or not the music will go on.

Guest Posting by John Scott

Greetings from Porto, the beautiful capital of the North or Portugal. For those of you around the clarinet world who are not attending ClarinetFest 2009, I been have asked to provide a bit of information and, perhaps, a few personal asides from this annual gatherings of clarinetists and friends of the clarinet from throughout the world. Thus far I have spoken with clarinetists from Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany, Canada, France, and the United States. More of the world will soon appear as events unfold.

My time in Porto thus far has been dedicated to getting here, getting adjusted to a new time zone and doing some city touring. Porto is located North of Lisbon at the confluence of the Douro River and the Atlantic Ocean, and boasts a population of more than a quarter of a million residents with a metropolitan area of about one million. The city is filled with hills, shops, restaurants, churches, museums, concert halls and as welcoming a population as you will find anywhere. Walking here is not for the “faint of foot.” It’s all easy for half the time. Down is good; up is a challenge. Gravity always wins. Buy a good pair of shoes and learn the Metro or hail a taxi. It’s worth it!

Registration takes place this afternoon and the first event of this conference is scheduled for this evening. The remainder of the week includes concerts, recitals, competitions and lectures related to the clarinet. Often fests focus on some specific topics, style period or genre. This year is no exception with the great tradition of wind bands in Portugal and Spain providing the centerpiece of the week.

I’ll keep you posted. Oh, did I mention that Porto, specifically the Vila Nova de Gaia across the river via the Ponte Dom Luis I designed by G. Eiffel, is where the world’s port wine comes to mature?

The weather here is wonderful, highs in the low 80’s and lows in the 60’s. For those of us from Texas, could this paradise?

John Scott, Monday August 10, 2009

Sunday, August 9, 2009

ClarinetFest 2009 in Porto, Portugal

We are excited to announce our live blogging coverage of ClarinetFest 2009 in Porto, Portugal! While we are unable to attend this year, we have recruited several guest bloggers to submit reports from Porto. Check back to see who, and to read their posts about ClarinetFest 2009! If you are there and wish to submit a guest post of your own, send us an e-mail at Saude!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Metal Clarinets

Come across a metal clarinet lately? Most people have only seen metal clarinets used as a decorative lamp base, probably stowed away in grandma's attic. However, metal clarinets are legit instruments worthy of respect. One web site dedicated to the instrument,, presents a historical overview and useful information on metal clarinets. Here you will find a chronological overview of manufactures (Selmer, Silver King, Buescher, Conn, etc.), brand specifications, current market value, and numerous photos. This site also holds links to related web pages, a vintage metal clarinet forum, classifieds, and instruments for sale.

Not sure what a metal clarinet sounds like? Often favored by jazz musicians, this type of clarinet has a timbre akin to the saxophone. features an audio clip of a metal clarinet being played on the homepage. You can also watch videos of an eccentric clarinet-playing cab driver ( playing metal clarinets via the "Purple Page" link located in side-bar menu. And don't forget to test your own ears in the link to Kyle Coughlin's web page (previously reviewed by Clarinet Cache) where his Metal Clarinet Test compares metal and wood clarinet sound files.

If you are interested in another perspective concerning the history of metal clarinets, check out the article "The Clarinet that Made History" by Eberhard Kraut. This noteworthy article takes a look at the history of metal clarinets sprinkled with anecdotal reflections on George Lewis's use of metal clarinets in forging the sound of jazz in New Orleans.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Dr. Norman Gary: Clarinetist, Bee Wrangler

As if the clarinet wasn't difficult enough already...

A retired professor of entomology at the University of California (Davis Campus), Dr. Norman Gary is also a professional "bee wrangler" who has appeared with his bees on television, including The Tonight Show, Scrubs, The Ghost Whisperer, and various commercials. He also holds a Guinness World Record for holding 109 bees inside his closed mouth for ten seconds! Amazingly, he can still play the clarinet, and plays regularly as a jazz and Dixieland clarinetist in the Sacramento area. Check out his personal website here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Clarinet Article at

This spring, blogger Michael Pellecchia posted a three-part article about the clarinet in jazz, titled "Has the Clarinet Gone the Way of the Banjo?" Pellecchia muses about famous players of the past and present, and how and why the role of the clarinet has changed over the years. One highlight:
But clarinetists have a high tolerance for exasperation, and the challenges they have faced on the licorice stick can refine talents applicable (and better paid) in many areas of high achievement. Yes, I bet the IQ of clarinetists is above average.
We concur. To read the whole article, check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Friday, June 19, 2009

World Clarinet Alliance

The World Clarinet Alliance (WKA) is website dedicated to connecting the clarinet community on a global scale. Created by Mike Getzin in 2000, this site serves as a bulletin board to share, promote, and chronicle clarinet-related news and events. The site is comprised of several pages, but the core of WKA is the home page where current events are announced. Highly infused with photographs, the home page does take a few moments to load, requiring a bit of patience when first opening.

WKA is a great source for information and details on workshops, conferences, and festivals--Getzin has conveniently organized a cumulative listing of all past, present and future events. Check out the "Hot News" section where you can quickly scan current (and older) news and headlines to keep up with events across the world. Other pages on the site direct you to clarinet premieres, music industry links, and clarinet choir news. In remembrance of those who have passed away, the "In Memoriam" section pays tribute to performers, teachers, and composers who will be sorely missed in the clarinet world. For those experiencing problems with accessing pages due to Java problems, Getzin constructed a Website Directory that allows viewers to bypass the technical interference. WKA contains a large amount of content and is frequently updated, so check back often to keep informed!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Clarinet Equipment (June 2009 column)

In this column, we decided to explore resources on the Internet dealing with clarinet equipment. With a seemingly insurmountable number of web sites selling every type of mouthpiece, barrel, and clarinet imaginable, it can be hard to find honest information that will help you to make an informed decision. We have compiled a list of sites that offer more than just a selection of merchandise. Specific web addresses can be found at the end of this column.

Finding the right mouthpiece to match your setup can be quite challenging. The mouthpiece alone greatly affects sound quality and effort needed to produce optimal results. Some of us look for a mouthpiece that lends flexibility while retaining resonance, while another player searches for the one that will let the sound soar over the orchestra. Choosing the right mouthpiece is not a simple process, and several web sites can help you understand which make and model best suit your needs.
Although we do not wish to endorse any particular manufacturer, several expert craftsmen have gone above and beyond by using their websites to share knowledge about mouthpiece acoustics and design. Brad Behn's site discusses mouthpiece nomenclature and selection, the manufacturing process, and the specific qualities which made Chedeville and Kaspar models so highly sought after. Information on Clark Fobes' site includes articles on Frank Kaspar, intonation, and mouthpiece nomenclature. For a comparison of Chedeville-style mouthpieces, visit Terry Sterkel's personal site, and for an extensive list of links to tip opening charts, check out the "Keepers" thread at listed below.

Several sites deal with the selection of a clarinet and its subsequent care and maintenance.'s "Equipment" section, accessible from the homepage, is a great starting point for advice about care and maintenance, with information about cleaning clarinets, oiling the bore, and basic repair. The "How old is my..." section contains lists from a variety of sources that can help to determine the manufacture date and other information about a clarinet using the serial number (particularly useful when buying used instruments). Clicking on "Has anyone heard of..." takes you to an extensive listing of trade names that may be found on clarinets, matching them with their parent companies. "What to buy a Beginner?" is a section devoted to answering that very question, with input from several professional clarinetists.

Several other sites provide information about older clarinets. Nophachai Cholthitchanta, professor of clarinet at the University of Arkansas, is a collector and researcher of 18th and 19th-century clarinets and has a website detailing the contents of his collection. Here, you will also find links to replica period clarinet makers and major clarinet collection museums. Sherman Friedland frequently answers questions on his blog from readers looking for answers about a clarinet they have found. And on the personal pages of Bill Fogle, you can find excellent photos of vintage clarinet advertising artwork and manufacturing marks.

Repair technician Steve Sklar's is a wide-ranging, detailed site that encompasses nearly every subject related to clarinet equipment. The site has pages about serial number identification, mouthpiece specifications, care and maintenance, and much more.

Tom Ridenour is another expert who has contributed articles and videos about clarinet equipment. His articles include "How to Select a New Clarinet" (a fantastic article for first-time buyers), "The Grenadilla Myth" (about the advantages and disadvantages of various woods and hard rubber clarinets), and "You Picked it, You Play it" (about the importance of having the right equipment in combination with the right playing techniques). His YouTube channel features videos about clarinet lubrication, noise reduction, mouthpieces, and standards for testing clarinet equipment. Ridenour's quirky and informative videos are especially relevant for anyone who does work on their own clarinet, or wants to learn repair basics.

This list of equipment resources is just a beginning. If you know of a site that should be included in this list, please e-mail us as we will be continuing to add to this work in progress.

Brad Behn

Nophachai Cholthitchanta's Clarinet Collection

Clark Fobes Articles Page

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Stanley Drucker Retires from NY Philharmonic

This has been the week to recognize the incredible career of Stanley Drucker as he makes his last solo appearance with the New York Philharmonic performing the Copland Concerto. Drucker's accomplishments include being appointed principal clarinetist of the Indianapolis Symphony at the age of 16, two Grammy nominations, the premiere of the Corigliano Concerto, 59 performances of the Copland Concerto with the New York Philharmonic, and being named Musical America’s 1998 Instrumentalist of the Year. He will retire after this season at the age of 80.

In addition to the AP video above, Drucker's retirement has received quite a bit of media coverage, so we'll try to sum it up here:

  • A fantastic June 4 New York Times article discusses the life and accomplishments of Drucker, noting that he has performed with the ensemble for 60 years (longer than any other musician in the history of the ensemble), nearly 50 of them as principal clarinetist.
  • A June 5 NY Times review of the farewell concert mentions that Drucker has set a record for "longest career as a clarinetist," as he has been performing professionally for over 62 years.
  • A fascinating June 2 radio piece on NPR's Morning Edition features clips of Drucker's playing, and thoughts from Drucker, Mark Nuccio, John Corigliano. At over 7 minutes, this is a must listen for clarinetists! The page also includes several audio selections of Drucker performing with the New York Philharmonic: The Copland Concerto in 1989 (selection ends after the cadenza), the Corigliano Concerto (first movement) from 1977, and the Debussy Premiere Rhapsodie from 1961.
  • A May 31 AP article includes comments from interviews with Drucker and Zubin Mehta.
  • A May 26 Wall Street Journal article covers the upcoming concert and Drucker's life and career. Drucker reflects on the various conductors he has worked with, and the early years when the orchestra was all-male and "like a private club backstage," complete with poker and cigars.
  • Stanley Drucker by the Numbers has statistics about Drucker's career.
  • The NY Philharmonic site includes a biography and and interview with Drucker from 2002.
  • Drucker's most popular video on YouTube is a live telecast of Drucker playing the Weber Concertino with the New York Philharmonic in 1989 (and the rather awkward Hugh Downs interview with Drucker afterwards!)
And finally, here is a video of Drucker discussing the Copland Concerto, posted on the New York Philharmonic's YouTube channel.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Happy First Anniversary!

The Clarinet Cache blog is turning one year old this month, and to celebrate, we have created a Flickr photostream (at left) of our favorite clarinet photos! To see more, head over to the Clarinet Cache Flickr group and join if you'd like to submit a photo.

In just one exciting year, we have published four articles in The Clarinet and over 50 blog posts, we "live" blogged ClarinetFest in Kansas City, we've been profiled in Clarinet & Saxophone (quarterly journal of CASS), mentioned on the Clarinet BBoard, and linked up with fellow bloggers at Clariperu, Sherman Friedland's Clarinet Corner, and The Buzzing Reed. All of this while continuing to work on our doctorates at the University of North Texas!

We'd like to thank everyone for reading and encourage you to continue sending us your favorite clarinet links and videos. No two people can keep track of all the clarinet resources out there, so we depend on you to help keep us informed. As always, send any suggestions to us at

Kellie and Rachel

Thursday, May 21, 2009

For those of you interested in message boards, take time to peruse the clarinet forum hosted by Howard Klug on his personal website. Klug, professor of clarinet at Indiana University, offers expert advice and answers questions on topics such as repertoire, reeds, embouchure, motivating students, and teaching clarinet. With his constructive responses, Klug effectively creates open dialogues where professionals and students alike can exchange thoughts and ideas. A good example of this is in the lengthy thread on tension. Klug introduces the topic, explains the visible symptoms of tension and offers solutions on how to combat playing with tension. Others respond with their own experiences and dilemmas, adding to the discussion. Put this forum under your radar, Klug's ideas are definitely worthy of taking a look at.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Kyle Coughlin's Clarinet Space

Kyle Coughlin's Clarinet Space is a new website geared toward younger clarinetists that could be a very useful tool for teachers. This well-designed site includes kid-friendly, interactive fingering charts with sound, and a progressive series of games for learning to read notes on the staff. In a time when kids are surrounded by interactive media of all types, these Flash-based games are a great way to challenge them and hold their attention while teaching them to read pitches quickly.

The site also includes printable PDF versions of scales in many different forms, from five-note scales in the lower register to extended scales over the entire range of the clarinet. Teachers might be interested to look over Coughlin's variety of forms of major, minor, and chromatic scales to find scales to use for their students; these PDFs could be a cheap alternative to requiring students to purchase the Baermann or Kroepsch book just to work on their major scales.

Clarinet Space also includes materials related to Coughlin's book Beginning Jazz Clarinet Studies, reviewed by John Cipolla in the March 2008 issue of The Clarinet. Coughlin, a clarinetist, saxophonist, composer, and jazz musician, earned his Masters and Doctorate degrees from the Peabody Conservatory as a student of Loren Kitt, and is currently on faculty at Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland. For more information about Kyle Coughlin (and a great Flash animation involving the clarinet) check out

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Clarinet Institute of Los Angeles

The Internet functions as a global network of sharing, and no website demonstrates this credo better than The Clarinet Institute of Los Angeles. Here you will find a vast assortment of clarinet videos, recordings, MIDI files, and sheet music all for free! Managed by David Schorr, this L.A. based website serves clarinetists in the vicinity as well as clarinetists across the globe. This nonprofit site welcomes visitors to utilize all of the available media and encourages people to contribute their own submissions.

Tired of searching YouTube for interesting clarinet videos? Try visiting this site's extensive list of videos for standard repertoire and lesser-known pieces. It is easy to locate the piece you've been searching for and you may even discover something new in each of the categories-solo clarinet, clarinet quartets and quintets, choirs, woodwind quintets and more. Now that you have heard the music, you can download the sheet music. With over 420 PDF files available, even the starving musician can add to their library. A CD of the entire collection is also available for only ten dollars. If you wish to practice with piano accompaniment, try using the MIDI files with a karaoke player (also free) that allows you to mute the clarinet part. And last but not least, don't forget to listen to the recordings-they cover a wide range of the clarinet repertoire.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Edward S. Palanker:

In the December 2008 edition of The Clarinet, we reviewed the excellent personal websites of Michèle Gingras, Michael Lowenstern, and John Cipolla. Well, now we have another one to add to the list, as Edward S. Palanker has created a personal website,, that is equally interesting and informative.

Palanker, bass clarinetist with the Baltimore Symphony and (soon to be retiring) professor at the Peabody Conservatory, has written many articles for The Clarinet over the years. He has now made these articles available on his website. Subjects include maintenance (including helpful hints to keep your clarinet working when something suddenly goes wrong), tongue position, fingerings, and intonation (with comments about tuning a middle school clarinet section). Palanker has devoted a section of his site just to reeds, with well thought-out comments on adjusting and breaking in reeds. 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. In general, Palanker's writings emphasize that there is no "one right way" to do things, and encourage the player to experiment with equipment, techniques, and fingerings to determine what works best. However, Palanker does outline his own methods in detail, and he gives reasons for why he dries reeds a certain way, or uses certain fingerings.

Another great feature of is the audio from live performances. On the site, you can listen to Palanker performing the Mendelssohn Concertpiece No. 2 with former student Ricardo Morales, the Bela Kovacs Hommage a Kodaly on bass clarinet, and much more of the standard clarinet repertoire.

We welcome this great addition to clarinet resources on the web, and hope you enjoy

Thursday, March 19, 2009 (March 2009 column)

One of the oldest and most extensive web sites on clarinet, is an indispensable online resource for clarinetists. Although many readers many already be familiar with the site (its copyright extends back to 1995), we hope to highlight some points of interest for newcomers and remind previous viewers of all the great content made accessible by webmaster Mark Charette. The abundance of information on the homepage can be a bit overwhelming to new viewers, but with a concise overview to materials on the page and guidance to its content, we hope the site will be easy to navigate.

The homepage of hosts an inventory of mailing lists and other sites of interest such as: Klarinet List, Clariperu, I.C.A., German Clarinet Association, and Italian mailing list, bass clarinet mailing list, symphony jobs listings, and even a site that explains the British music grading system. Recognized as one of the largest clarinet-related mailing lists or originating from, the "Klarinet List" allows subscribers to keep up with current events in the clarinet world and communicate with one another via e-mail. The Clarinet Bulletin Board provides a similar function, although it is hosted on the web as a message board. The threads at the Clarinet BBoard (as it is known) cover every conceivable topic having to do with the clarinet, and some well-known clarinetists contribute regularly. Other forums available on include one for doublers, ethnic clarinet, all woodwind instruments, and woodwind fingerings. In a separate special forum called "Keepers," you will find new and old threads that are the cream of the crop, covering topics that pertain to all woodwind instruments. A couple of "Keepers" threads noteworthy to clarinetists are a listing of the "Paris Conservatory Pieces: 1836-2005" and Ken Shaw's commentary on performing solos from the third movement in Beethoven's 8th Symphony.

The side-bar menu located on the homepage covers just about every aspect related to the clarinet, although this column will explore only a select few. In addition to the Bulletin Boards, the side-bar menu features announcements or upcoming concerts and programs, along with openings of graduated fellowships, scholarships, and awards at universities. The classified listing directs readers to instruments and items for sale, also including sheet music and accessories for purchase. Under the section "Personal Help," viewers can pose a question to one of many professional and well-respected clarinetists willing to address individual concerns in a private manner.

The next category, "Resources," encompasses a wide range of topics with links to retailers, international music centers, an extensive bibliography, music libraries, societies and periodicals, and a listing of publishers. Interested in finding sheet music available to download for free? Try perusing the "Music & MIDI" section where Charette is currently building a collection of clarinet music that you can print from your own computer. Some of the music is also available for listening in the synthesized MIDI format. Many valuable resources can also be found in the "Research" section. Offering multiple links related to aspects of practicing, this category guides readers to articles on auditions and repertoire standards, fingering charts, indices of method books, and information on bass clarinet repertoire. For those of you looking for other musicians like yourself to play with, visit the "Clarinet Connections" under this category. Here you can browse for information on other clarinetists in your region who are interested in playing or making contact with others.

As stated by Mark Charette, the information on "is intended as an introductory reference to the collective wisdom of the [Klarinet] lists contributors and as a tool to help disseminate clarinet knowledge.", like all collective web sites, is only as good as its contributors. We therefore encourage The Clarinet readers to explore the site if you have not already, and perhaps even try posting on the Clarinet BBoard if you have something to contribute. It might take a few visits to digest all of the first-rate content; and with Mark Charette updating the web site frequently, new information is constantly posted. We hope this overview will give new readers a sense of how to utilize the vast resources available on

Sherman Friedland's Clarinet Corner (March 2009 column)

Sherman Friedland's Clarinet Corner could win an award for being one of the most frequently updated clarinet blogs on the Internet. Since January of 2004, Friedland has posted several times each week on a wide variety of topics. Written in an advice-column format, many posts feature an e-mail from someone inquiring about an instrument they found, a problem with their playing, or any number of other clarinet issues. Friedland's responses display a vast knowledge of clarinet-related topics, as well as a sense of humor that adds a personal touch.

Through his blog posts Friedland also voices his feelings about certain types of equipment, shares stories of his own experiences playing clarinet, or remembers musicians who have passed on (as in his recent post in memory of Mitchell Lurie). The result is a blog that allows readers to learn a great deal about the clarinet, and gradually also get to know Sherman Friedland himself.

For readers unfamiliar with his background, Friedland's biography mentions his studies with Gino Cioffi at Boston University and Rosario Mazzeo at the New England Conservatory; his position as principle clarinet with the Milwaukee Symphony; and his time as Music Department Chair, Associate Dean, and professor at Concordia University in Montreal. Reading through the Clarinet Corner posts, though, one finds fascinating stories that fill in the details of Friedland's career. Friedland mentions acquaintances with Jean Franciax and his daughter Claude, Robert Van Doren, Maurice and Jean Selmer, and even Benny Goodman. He describes not only his experience studying with Nadia Boulanger at the American Conservatory at Fountainbleau in France, but also how a scholarship was provided to him by Prince and Princess Ranier (Grace Kelly) of Monaco!

Friedland is not shy about expressing his opinions, especially when it comes to equipment. He frequently complains about Buffet clarinets, while endorsing others such as the Leblanc Opus and Tom Ridenour's Lyrique hard-rubber clarinets. He is also enthusiastic about Legere reeds, Vandoren mouthpieces, Richard Hawkins' "R" mouthpieces, and the double-lip embouchure (which he describes as "the most natural embouchure" for clarinet). Despite his thorough discussion of equipment, Friedland constantly deemphasizes the importance of any one "setup" in favor of developing a solid tonal concept and individual sound.

Other topics covered in the Clarinet Corner include the teaching methods of Rosario Mazzeo and Gino Cioffi; medical issues such as TMJ, tendinitis, and false teeth; and comments on specific pieces including the Sutermeister Capriccio, the Brahms sonatas, and Stravinsky's Three Pieces. (The blog's search feature is especially useful in sorting through the numerous articles for specific topics.) Friedland even offers career counseling to those who ask for it -- for instance, when one young person wrote in asking what to do if they enjoy both the clarinet and working with animals, Friedland's advice was simple: "Become a veterinarian." It is this mixture of sage advice and humor that makes the blog so successful, despite Friedland's quirky writing style and frequent typos. Blogging as a genre is still quite new, but it has become clear that the best blogs are those that provide great content while also conveying the personality of the author. Sherman Friedland's Clarinet Corner is certainly one of these.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

YouTube Symphony Winners Announced

The winners of the YouTube Symphony competition were recently announced, and the clarinetists are:

Marco Antonio Mazzini (Belgium, Peru)
Ana Catalina Ramirez Castrillo (Costa Rica)
Victor de la Rosa (Spain)
Soo-Young Lee (Korea)

Check out the YouTube Symphony channel to see the winning videos.

We thought our readers might be interested in knowing more about the winners, who will be performing a concert at Carnegie Hall in April, under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.

Many of our readers already know the name of Marco Mazzini because of his website Clariperu and his great Spanish-language videos about extended techniques. He has posted about winning the bass clarinet position in the YouTube Symphony at his personal blog, and there is also a great post (in Spanish) with information about each of the winners at the Clariperu blog. Mazzini is principal clarinetist of the Ostrava International Orchestra (Czech Republic) and is an active performer of contemporary music. He will be representing Belgium, where he currently resides, as well as his native Peru.

Ana Catalina Ramírez Castrillo is from Costa Rica, where she studied with Marvin Araya, principal clarinetist of the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica. She then attended the Longy School of Music where she was a student of Jonathan Cohler, and received a Master's degree from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, as a student of Michael Sussman. She is principal clarinet of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra and teaches clarinet at Belhaven College and Mississippi College. For more information about Ana Catalina Ramirez, check out her iLike profile.

Victor de la Rosa is a Spanish clarinetist. We couldn't find much information about him, but perhaps he will get back to us!

Soo-Young Lee is a 23-year-old Korean clarinetist who recently graduated from Seoul National University. She was a student at the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra Academy under Paul Meyer as well as the Asian Youth Orchestra and Asia Philharmonic Orchestra Academy under director Myung-Hun Chung. Soo-Young Lee currently studies in Austria at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Graz with Stefan Schilling.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Blog: The Buzzing Reed

David H. Thomas, principal clarinet of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, has a fantastic blog called The Buzzing Reed: Confessions of an Orchestral Clarinetist. Some posts focus on his approach to clarinet technique, including double-tonguing, right hand pain, and breathing. Thomas also addresses specific repertoire and has posted video of himself playing the Muczynski Time Pieces, and a Jeanjean etude. Other posts cover the difficulties of performing Beethoven's Symphony No. 8, and the difference between orchestral and solo playing.

One of the best things about The Buzzing Reed is that it gives an inside perspective on the life of a professional orchestral musician. Thomas shows us that even a professional clarinetist is still human, and even while he has been with the orchestra for twenty years, he can still have problems with reeds or become nervous for a concert.

Many of his posts deal with the problems of the Columbus Symphony as it (like many orchestras these days) has struggled to deal with financial problems, turnover of directors, and rocky relations between the board and the orchestra members. Thomas's posts are critical of the organization at times, but they also show his dedication to bringing a high-quality artistic product to his community. The Buzzing Reed gives real insight on what it means to be an orchestral musician in times when a community has to balance economics with art.

Any clarinetist would enjoy and learn from this blog, but for those aspiring to be professional orchestral clarinetists, it's a must-reed. Ahem. Must-read.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Stage: Rico reeds

When the D'Addario company (string manufacturer) acquired Rico in 2004, they set out to change and improve the quality of reeds through new machines and technology. At their main website The Stage, a word search for "clarinet" pulls up over 70 videos and PDF files which cover an assortment of topics ranging from advice on playing the clarinet to reed preservation. The Rico company has many artists who endorse their products and can be seen in these videos. Bass clarinetists, particularly teachers and those new to the instrument, will thoroughly enjoy videos of J. Lawrie Bloom rendering advice on how to play, assemble, and choose reeds for the instrument. Many episodes of "Clarinet Secrets" by Michèle Gingras can also be accessed. For those interested in seeing the new process of reed production within the company, Rico has videos which show the entire process beginning at the cane fields in France to the finished product sold at the music store. This site is full of short and interesting materials that clarinetists of all levels will enjoy.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Synthetic Speed Tonguing article by Clark W Fobes

San Francisco-based mouthpiece maker and performer Clark W Fobes has written a great article, "Synthetic Speed Tonguing," which is posted on his website.

Fobes, like many clarinetists, found that his top speed single-tonguing was not quite fast enough to get him through excerpts like the Mendelssohn "Scherzo," and began looking at double-tonguing as a solution. This article describes his method of using double-tonguing technique combined with single tonguing to increase speed and relaxation of the tongue. With step-by-step instructions for learning the technique, and many musical examples, this is worth reading for anyone who has struggled with their single tonguing speed, or has advanced students dealing with this issue.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Anthony McGill at the Inauguration

Just in case you missed it, here is the performance of the John Williams work "Air and Simple Gifts" by Anthony McGill, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, and Gabriela Montero at the inauguration of Barack Obama.

EDIT: It has come to our attention that this was not a live performance, but was actually pre-recorded. Read the New York Times article about it here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

McGill to perform at Obama's inauguration

Invited to take part in Barack Obama's presidential inauguration on Jan. 20th, clarinetist Anthony McGill will join musicians Yo-Yo Ma (cello), Itzhak Perlman (violin), and Gabriela Montero (piano) to premiere an undisclosed work by American composer John Williams. In this quartet of talented musicians diverse ethic backgrounds are well represented: McGill is a young African-American, Yo-Yo Ma is Chinese-American, Perlman is an Israeli-American, and Montera is Latin American from Venuzela Venezuela. McGill is currently the principal clarinetist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and was recently appointed to the faculty at the Peabody Conservatory this past fall. Also known as a gifted chamber musician, McGill has performed at countless festivals, including Music@Menlo which is featured on a previous post by Clarinet Cache. For a chance to hear McGill's exquisite playing, visit his website at for up-to-date information on news and performances. Don't forget to join millions of Americans in witnessing a spectacular musical celebration during Obama's inauguration on Tuesday, Jan. 20th at 11:30am E.S.T.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Soni Ventorum Woodwind Quintet Archives

The Soni Ventorum Woodind Quintet Archives are a valuable resource for the woodwind quintet clarinetist, containing streaming mp3 files of live performances of nearly 50 works for woodwind quintet. The recordings represent much of the (now) standard quintet repertoire, such as the Reicha, Taffanel, and Francaix Quintets, as well as lesser-known works like Ruth Crawford Seeger's Suite and William O. Smith's Jazz Set for Violin and Wind Quintet. The video archive is much smaller, but includes this performance of the "Andante" movement from Ibert's Trois pièces brèves.

Soni Ventorum was active as a quintet from 1961-2001, and was formed by graduates of the Curtis Institute of Music: Felix Skowronek, flute; Laila Storch, oboe; William McColl, clarinet; Arthur Grossman, bassoon, and David Kappy, horn. Learn more about Soni Ventorum on the History and Artists pages, and explore original newspaper clippings on the Press page.

This site is a great example of how the internet can be used to preserve and document the great ensembles of the past through audio and video. Hopefully we will see more sites like it in the future!