Friday, March 11, 2016

Clarinet Choirs

Supplementing our September 2015 column on clarinet ensembles, we extend our coverage to larger ensembles, namely clarinet choir websites that caught our attention. In this column we are excited to welcome Bret Pimentel as a guest author for Clarinet Cache. As an active blogger and regular contributor to the clarinet community, Bret has been mentioned several times in our column and blog posts, and his article for "The 21st-Century Woodwind Doubler" appeared in the June 2015 issue of The Clarinet. We welcome him and his expert knowledge in our never-ending search of the web.

Northwest Clarinet ChoirNorthwest Clarinet Choir is an active community-based ensemble that promotes clarinet choir music in the Seattle area. Under the direction of William Blayney, the ensemble recently performed at ClarinetFest 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as well as other clarinet festivals in previous years. Members in the group are of all ages with various backgrounds and livelihoods, including regular participation by the All-City Clarinets, a separate performing ensemble consisting of area high-school and middle-school students. Touting one the largest private collections of clarinet choir sheet music in the United States, Northwest Clarinet Choir often performs both original compositions and arrangements, many of which are done by Blayney and other members of the ensemble. To hear the group perform, check out the two videos posted on their website or visit their YouTube channel for several hours worth of video footage.  

Los Angeles Clarinet ChoirAnother very active group that has been in existence for over ten years is the Los Angeles Clarinet Choir. Under the principal direction of the group’s founder Margaret Thornhill (author of “The Clarinet Choir” column in The Clarinet) and associate director Victoria Ramos, this sixteen-member choir has performed at several festivals, including ClarinetFest 2010 and 2011. Known for its unique programming and dedication to premiering new compositions and arrangements, this professional ensemble regularly posts new videos to the YouTube channel Arundo76. There you can find scores of high-quality performances by the group as well as performances from the Claremont Clarinet Festival.

Austrian Clarinet Choir The Austrian Clarinet Choir (österreichische Klarinettenchor) was formed in 2007 by members of the Austrian Clarinet Society. It is led by Dr. Friedrich Pfatschbacher and Armin Suppan, and rehearses in the facilities of the Musikschule Mautern. The ACC’s German-language website features several performance videos.

Capriccio Clarinet Orchestra “Orchestra” truly is the correct word for the Capriccio Clarinet Orchestra, a 40-member ensemble based in the Netherlands. The CCO, directed by John de Beer, performs ambitious transcriptions of large-scale orchestral works (such as the complete Dvořák New World Symphony!). The group has maintained an active worldwide performance calendar since 1989, and also does educational outreach events.The CCO’s website provides ample inspiration--video and audio recordings, as well as historical information--for clarinetists interested in forming large clarinet ensembles. It also includes an extensive and searchable repertoire list, with publisher information.

The University of Illinois Clarinet Choir
One unexpected source unearthed in our research lead us to the University of Illinois Clarinet Choir’s page. Chronicling the history and legacy of the ensemble and its founder, Harvey Hermann, this website provides interesting information on the history of the group, activities, and literature performed by the ensemble. Serving as director from 1965 to his retirement from the group in 1998, Hermann had to write numerous transcriptions for his students, including major orchestral works, out of necessity due to the small body of clarinet choir repertoire available at that time. Unfortunately, the ensemble no longer exists, but Hermann's contribution to the literature and genre are still present. By going to the recording links, we can hear and experience works from the seven LP recordings Hermann made with the group. These digitized files from the original LPs are quite a gem. Hermann also has music for sale on the site. Here you can peruse a listing of unpublished original works and transcriptions from his own library, with many of the compositions taken from manuscript copies and reproduced with software notation. 

Chattanooga Clarinet ChoirThe Chattanooga Clarinet Choir has a notable website that contains resourceful information and links to other clarinet choir websites, select artists, and music and equipment vendors. At one point in time the site featured tons of live audio files of a variety of clarinet choir works, but currently the sound files are not accessible. A large collection of public domain sheet music is available to download, including clarinet and piano works and unaccompanied pieces (site requires password for this link), but unfortunately no clarinet choir literature is listed. The group was founded in 1999 by Jay Craven and is directed by Lok Kim. 

Silverwood Clarinet Choir The Silverwood Clarinet Choir is a professional ensemble in central New York state. Pamela Mastrobattisto leads the group, but frequently turns over the baton to guest conductors. The SCC does polished performances of challenging repertoire including transcriptions and original compositions.The Silverwood Clarinet Choir website includes many performance videos and audio recordings, a selective repertoire list, and links to the group’s other online outlets, including a clarinet choir blog and Facebook page.