Friday, August 5, 2011

ClarinetFest 2011: Day One

Rachel here, reporting from ClarinetFest 2011 at Cal State Northridge!
Valley Performing Arts Center

Palm trees and orange groves really let you know that you're in California on this beautiful campus!  The weather has been sunny and a bit hot for the long walks between the dorms and the various concert venues, but personally I'm just glad to be avoiding the 110-degree heat back in Texas. 

I spent most of Wednesday preparing for and attending the Research Competition, as I was one of the finalists.  Topics ranged from Denner and Molter to Poulenc and Hindemith, and everyone had put a great deal of work into their presentations.  First prize went to Boja Kragulj (USA/Turkey), who presented about the "rock star" status of the clarinet in Turkey, and her studies with Serkan Cagri there.  David Kirby (U.K.) took second prize with his presentation about the Poulenc Sonata and the sixteen (!) editions published by Chester since its composition in 1962.  The panel of judges included Mary Kantor, Douglas Monroe, and Albert Rice, who is known to the clarinet world for his excellent books on the clarinet in the Baroque and Classical periods.  After each presentation, questions from the judge and the audience were taken, providing an opportunity for a dialogue in the room about each topic.

Heicke Fricke presenting about the "J.C. Denner" clarinet in the U.C. Berkeley collection
 The Wednesday evening concert featured rare U.S. performances by two of India's greatest clarinetists performing in the Indian classical music style.  In the first half, clarinetist A.K.C. Natarajan played music of South India along with a violinist and mridangam (percussion).  Next, Narasimhalu Vadavat played music of North India with violin and tabla.  All the musicians performed seated, cross-legged, on stage.  The amplified clarinet was very loud, especially in the first half, and I wondered what it would have sounded like if the musicians had not been amplified.  In addition to the incredible clarinet playing, highlights included the virtuoso tabla playing of Swapan Chaudhuri and the piece that Narasimhalu Vadavat played with the CalArts Balinese Gamelan Ensemble to conclude the concert.

Next, Stéphane Chausse played with a jazz combo for the welcome reception outside in the Valley Performing Arts Center courtyard, while everyone milled around and socialized. 

As always, it is impossible to attend all events so I welcome comments or guest posts from people who have things to add to my daily reports! 
One of the dorms on campus at CalState Northridge