Hi Everyone! This is my clarinet blog. We've been having a great time at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Our schedule is crazy. We get up, eat, and drive to the campus where we unload and split into our respective masterclasses.
My teacher is Jun Wantabe and he plays saxophone and Clarinet. He's a great teacher. We've been talking a lot about basics and it has been a great review for me. One of the other participants with us is a fourteen-year-old clarinetist named Rory, he is a private student of Jun and has only been studying for a year, but he is amazing. I'm going to play the Mendelssohn Concertpiece NO. 1 with him. I've played it with Liz, and it will be fun to revisit it.
We're also playing some clarinet quartets including "The History of the Tango" by Astor Piazzola (Dr. Verdie's favorite!). Its fun to revisit a composer Quintessential has recorded recently. We've done his "Grand Tango" arranged by Jack Sharretts.
At 1:30pm, Quintessential Winds has coaching for the "Chamber music" class. Our first day of coaching (Monday) was quite intimidating. Marc Fink (oboist), David Mueller (bassoonist), Dorli McWayne (Katie's HS flute teacher), and John Barcellona (The flute doctor himself!) all walked into our rehearsal very excited to coach us. We told them our current repertoire and they busily argued over who would coach which piece! We played through Umoja (not memorized and standing this time...) and then we worked on Afro-Cuban Concerto with Dorlie (who premiered the Chamber Orchestra version of the work).
David Mueller has been coaching us a lot. We worked on Dr. Verdie’s Tangoecente and he gave us some really great insight. We’ve performed it a hundred times yet he managed to find some hidden nuances within the piece we hadn’t considered. It was very refreshing. Although each of our coaching sessions has been mind-blowing, the one that stood out the most for me was when we played Blumer’s Op. 52 Quintet for my teacher, Jun Watabe. I should back up…
We saw Jun perform his recent commission last night, Triple Concerto for two in which he plays insanely virtuosic licks on both alto Sax and clarinet with only a measure or so in between. The audience went ballistic. He is a virtuoso’s virtuoso. What a performance…
So he comes to coach our Blumer with no score and listens to us perform an entire ten-minute movement. Afterwards, he was able to identify certain sections and tonal centers and even identify specific pitches within each of our solos to bring out for musical enhancement. What a genius. In the second movement, he helped us trade lines between each other without losing the continuity of the phrase. After one specific rep, we almost started crying because of how beautifully he helped us to play!
I haven’t even mentioned orchestra yet. Our conductor is Robert Franz , the associate conductor of the Houston Symphony. He’s great! He picked really fun rep for us. We’re doing Prokofiev’s 5th Symphony, Mendelssohn’s “Calm Sea” Overture, six of Mahler’s “Wunderhorn” cycle, and Movement 1 of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante (with a violinist and violist who studied with David Oisterach at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory!) I’m playing Effer on the Symphony and it is kicking my butt! I’m getting my Eb chops back into shape quickly but the part is extraordinarily demanding. It is fun to see my folder fill up with tons of amazingly diverse repertoire and know that it will be performed and on my rep list in only a week! What an experience.