Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tchaikovsky Nutcracker Excerpts - David H. Thomas

We'd like to pass on this unique video posted recently by David H. Thomas, taken during a performance of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker.  By placing a camera on the stand, Thomas has captured the feeling of being right there in the pit with the first clarinetist - listening and waiting to play solos, dealing with water in a key, etc.  A realistic glimpse into the life of a pit musician, complete with running commentary from Thomas in the form of captions!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Clarinet Videos: Best of 2010

Here we are again with our second annual YouTube video countdown from the past twelve months. We always look forward to compiling our list at the end of the year and presenting you with our favorites.  Without further ado, here are our top ten clarinet videos from 2010, organized by category.  Hope you enjoy!!

1. Linsey Pollak and "Mr. Curly"

Linsey Pollak is best known in the clarinet world for his much-watched "Carrot Clarinet" video, in which he creates a clarinet by drilling holes in a carrot.  This year, he introduced "Mr. Curly," an instrument created with two meters of garden hose and a clarinet mouthpiece.  This instrument sounds similar to a contrabass clarinet, but with electronic effects and Pollak's signature looping techniques it becomes something quite remarkable.   To top it all off, Pollak also solos on a "clarinet" made from a feather duster!

2. Michael Han Kim - Debussy Première Rhapsodie

Once again South Korean clarinet prodigy Han Kim makes our annual list, this time with a January 2010 performance of Debussy's Première Rhapsodie.  Only 13 years old in this video, Kim has already made a name for himself in the clarinet community by winning several awards and competitions, not to mention the exposure gained through his numerous videos posted on YouTube.  Currently a student at the School of Arts in Singapore on full scholarship, he studying clarinet with professor Marcel Luxen.

Online video can be the perfect way to find out about new, obscure, or rarely performed works for clarinet.  This year, the following three performances of little-known chamber works caught our attention:

3. Mark Kuss- Slave Songs and Spirituals for Clarinet and String Quartet

Garrick Zoeter, professor of clarinet at the Shenandoah Conservatory, gives a soulful performance of the piece during the 2010 Monadnock Music Festival in Peterborough, NH. Capturing the rousing spirit and tenderness of the slave songs and spirituals, Zoeter brings to life a genre of music that is an uncommon find on the classical stage.

4. Bartok- Five Pieces in Bulgarian Rhythm for Piano, arranged by Gergely Kiss.

Played by the Con Fuoco Clarinet Quartet, students of professor Garrick Zoeter at Shenandoah Conservatory, this piece is wonderfully adapted for the ensemble's instrumentation, making it a nice addition to the clarinet quartet repertoire.  The four students demonstrate their fine ensemble skills and execution of the Bulgarian flavor demanded by the work in this video. Check out more videos of various ensembles made up by the members of the Shenandoah Conservatory clarinet choir at

5. Maurice Emmanuel - Sonata for flute, clarinet, and piano

This charming trio from 1907 is performed here by Barbara Prescott on flute, David Irwin on clarinet, and Cory Hall on piano, from a 2009 concert at St. Petersburg College.  If you like the first movement, be sure to check out the other two movements as well!


6. Tom Ridenour - Remembering Kalmen Opperman

In this interesting video, Tom Ridenour reminisces about the teaching of Kalmen Opperman, who passed away in June of 2010 at the age of 93.  Ridenour explains the pedagogical philosophy of Opperman, with references to specific instructional materials, practice strategies, and more.

7. Sean Osborn - Mendelssohn, Scherzo from Midsummer's Night Dream

Posted just last week, this video accompanies a link to an article on Sean Osborn's personal website where his discusses how to approach the technical aspects of the piece.  His detailed instructions are helpful and clear, highlighting the issues that most clarinetist encounter.  Osborn's experience as an orchestral player as well as a teacher are evident in his writings on orchestral excerpts, giving readers a first-hand perspective on how to tackle some of the most commonly asked orchestral audition material.


8.  "How to Make a Clarinet"

Produced by W. Schreiber, this detailed video documents the manufacturing process beginning from wood harvesting to the finished product.  The video is accompanied by an oddly epic soundtrack that contains no clarinet playing!  Despite this fact and the lack of narration or subtitles explaining the video, it is still interesting and offers a close-up view of the manufacturing process.


9. Britain's Got Talent- James Shield, accountant and clarinetist

Not only does James Shields work nine to five as an accountant, but he also moonlights as a clarinetist as seen here on a British talent show.  Due to protection rights the video is not available for us to post here, but if you follow the link below you can watch the audience's and judges' reaction to Shield's performance.  Maybe this contestant will be the next Susan Boyle on clarinet!

10. "Clarinet Jobs" - Xtranormal video

Xtranormal videos were ubiquitous this year, from "The Music Teacher and the Parent" to the new series of Geico commercials.  Xtranormal allows users to create animated video quickly by typing in text, resulting in awkward, stilted dialogue that is often humorous in and of itself.  This video depicts two clarinetists debating issues and problems that arise when audition results are publicly posted on the Internet, as on forums such as the Clarinet Jobs group on Facebook.  (See our 2008 interview with founder James Zimmerman to learn more about Clarinet Jobs.) This video manages to explore the subject of privacy issues faced in the clarinet community in a clever and thought provoking manner.

Have we missed any videos you think deserve top honors of 2010?  Let us know by commenting below or sending us an e-mail.  Happy New Year!