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!