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April 2014 Hot News




29 April 2014

William O Smith, Legendary exponent of New Music as Composer and Performer, and Jazz Clarinetist, in Residence at Arizona State University (Tempe) with Host and VIP Dr Robert Spring

Tempe, Arizona USA

           At 88 years old, William Smith still loves to go to Cold Stone Creamery to get a scoop of vanilla with M&M’s. This is exactly what he did on Saturday, when he sat and talked to ASU’s clarinet studio about his vast array of experiences, ranging from playing for the Reagans to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Then Smith realized his ice cream was melting and paused to eat it.

           He is the inventor of many extended techniques for the clarinet, including playing two clarinets at once, playing half a clarinet, and experimenting with playing multiple notes at once, called multiphonics. But he keeps coming back to ASU for the ice cream, he said.

          Smith visited ASU Friday through Sunday to perform a recital of his work, teach a master class, and share his stories with the clarinet studio. Although it is his fourth visit, he said he doesn’t tire of visiting because of the warm, inventive nature of those in the clarinet studio under professors Robert Spring and Joshua Gardner.

          “Many clarinet teachers at universities are trying to prepare you for playing in a symphony orchestra, but in addition, we need to keep up with what’s happening with the music of our day,” Smith said. “(Spring) seems to infuse his students with curiosity for new things. It’s always a pleasure for me to play for the students here. (Spring) is a good host and a good man and he knows this great ice cream place.”

          Smith’s career as a world-famous clarinetist began when he was 10 and a traveling salesman came to his parents’ apartment.

         “(The salesman) said, ‘Every home should have a musician, and if you’ll pay for 32 lessons for your son, we’ll give him a free instrument,’” Smith explained. “I was standing there, and I said, ‘Please Mother, can I?’ … I did well in the clarinet and loved it from the beginning.”

          “Hearing him was like opening the doors of paradise,” Smith said. “I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do.’”

          At 15, he auditioned and was invited to join the Oakland Symphony. After high school, he decided to follow the lifestyle of his idol, Goodman, and joined a touring dance band. But after hearing some advice from a drummer in the band, Smith decided to focus on his education and briefly attended the Juilliard School, where he performed at Carnegie Hall.

          He then he decided he wanted to compose, so he left Juilliard and returned to Oakland to study under the famous composer Darius Milhaud, who Smith said taught him some of his greatest lessons in composing.

          “It’s not just a numbers game,” he said. “You have to make music out of it.”

          When he was 13, he attended the 1939 World’s Fair and saw Benny Goodman perform, which inspired him greatly.

           Smith’s composing career, both for classical and jazz clarinet, as well as his performance skill, led him to many famous venues and people, including concerts at the White House and the Kremlin.

           Smith said during the band’s photo-op with the Reagans, the band’s manager tried to convince Nancy Reagan to invite the musicians to perform at a dinner conference in Moscow for Gorbachev. The manager succeeded, and the quartet flew to Russia on Air Force One.

           He said the trip wasn’t as glamorous as most would think.

           “They had us sleeping on wooden benches and eating peanut butter sandwiches,” Smith said. “It was no big deal.”

           After the Moscow concert, Gorbachev approached Smith to shake his hand and congratulate him on the performance.

           “I thought I did my little bit to help tear down the Berlin Wall,” Smith said.

            He said his type of experimental techniques for the clarinet support his general philosophy about music.

           “Music will die if you don’t refresh it,” Smith said. “I think you should explore what the clarinet can do, beyond just the normal symphonic sound.”

            Kristi Hanno, a clarinet performance graduate student, said she greatly admires all Smith has done for the clarinet community through his unique compositions.

            "I like that he stuck his foot out there for us,” she said. “It opens up so many doors compositionally and performance-wise. With those basic building blocks that he discovered, there’s a whole world waiting for us.”

            Hanno said she loves talking to Smith because his stories and wisdom are inspiring.

           “I’d like to get more involved with composition for contemporary clarinet,” she said. “He’s just a wealth of knowledge.”

            Robert Spring, who teaches clarinet, went even further to say Smith is responsible for nearly all recent changes in clarinet music.

            “Bill changed the direction of clarinet playing,” he said. “I think Bill’s responsible, in many ways, for everything that’s changed in clarinet performance since the 1960s. I think he’s responsible for quarter tones, using electronics in performances and giving composers the OK to expand the palate of musical sounds out further.”

            Quarter tones are another extended technique in which a note is played which is halfway between the normal interval for different notes to exist, which is a half step.

            Spring went on to say Smith isn’t just an excellent musician but is also a genuinely kind person whom he loves to see interact with his studio.

            “Bill’s a very giving person, both with his time and his talents,” he said. “Bill encourages everyone to be as creative as he is, and he challenges you if you’re not.”

            While introducing Smith before his recital on Saturday, Spring cut short his prepared speech after he was choked up by tears.

             He said Smith’s impact on his life, also as a world-famous clarinetist, is immeasurable.           

           “That’s why I get so emotional, because this man has had such an impact on my life,” Spring said. “When he comes here, he doesn’t speak loudly, but he manages to command a room and I don’t know how he does it, except for what he’s done.”

           Smith finished eating his ice cream and sat contently, speaking to the clarinet students. Just a few hours before, when Smith finished playing in his recital after an encore, he had held his clarinet up over his head, in satisfaction with his performance. The audience had laughed, and the applause surged ever louder.


 28 April 2014

 Renowned Clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein Performs major Chamber Concert replacing on short notice Martin Frost who was indisposed with the San Francisco Chamber Music Series Final Concert

San Francisco, California USA


April 28 2014

VIP Eva Wasserman-Margolis Master Class at The Manhattan School of Music

New York City USA

Summary coming soon



23 - 27 April 2014


Results of the International Debussy Clarinet Competition 

Paris, France


1 Andréa Fallico - Italy - 2 Amaury Viduvier - France - 3 Daniel Mourek - Czech Republic

Summary coming soon





19 April 2014

University of Delaware Clarinet Day with Artist Faculty and VIP's Miriam Adam (IMANI Winds) and Dr Stephanie Zelnick (Solo Clarinetist in the Boulder (Colorado) Philharmonic and Professor at the University of Kansas - Christopher Nichols, Director

Newark, Delaware USA

              Saturday, April 19, 2014 marked the beginning of a new tradition at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware. Twenty-five participants ranging in age from eighth grade to “retired” joined Christopher Nichols, new UD clarinet faculty, and the UD Clarinet Studio for this new event in Puglisi Orchestra Hall in the Roselle Center for the Arts. The day-long event included performances, festival choir rehearsals, master classes and vendor exhibits for all in attendance to explore. AdZel, a duo comprised of clarinetists Mariam Adam and Stephanie Zelnick, served as the guest artist-clinicians.

          The day opened with a recital showcasing the UD Clarinet Studio. Christopher Nichols opened this program with a performance of Paul Harvey’s Etudes on Themes of Gershwin. Nichols was then joined by UD graduate students Rachelle Dizon and Robin Lamel to perform Franz Krommer’s Variations on a Theme of Pleyel. The UD Clarinet Ensemble concluded this recital with a rousing rendition of Freddie Mercury’s Bohemian Rhapsody arranged by K. Tod Kerstetter.

        The first master class of the day, led by Christopher Nichols, addressed topics including efficient hand position, phrasing concepts and performance anxiety with high school students Sarah Johnson, Natalie Willis and Jenna O’Brien from Avon Grove High School in West Grove, Pennsylvania. After a lunch break, AdZel presented the featured artist-clinician master class with UD undergraduate and graduate students, Kourtney Bastianelli, Joanna McCoskey, Samantha Romero, Rachelle Dizon and Robin Lamel. Over the course of the class, AdZel discussed a wide variety of topics such as phrasing, sound production and historical performance considerations. The most resounding and recurrent items of discussion were relaxed breathing, air management and breath support, which resulted in a significant improvement in tone quality from each master class participant.

            The featured artist performance by AdZel, entitled The Fish Tailed Maiden, interwove music with text by Egyptian-American writer Denmo Ibrahim. Through a woven tapestry of intricate sounds and stories, the program highlights the similarities between Jewish-American and Arab-American girls and women. The performance incorporated spoken word, drama and percussive elements to highlight the unity of these two complex cultures. To conclude the program, AdZel invited Christopher Nichols to join them for an energetic rendition of Mike Curtis’ Three Klezmer Trios.

            In addition to the master classes and performances, attendees were able to visit exhibits by Lisa’s Clarinet Shop, Backun Musical Services, composer Kevin Cope, Music and Arts, Accent Music and RJ Music Group. Participants received a t-shirt, catered lunch and entry into a drawing for prizes. The lucky winners received prizes including mouthpieces and accessories donated by the various exhibitors and the UD Department of Music. Delaware Clarinet Day acknowledges Buffet Group USA, Conn Selmer, Music and Arts, Accent Music, University of Delaware Department of Music and the President’s Diversity Initiative for their generous support of the event.

           The day concluded with a performance by the Delaware Clarinet Day Festival Choir including the following selections: Robert Schumann’s Träumerei arranged by Daniel Dorff; Charles Gounod’s Funeral March of a Marionette arranged by Anthony Brackett; Dmitri Shostakovich’s Two Preludes arranged by William Schmidt; Henry Mancini’s Baby Elephant Walk arranged by Frank Halferty; Edvard Grieg’s “Sarabande” from Holberg Suite arranged by Russell Denwood; and the world premiere performance of John Lennon’s Because arranged for clarinet choir by UD senior Joanna McCoskey.

The 2nd Annual Delaware Clarinet Day is scheduled for Saturday, March 14, 2015, featuring guest artist clinician Robert Dilutis, associate professor of clarinet at the University of Maryland, College Park. For more information, please contact Christopher Nichols at



13 April 2014

2014 Harold Wright Merit Award Competition winner with the Boston Woodwind Society - Clarinetist Iván Javier Valbuena Páez

Boston, Massachusetts USA

  1.             Congratulations to the 2014 Harold Wright Merit Award Competition winner! Born in Bogotá, Colombia, clarinetist Iván Javier Valbuena Páez began his studies at eight years old at the Batuta Fundation and the Wind Band System of Cundinamarca....
    He has performed solo recitals in the auditorium of the National University, the Planetarium Oriol Rangel, the Luis Angel Arango Library Concert Hall, as well as the Leon de Greiff, Christopher Columbus, Teresa Cuervo National Museum auditorium and Edward Pickman Hall in Cambridge, MA. Iván has participated in Master classes with Héctor Pinzon, Robert De Gennaro, Philippe Berrod, Timothy Perry, Michael Webster, Jonathan Colher, among others.

               Valbuena has won numerous competitions for his performance, including first place in the National University of Colombia's Solo Competition with the Collegium Musicum Orchestra, as well as the Bogotá Philharmonic Young Performers Competition. He was invited to perform with the Bogotá Philharmonic, he was one of the winners of the Clarinetistas Bogotanos Competition, and won second prize in the OFB National Music Performance Competition in Bogotá. Iván is also the winner of the 2013 Longy School of Music Concerto Competition and Honors Competition in 2014. Iván has been a member of the Youth Orchestra of the Americas (YOA) since 2010, and has been selected as one of eight musicians from throughout the Americas to participate in the YOA Global Leaders Program, a leadership training course. He graduate from the National Conservatory of Music at the National University of Colombia and is currently pursuing a Master of Music degree in clarinet performance at Longy School of Music of Bard College. Iván is a student of Jorge Montilla.

              The Boston Woodwind Society has established merit awards to honor the artistry and achievements of five legendary woodwind musicians. The awards are presented annually to outstanding young students hoping to fulfill their dreams of entering the world of professional players. Selected through open competitions by woodwind artists and faculty members of leading schools of music, each recipient of an award receives a cash prize of $1,000. The purpose of these awards is to encourage and to recognize achievements of high standards of musical integrity and artistry as exemplified by the artists for whom the awards have been named.

              Harold Wright was born in Wayne, Pennsylvania and began playing the clarinet at age twelve. He attended the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied clarinet with the Philadelphia Orchestra's principal clarinetist, Ralph McLane, and chamber music with that orchestra's principal oboist, Marcel Tabuteau.

             Upon graduating from Curtis, Mr. Wright joined the Houston Symphony and a year later became principal clarinetist of the Dallas Symphony. For many summers he participated in the Marlboro Music Festival and the Casals Festival Orchestra and was a frequent guest artist with the Lincoln Center Chamber Concerts, the Mostly Mozart Festival, and the chamber music concerts at the 92nd Street "Y" in New York. He also appeared frequently with such leading string quartets as the Budapest, Guarneri, Vermeer, and Juilliard. In 1970 he joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra as principal clarinet and taught at New England Conservatory, Boston University, and the Tanglewood Music Center until his untimely death in August 1993. He has left a legacy of memorable recordings.


    South Florida University Clarinet Fest, Calvin Falwell, Director, with Guest Artists  VIP Dr Rapheal Sanders (Professor at State University of New York at Potsdam), VIP Dr Timothy Phillips (Professor at Troy University ((Alabama)) - 12 April 2014

    Harry Sparnaay, Renowned Bass Clarinetist and Proponent of New Music,  receives the 1st Honorary Membership Award from the European Clarinet Association - ECA  at the Bimhuis, Amsterdam April 11, Presented by ECA President and VIP Stephan Vermeersch


    9th Annual Single Reed Symposium with VIP's Julia Heinen from California State University at Northridge, and VIP Director Christy Banks - Millersville, Pennsylvania - 11 April 2014


    Master Class with Dr Michele Gingras, Professor at Miami University (Ohio) at Penn State University at State College, Pennsylvania - Dr Anthony Costa, Host professor - 10 April 2014


3 - 5 April 2014

VIP Ricardo Morales Soloist in Performance of Weber's 1st Clarinet Concerto Op 73  with The Philadelphia Orchestra - Christoph von Dohnányi - Conductor

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

             When you have an excellent clarinetist at your disposal, you send him out on stage with the Mozart concerto and crowds will swoon. But Ricardo Morales is no excellent clarinetist. He is a superlative one. For him on Thursday night, nothing less than the formidable  Weber Clarinet Concerto No. 1 would do, and the capacity audience roared.

             Christoph von Dohnányi was on the podium, and, rounding out the Philadelphia Orchestra program in Verizon Hall with Brahms and Beethoven, he won traditionalist hearts. But without knowing the date on the Weber (1811), it would have been easy to miss what a radical avatar of romanticism it was.

            Written just two decades after Mozart's concerto, it stretched not only technique but also the ear. Is that slow middle section, embedded in an otherwise jocular third movement, not a textbook bit of Italian bel canto? Morales channeled Joan Sutherland thrillingly when, at the end of the first movement, a series of ever-higher trills gave way to a triumphant high G.

           This level of playing exists in a rarefied stratum. Not long ago, Morales threatened to steal out of town, to the New York Philharmonic. Not so fast, Philadelphia said, and persuaded Morales to stay. It was an important save. His presence raises standards in the ensemble.

           He has technical mastery, a sweet tone throughout the register (which the Weber certainly exploits), and a good instinct for filling out characterizations. If Woody Woodpecker had been set in the early-19th-century Schwarzwald, a more precise leitmotif could not be found than the main theme of the third movement. Here Morales struck a beautiful blend of light comedy.

           Dohnányi, music director laureate of the Cleveland Orchestra, paced the opening of Brahms' Variations on a Theme of Joseph Haydn quickly, more like something you'd whistle on a brisk country walk than hear in a concert hall - unlike the way Sawallisch heard it - but it fit. He etched with menacing fine details the slithering, nocturnal eighth variation, and gave a rather patriotic glow to the broad-shouldered finale.

          At peace with himself and Beethoven, Dohnányi was judicious and modest with the Symphony No. 7. Nothing flustered him; all was correct. Even the coiled, dotted rhythm persistent in the first movement was relaxed. The approach fell comfortably on the orchestra, even if a player or two struggled a bit with solos. Still, Dohnányi presided over an interpretation convincing because it avoided any personal incursions other than those Beethoven indicated himself.


When you have an excellent clarinetist at your disposal, you send him out on stage with the Mozart concerto and crowds will swoon. But Ricardo Morales is no excellent clarinetist. He is a superlative one. For him on Thursday night, nothing less than the formidable  Weber Clarinet Concerto No. 1 would do, and the capacity audience roared.
When you have an excellent clarinetist at your disposal, you send him out on stage with the Mozart concerto and crowds will swoon. But Ricardo Morales is no excellent clarinetist. He is a superlative one. For him on Thursday night, nothing less than the formidable  Weber Clarinet Concerto No. 1 would do, and the capacity audience roared.
When you have an excellent clarinetist at your disposal, you send him out on stage with the Mozart concerto and crowds will swoon. But Ricardo Morales is no excellent clarinetist. He is a superlative one. For him on Thursday night, nothing less than the formidable  Weber Clarinet Concerto No. 1 would do, and the capacity audience roared.

When you have an excellent clarinetist at your disposal, you send him out on stage with the Mozart concerto and crowds will swoon. But Ricardo Morales is no excellent clarinetist. He is a superlative one. For him on Thursday night, nothing less than the formidable  Weber Clarinet Concerto No. 1 would do, and the capacity audience roared.


3 April 2014

Cary Bell, Solo Clarinetist in the San Francisco Symphony, performs Nielsen Clarinet Concerto Op 57 with Herbert Blomstedt Conductor

San Francisco, California USA

              When it comes to the clarinet, there doesn't seem to be anything Carey Bell can't do. And all of it comes into play in Carl Nielsen's demanding Clarinet Concerto, which was the vehicle for Bell's dazzling solo turn in Davies Symphony Hall on Thursday afternoon with the San Francisco Symphony under conductor Herbert Blomstedt.

              Bell's seven-year tenure as the Symphony's principal clarinetist (he succeeded the late David Breeden in 2007) has been a joyride for the orchestra's audiences. We've learned to be attuned to the particular virtues of his contributions to a range of symphonic repertoire - his recognizable instrumental sound, at once light-footed and muscular, and the crisp yet flexible precision of his execution.

              But Thursday's performance offered the most extensive helping yet of Bell's artistry, aside from the Mozart concerto in 2008. It did not disappoint.

              Here, in a luxuriantly unbroken span of 25 minutes of music, were all the splendors that listeners have been getting in smaller doses, from rapid-fire instrumental virtuosity to a rich and soulful expressive vein. If the daunting difficulty - on both the technical and interpretive levels - of this showpiece held any terrors for Bell, the evidence was nowhere onstage.

              Nielsen's 1928 concerto, the last major work of his career, was conceived as one in a series of character sketches for the members of the Copenhagen Wind Quintet, whose personalities he knew well (only the concertos for flute and clarinet actually got written). Its dedicatee, Aage Oxenvad, was by all accounts a mercurial character, given to unpredictable fits of anger within an essentially warm and agreeable temperament.

             So the concerto traces an aptly unpredictable path. There are sections that are so sweet-tempered and lyrical as to be almost cloying, beginning with the ingratiating and rhythmically square opening theme.

             Those in turn are interspersed with wild, aggressively untrammeled outbursts in which the harmonic scaffolding that is Nielsen's constant reference point seems at risk of blowing apart altogether. By the time the concerto coasts into its closing measures, which are marked by an ethereal sense of serenity, the audience feels properly whiplashed.

             Together, Bell and Blomstedt helped bring out the emotional logic of this journey without ever stinting on its essential weirdness and volatility. Bell used his instrument to lend an elegant, singing cast to the concerto's lyrical passages, then imparted an air of ferocity to the more unhinged passages. Perhaps Bell's finest moments came in the concerto's two cadenzas - the first shadowy and ominous, the second pugnacious and full of hooting jabs.

             After intermission, Blomstedt led the orchestra in a superb performance of Schubert's "Great" C-Major Symphony, a reading infused by deep love and understanding of the score (if nothing else, Blomstedt established his mastery by taking the repeats indicated in the music).

            The first movement sounded especially fervent, helped along by Blomstedt's brisk tempos and robust, gleaming contributions from the brass. Oboist Jonathan Fischer's plangent solo got the slow movement off to a buoyant start, and the finale was as fearless and focused as I've heard it.




1 April 2014

Senior VIP Franklin Cohen, Solo Clarinetist in The Cleveland Orchestra and Professor at the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM)  Master Class at Virginia Commonwealth University - Dr Charles West, Host

Richmond, Virginia USA



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Revised: May 06, 2014