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Welcome to the 2006 - 2007 Clarinet Choir News Page.  Given the popularity of this ensemble medium and the many ensembles operating throughout the world, this page provides for a special emphasis to learn about events and Festivals.  All such organizations are invited to submit important event information and Festivals to spread the interest and encourage more performance and composition.

Harvey Hermann and Host William Blayney

Wife, Jon Manasse and Blayney

Broadway Lobby

Blayney, Students, and Manasse

2 Students and Jon Manasse

Robert DiLutis, Buffet, and Mitchell Estrin

DiLutis Class

Vandoren table

Ted Brown Music display

Jeanne Music

University of Florida Clarinet Ensemble under Estrin

14 October 2007

Buffet-Crampon/Vandoren 3rd Clarinet Choir Festival

Seattle, Washington USA

          This 3rd Major Clarinet Choir Festival, led by Mitchell Estrin, made for a success on the West Coast featuring 8 Clarinet Choirs from all over the country, with Harvey Hermann, noted pioneer in the Choir movement for several years, leading the Mass Choir including the majority of players attending and benefitting.  Host for this program was William Blayney, a leading teacher and Principal Clarinetist in the Seattle Symphony, and Director of the Northwest Clarinet Choir in Seattle.  Noted Clarinet Ensembles, including from the University of Florida, performed programs of high professional quality, performed in the Broadway Performance Hall. Sponsors for this major event, and free admission for all participants was Buffet-Crampon USA and Vandoren, who underwrote the costs of this Festival as a Clarinet Public service.  Besides performances and rehearsals by the participants, Master Classes were held, especially noteworthy by Soloist and major Player Jon Manasse, who performed the Mozart Clarinet Concerto K 622 with the Seattle Symphony Saturday night.  The above galleries tell an intangible review of the events and the intensity seen at this event.  Next year it is planned to hold this Festival in Austin, Texas in October 2008.

6 July 2007

“The Great Clarinet Circus” featured at Vancouver ClarinetFest with Performance by the Los Angeles Clarinet Choir

Vancouver, BC, Canada

           On July 6, 2007, the Los Angeles Clarinet Choir, conducted by Dr. Margaret Thornhill, performed the International Premiere of an important new work for 14 clarinets and percussion, “The Great Clarinet Circus” by Edward Cansino, at the ICA ClarinetFest in Vancouver, British Columbia, to a standing-room-only audience. The nine-movement, 25 minute work includes a movement for solo basset horn, “Sad Clown”, performed in Vancouver by guest soloist David Howard, bass clarinetist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Percussionist Timm Boatman, was also featured in a virtuosic duo for xylophone and soprano clarinet with the choir’s principal clarinetist, Lori Musicant Koch.

          The work is scored for two E-flat clarinets (one doubling bass), eight soprano clarinets (option of 12 sopranos); basset horn; bass 1 and 2; B-flat contrabass; and a battery of percussion (one player; may be divided) including xylophone, glockenspiel, gongs, snare, bass, cymbals, slide whistle, taxi horn, and more. Scores and parts are available for purchase by writing to the composer at:

          A professional quality studio recording may be purchased from the Clarinet Choir by contacting Margaret Thornhill at

          Cansino, an award-winning California composer of choral, orchestral, operatic and chamber music (including a song cycle for soprano, clarinet and piano, “Seven Songs” of ee cummings) wrote “The Great Clarinet Circus” for the Los Angeles Clarinet Choir in 2005. Inspired by the composer’s childhood recollections of the great Sad Clown, Emmett Kelley, the work is also a tribute to American composer Charles Ives, with the Finale quoting Ives’s famous song “Circus Band.” The composer’s vision of the work includes optional theatrical: the group marches in from offstage during the first movement (Parade); the soprano clarinets hold up their bells to “trumpet” during “Mighty Elephants”; and the 8th movement, Fanfare, precedes“ a circus act of the conductor’s choice” which may be a sword-swallower or chainsaw juggler or an extraneous musical piece performed by a member of the group. The first California performance included a mime in clown face and a dancer attired as master of ceremonies changing large circus cards that announced individual movements. The composer envisions a noisy circus atmosphere, including applause between movements.

Members of the Los Angeles Choir performing in Vancouver were:

David Barnett, Erica Golden, Don Gross, Sarkis Hardy, Joel Kabakoff, Lori Musicant Koch, Wendy Mazon, Nichole Pacquing, Victoria Ramos, Gary Robertz, Alex Sramek, David Sucik, Jonathan Szin, and Steve White.

Redwine, Stephens, Farquhar, Saylor

Capitol Clarinet Choir Program

3 Fits from the Snark notes

6 May 2007

Capitol Clarinet Choir Inaugeral Performance at St Andrew's Methodist Church Concert Series

Edgewater, Maryland USA

           In the last segment of this Church's Concert Series, this new ensemble performed a showcase concert with 3 Premieres as listed on the program.  One special treat was the discovery of a Clarinet Choir work by Henry Cowell written in 1948 and discovered buried at the Library of Congress.  John Stephens, conductor and composer, had 2 works, both premiers, were performed, the Nonette, and a Nocturne, written in 2006. Performers under Ben Redwine's direction, were all first class musicians and the performance proved to be near impeccable in technical proficiency and artist level communication.   Many of the players are members of the Military Bands from Washington and Annapolis.  Three works on the program, Percy Grainger were arranged by Maurice Saylor and Scott Farquhar, both very effective.  Maurice Saylor wrote a new work entitled '3 Fits from the Hunting of the Snark', well scored and part of a larger number of movements.

        This is an ensemble to watch closely for possible future performances, as this was a near unbelievable afternoon for its musical achievement.  Ben Redwine, the Concert Series Director, and Director of this Choir, is to be credited for this event, along with the composers and the performers.

18 February 2007

Gennusa Clarinet Camerata

Riderwood Village in Silver Spring, Maryland USA

          The premier concert of the Gennusa Clarinet Camerata, formerly the American Symphonic Clarinet Choir, was held on February 18, 2007 at Riderwood Village in Silver Spring, Maryland.  The ensemble was named for Ignatius Gennusa, the first clarinetist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for many years and a teacher at Peabody Conservatory for over 45 years, making his the longest teaching record at the school.  Iggy Gennusa lived at Riderwood for a short time before his death in 2003.  The concert also commemorated Peabody's 150th anniversary.  In February 2007, alumni of Peabody performed in 246 concerts in 31 states and 17 countries honoring the contributions Peabody has made to music and musicians all over the world.

         Gennusa Clarinet Camerata, premier concert:  William Wright, Eb clarinet and assistant conductor;  Michael Kelly, Eb clarinet, basset horn and music coordinator; Nancy Genovese, Eb and Bb clarinets; Stephen Bates, Laura Kelsey, Peter Mika, Joseph Tichacek; Angela Murakami, Evan Ross Solomon, Bb clarinet; Denis Malloy, Nancy Switkes, bass clarinet; Maurice Saylor alto and contra bass clarinets; Ronald Vazques, contra alto clarinet; Edward Skidmore, string bass; Greg Jukes, tympani and percussion; SeungShin Sophia Yoo, conductor; Riderwood Village, Encore Theater, Silver Spring, Maryland February 128, 2007, Symphony #94, Haydn (arr. Freeman); Rag Doll, N. H. Brown (arr. Wakefield); Adagio, from the Cclarinet Quintet Op. 23, H. Baermann (formerly attributed to R. Wagner),  Concerto Grosso OP. III, No. 6, Vivaldi (trans. Kermit Peters); Two Fits from "The Hunting of the Snark", Saylor; Irish Tune, Granger (arr, Saylor).

William Blayney and Harvey Hermann

Robert DiLutis in Class

Chris Coppinger introducing Ken Grant before Class

Buffet with Francois Kloc

Ken Grant and Mitchell Estrin

Chris Coppinger and Jon Manasse

Patti and Robert DiLutis performing Poulenc

Francois Kloc, Jon Manasse, Mike Getzin, Robert DiLutis

Jon Manasse and Ken Grant

Manasse Brahms Performance

Francois Kloc and Robert DiLutis

Jon Manasse, Julianne Kirk and Potsdam student

Patti and Robert DiLutis

Harvey Hermann, Mike Getzin, and Mitch Estrin

Ken Grant and Mitchell Estrin

15 October 2006

Buffet-Crampon / Vandoren 2nd Clarinet Choir Festival - Eastman School of Music - 14-15 October 2006

Rochester, New York USA

        Within the short span of this past weekend at the magnificent Eastman School of Music, probably one of the top 3 Schools in the USA, this great Clarinet Ensemble Festival was held to standards never before achieved.  Many groups of all levels performed, from a modest student and adult groups who play for the love of making music, to some astounding ensembles that will be mentioned later in this article.  Mitchell Estrin, Creative and Developmental Manager for Buffet-Crampon, and Professor of Clarinet at the University of Florida in Gainesville, and a regular Clarinetist with the New York Philharmonic when they go on tour, fully was in command of this success, along with the generous sponsorship of Buffet and Vandoren with solid enthusiastic collaboration with the Eastman School and their renowned faculty Kenneth Grant, Robert DiLutis, Jon Manasse, and several other key faculty Patti DiLutis, 2nd and Eb Clarinetist in the Buffalo Philharmonic, William Blayney from the Seattle Symphony,  David Gould from Vandoren in New York, and the great students from Eastman.    In recent memory there have been fine events, but not this artist packed.

Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra Clarinet Quartet and the Pre-College Clarinet Choir under Robert DiLutis

New Horizons Clarinet Choir under Patti DiLutis and the Peterborough Clarinairs under Guest conductor Mitchell Estrin

Buffalo State Clarinet Choir under Crystal Reinoso and the Hochstein-Nazareth-Houghton College Combined Clarinet Choir under Jun Qian

Robert Wesleyan College Clarinet Choir under Alice Meyer

            Above there are several photo galleries with all the ensembles named.  All performances were held in the distinguished Kilbourne Hall, an acoustical wonder in the same class as Carnegie Hall.  Saturday evening, the Rochester Philharmonic performed at the Eastman Theater to critical acclaim- Ken Grant and Robert DiLutis are members of this Orchestra. Throughout the weekend, Master Classes and activities were held involving faculty Ken Grant and Robert DiLutis covering the fine craft of Orchestral section playing, and emphasizing the importance of the 2nd Clarinetist's role in solidifying the duo section and supporting the principal clarinetist as needed to make the section work well.  Subjects included tonal and pitch matching, how to enhance the 'command' of the principal and covering style, phrasing, tonal voicing, and the emphasis on supporting this mission.  Robert DiLutis covered the importance of articulation, developing speed tonguing, time with metronome discipline and rhythmic accuracy at all times. demonstration was made to make the program easy with practice.   Patti and Robert DiLutis performed the Poulenc Sonata for 2 Clarinets and used that work to make a point about these topics discussed, tonal and pitch matching, phrasing, flexibility and making music.  David Weber's legacy was well stressed in tonal development as part of the talks.  Jon Manasse added to the topical and performed the Brahms 2nd Sonata to flawless performance along with the Weber Grand Duo Concertante, demonstrating how lyrical and clean a performance can be. 

University of Florida Clarinet Ensemble under Festival Director Mitchell Estrin

State University of New York at Potsdam Crane School of Music Clarinet Choir under Rapheal Sanders Jr, Julianne Kirk, and Brian Doyle

Eastman Clarinet Choir under Robert DiLutis

Festival Mass Clarinet Choir under Meastro Harvey Hermann and Guest conductor Matthew Sexton

Michael Drapkin Clarinet Trio with Eastman faculty Ramon Ricker and Peter Wright, Solo Clarinetist in the Jacksonville Symphony

        The high points in the Festival were multi-faced.  Guest ensembles such as the University of Florida Clarinet Ensemble under Mitchell Estrin, the Potsdam Clarinet Choir under Raphael Sanders, Jr, Julianne Kirk, and Brian Doyle, the Eastman Clarinet Choir under Robert DiLutis, and the Finale Mass Choir under legend Harvey Hermann, a major historical influence in the Clarinet Choir movement.  Guest conductor Matthew Sexton also conducted the Mass Choir.  The overall musical output from all the ensembles was remarkable.   Working and watching these groups rehearse was high intensity in their preparations. Many players who left after this event were still on a near endorphine high over the level of playing and inspiration. 

       Exhibits from the sponsors Buffet-Crampon, Vandoren, Jeanne Music, and Weiner Music displayed their whole range of products and offerings to benefit the over 300 who came to Eastman for this event.  The most impressive factor about this event is the generosity of soul coming from the whole range of faculty, Industry, especially the hard support from Buffet and Vandoren who totally sponsored this weekend with no admission fees charged to participants, indicating high support for clarinetists to advance the field. 

       The event will take place in 2007 in Seattle, Washington.   Details will follow as information made available.


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Revised: December 21, 2009