Friday, August 3, 2012

Clarinet Fest Day 2

The second day of the festival started bright and early at 8:30am with a Horizon Highlights recital featuring music for clarinet and percussion.  The program began with clarinetist Karem J. Simon's energetic flourishes in Alexina Louie's four-movement work Cadenzas, followed by John Allemeier's Like Gravity, a piece written for clarinet, violin, cello, and marimba.  Faculty members and clarinetist Jesse Krebs from Truman State University immediately slowed the pace of the program with their wonderful performance of this dark and sonorous piece.  The recital ended with David Carter performing works with marimba on both soprano and bass clarinet.  Although we left before his final piece, Carter and percussionist Ricardo Coelho de Souza demonstrated impeccable ensemble precision, which is always a challenge in this type of ensemble.

Larry Guy's lecture about Daniel Bonade was a fascinating tour of Bonade's most important contributions to clarinet pedagogy.  Guy discussed Bonade's concepts of tone production, embouchure support, legato fingers, and phrasing in great detail.  He also had audio examples of Bonade performing with the Philadelphia Orchestra, illustrating each concept with the playing of the master himself.

In a subsequent platform dedicated to Bonade, Shannon Thompson's presentation on the evolution and attainment of Bonade's signature sound traced the orchestral aesthetics established with his appointment to the Philadelphia Orchestra.  Thompson covered equipment Bonade used over the years and his influence and control on his students' own setup.  After following the evolution of mouthpiece and barrel modifications, she also addressed how Robert Marcellus carried on Bonade's teaching legacy through his own teaching philosophy.  Thompson's wonderfully edited power point presentation included rare video footage of Marcellus giving master classes.  Although the audio was a bit hard to hear at times, it was a real treat to see and hear him teach!

The pedagogy round table with Deborah Chodacki, Denise Gainey, Larry Guy, and Richard MacDowell continued the discussion of the legacy of teachers of Bonade's generation.  The conversation began with anecdotes about the confrontational teaching style of oboist Marcel Tabuteau, professor of woodwinds at Curtis, and Kalmen Opperman.  Gainey related what Opperman said to her in her first lesson: "You don't know a g-d damn thing about the clarinet!"

Pedagogy round table
 Other stories involved Tabuteau and teachers trained by him who would purposely smash students' reeds, saying "I built my career on my second-best reed!"  This approach of belittlement and emotional manipulation was experienced by many students of that generation of teachers, but the panel agreed that it is no longer acceptable to teach that way today, even if you wanted to.  Chodacki summed things up on that topic by saying that even though these famous teachers conveyed valuable concepts, it was possible to teach these concepts effectively without the fear.

The discussion also touched on how involved teachers should be in their students' lives, from addressing psychological problems to being friends on Facebook. The audience had quite a laugh when Chodacki attempted to imagine what Robert Marcellus' Facebook page would look like!

One of the afternoon concerts featured french clarinetist Sabrina Moulai performing standard pieces by Francaix, Schumann, and Rossini.  Dazzling the audience with her velvety tone and flawless technique, Moulai's musical sensibilities and subtle rubatos made every phrase come alive.

Sabrina Moulai

On a separate program, Czech clarinetist Karel Dohnal brought house down with his performance Karlheinz Stockhausen's Harlekin for Solo Clarinet.  For almost forty-five minutes, Karel captivated the audience with his choreographed acrobatic moves, hilarious facial expressions, and his everlasting stamina-all while playing the clarinet!

Karel Dohnal
 We're both playing in Ben Stonaker's piece 44 Contras on Sunday, so we then headed to a very interesting first rehearsal for that piece!

44 Contras rehearsal
Next, we took advantage of the nightly manager's reception at the Embassy Suites, where people mingled and talked while groups comprised of clarinet enthusiasts performed in the beautiful atrium.

Manager's reception
In the evening, we heard Corrado Giuffredi and friends perform an unusual and delightful program.  Accordionist Cesare Chiacchiaretta stole the show with his animated, virtuosic accordion playing.  The duo of Giuffredi and Chiacchiaretta performed pieces by Rota, Piazzola and others, captivating the audience with moments of great restraint alternating with great passion.  Morales joined them for a sparkling performance of Mendelssohn's Concertpiece No. 2, and the program ended with two pieces played by the ClarinetFest Bass Clarinet Ensemble, with Klezmer soloist, David Krakauer.  Just as the performers were exiting the stage and the audience was ready to leave, Chiacchiaretta re-enters the stage with his accordion followed by Guiffredi for an encore.  As a second encore, Krakauer joins the duo on stage and the two clarinetists begin to duel.  Only after countless wailings of high notes thrown back and forth between the two players does the night finish with a (second) standing ovation.
ClarinetFest Bass Clarinet Ensemble

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