Hot News February 2006

Peabody Institute

Backun with student

Student coaching

Backun in tech discussion

Tom Puwalski trying Clarinet setup

Edward Palanker and Jessica Phillips

Jessica Phillips and Mike Getzin

Backun Exhibit

Morrie Backun and Ricardo Morales

26 February 2006

 ‘A Day in the Clarinet Spa’ at Peabody Institute

 Baltimore, Maryland USA

         An exciting day of master classes, working exhibits, given by Morrie Backun, from Vancouver, BC,  a featured

woodwind designer  and maker of his specialty Clarinet bells and tuning barrels, gave a special set of seminars and high

participant interaction given by Tom Puwalski on breaking into Klezmer and another on how to handle stage anxiety,

a Bass Clarinet lecture demonstration by host Edward Palanker entitled Bass Clarinet 101 for Dummies, and a major

recital by artists Ricardo Morales, Jessica Phillips, and Mr Palanker.  There was nothing left out to occupy the interest

of those attending. 

        Over the last few months, Backun has held a product tour to cities as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, in Baltimore, and

many high tier artists have taken notice about the value and concept of his offerings.  What his bells and barrels offer

is an alternative to tradition based designs and ‘forced’ loyalties to manufacturers who do not accept the idea that their

final product is absolute.  When improvements in sound, pitch, response is achieved with the use of these added parts,

it does make a difference in one’s performance, and the word is getting around especially when one notices that many

top players are using these bells and barrels.  Mr Backun is on developmental stage with a new custom based clarinet

which is earmarked for production soon with the same attention to craft detail.   Ricardo Morales is actively involved in

the developments.   During Backun’s 2 hour class, he pointed out the importance of instrument care and showed with tech

instruments the flaws of their horns, including unknown leaks within the clarinet that affected response, tuning and freedom

to play.  Minor things one wouldn’t notice, such as the corks on the joints, the tubing inside their register keys out of alignment

or plugged partially with dirt and gunk, which was corrected during this session (to very probable embarrassment) and many

other pointers.  Key condition was emphasized, as noisy clatter on the horns meant leaks, and implication that the player may

be apathetic to his instrument care resulting in an audition failure, as if one doesn’t care enough to maintain optimal condition

of his instrument, why should the orchestra think he cares about his position?   This session was very important, and several

clarinet repair people came to hear this important session.

           Two sessions were held by Tom Puwalski, a noted Klezmer / Jazz notable in Baltimore, who covered some entertaining basics

of how to approach Klezmer and involved almost the who gathering to develop the ideas and concepts.   His 2nd session covered s

tage fright, and psychological issues when one is performing.  In humorous note, he staged a device head worn which played back

what the performer was thinking as he approached all the problem areas in a performance, such as his preparation, will he make

it through this passage, intangible personal conflicts probably having nothing to do with the performance anyway, and etc, some

of which cracked up the audience.  The message was clear and solutions were discussed.

          Edward Palanker, the host and director of this day, presented a Bass Clarinet talk with demonstration discussing major concept

basics called Bass Clarinet 101 for Dummies, which was designed to set players straight about the differences in approach against the

regular clarinet versus Bass Clarinet playing.  The instruments are not the same when it comes to tonal approach given the size radical

differences, from mouthpiece embouchure, resistance, upper register tone and voicing, the lower register extensions to low C,  use of

clefs, varying between composers, and more.  This is a must session for serious Bass Clarinetists.

Tom Puwalski in klezmer

Klezmer concert

Palanker and Morales performing Mendellsohn

Phillips and Morales performing Ponchielli

Backun, Phillips, Morales, Getzin


          The high point of the day was the evening recital given by Morales, Phillips, and Palanker, performing Duo Clarinet works

including the Mendellsohn Concertpiece No 1 with Morales and Palanker, the Ponchielli II Convergno, Divertimento with Morales

and Phillips, and Ricardo Morales performing the Messenger Solo de Concours, and the Brahms 2nd Sonata, Op 120. 

          The setting for this entire day was highly dignified at this great Conservatory and worth the effort to come and the sessions

were free to attend.  Credit is due to Mr Palanker for the effort to make this day a real standout success.


Andre Kervin coaching student

Student lesson with Kervin

RIGI Wind Symphony

Clarinet section

Andre Kervin and Weber Concerto No 2

Weber Concerto

24 February 2006

Clarinet Workshop & Concerto Performance with Andre Kervin at Jazeps Vitols Conservatory -

Latvia - 21-24 February

Riga, Latvia

       With support of EU programme SOCRATES/ ERASMUS André Kerver, clarinet and chamber music professor

from the Conservatoire of the Saxion Hogeschool Enschede from the 20th until 25th of February visited in Jazeps Vitols

Latvian Academy of Music.

         André Kerver gave clarinet workshops for the students and professors, teachers from music schools at Jazeps

Vitols Latvian Academy of Music on the 21st and 23rd of February.

        André Kerver together with the Riga City Professional Wind Orchestra RIGA, (Artistic Director and Principal

Conductor Janis Purins) performed The Second Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra by C.M. von Weber in the concerts

in the Jazeps Vitols Latvian Academy of Music Great Hall on the 22nd of February and the Gulbene City Culture Hall on the

24th of February.

      André Kerver gave a clarinet workshop in Gulbene City Music School on the 24th of February.

      More then 30 clarinet players took part in the Clarinet choir in both concerts and played the Suite from Latvian

folk songs arranged by Latvian composer Alvils Altmanis and The Pink Panther by Henry Mancini.

     The Wind Orchestra included in program the Festive Overture Op. 96 by Dimitri Shostakovich,  (to the 100th Anniversary

of the Birth of the composer), Three movements from Suite William Walton “Façade”,  Philip Sparke “DANCE MOVEMENTS”,

M. Ravel La Vallée des Cloches from „MIROIRS”.

 Janis Purins

Head of Wind and Percussion Department at the Jazeps Vitols Latvian Academy of Music

Cornucopia faculty

Russell Dagon and Student

Cornucopia Clarinet Choir

Walter Grabner faculty

Student and Clarinet Choir conductor Harvey Hermann

21 February 2006

Northern Illinois University’s fifth annual Clarinet Cornucopia

DeKalb, Illinois USA

written by Jessica Hajek

             What do you call it when a bunch of clarinet enthusiasts celebrate Mozart’s 250th birthday?  Simple:

Northern Illinois University’s fifth annual Clarinet Cornucopia.  Every year, Dr. Gregory Barrett,

professor of clarinet, and NIU (located 60 miles west of Chicago in DeKalb, Illinois) host the Mecca

for anyone who loves all things clarinet.  Past themes have included the Klezmer clarinet, the Japanese

clarinet, and the German Romantic clarinet.  This year’s theme celebrated one of the most important

classical composers: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  The festivities, held on January 21st, included: a

lecture/recital filled with Mozart chamber music, history, and basset horns; a masterclass with Russell

Dagon (formerly of the Milwaukee Symphony and Northwestern University) assisted by NIU students,

a “Mouthpiece 101” demonstration by Walter Grabner; and performances by the United States Air Force

Band of Mid-America’s Clarinet Quartet and the Ironwood High School Clarinet Choir.

The Cornucopia is attended by clarinet players from the Chicago area and also attracts many participants

from surrounding states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, and Kansas.  Jill Hanes, from Oostburg, Wisconsin,

discovered the Cornucopia from an ICA brochure.  Steven Boyd, director of the Ironwood High School Clarinet

Choir in Michigan, continues to attend the Cornucopia because it is a unique annual event in the Midwest for his

clarinet students. Ken Carlson, from Hannover Park, Illinois, has been playing the clarinet for 48 years and has

attended every Cornucopia since its inception.  The Cornucopia is a great event for clarinetists of all ages and

all skill levels.  Everyone is invited to listen and everyone with a clarinet is invited to play!

The Russell Dagon Masterclass provided a unique experience for those in the audience as well as for those

participating.  On performing the Mozart Clarinet Concerto in an audition, Dagon had this to say:


Everybody hearing the concerto has a strong opinion of how it should be played . . . you can’t second guess how they would like

to hear it.  I think you have to really go with the piece honestly the way you feel it should be performed. . . . Some advice for

the students in the audience: I don’t think anyone should be a clone of anybody else.


            The Mozart recital was an amalgam of performances by NIU faculty, local professionals, and lectures by NIU

faculty.  Dileep Gangolli, clarinetist of the Sheridan Chamber Players, Frank Sidorsky, Kansas State University

(ret.), and Walter Grabner, alongside NIU clarinet faculty Gregory Barrett and Melvin Warner, performed the

Mozart Notturni, assisted by NIU voice faculty members, and the Adagio K. 411. In addition, Gangolli’s Sheridan

Chamber Players performed the Mozart Kegelstatt Trio.  According to Gangolli, “audiences get to hear some

unusual Mozart alongside his standard repertoire [for the clarinet].  The historical commentary was also fascinating,

especially for [those who did not previously] know much about Mozart.   And of course, seeing and hearing a

basset horn is always special.”

                The biggest attraction this year, and every year, is the mass Clarinet Cornucopia Choir.  This year’s Cornucopia

included performance featured an all-Mozart concert lead by Harvey Hermann, former Woodwind Assistant to

the Director of the University of Illinois Bands.  Everyone who attends the Cornucopia is encouraged to participate

in the choir.  The music is distributed, rehearsed, and performed during the day-long event; clarinetists of all talent

levels are welcome to join the choir.  Corey Johnson, from Ironwood High School, self-taught on the clarinet, only

recently joined his school’s clarinet choir, and feels that, “being part of a larger clarinet community will make me

a better player [because] I got to be with all-levels of players: student, professional, and amateur.”  These high

school students also had the opportunity to take lessons with NIU graduate clarinet students the evening before

the Cornucopia. 

                    The Clarinet Cornucopia offers a great experience to learn about the clarinet through music, demonstrations,

and product displays from local music businesses.  The Cornucopia also provides something special: the experience

and camaraderie of being a part of a larger clarinet community.  The Cornucopia is unique because it offers something

to clarinet players of any level.  Demands are placed on the novice the same as the other players, the amateur is

afforded the chance to participate besides top-level performers, and even the most advanced player will still learn

something new or different about the clarinet.  When the day is done, every participant is welcome at a reception

complete with Cornucopia themed snacks and beverages.

            The Cornucopia is a great venue to display local interest in the clarinet and the clarinet facilities offered at

Northern Illinois University.  Anyone interested in learning more about Clarinet Cornucopia and Northern

Illinois University can visit the website found at:  The website also contains

information about how and when to register, and the program for next year’s Cornucopia: The Operatic

Clarinet, tentatively featuring Charlene Zimmerman, principal clarinet of the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra.


10 February 2006

             Clarinet Convention - Leslie Craven, Director at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama


Clarinet Convention

The Clarinet Convention hosted by the Junior Department of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama has now become an institution in its own right, a real success story that has attracted no less than over 400 clarinetists to its door over the period it has been in existence. The convention led by Leslie with friend and colleague Peter Fielding has inspired many clarinetists over the years and the array of guest tutors becomes more illustrious year on year.

Without the support of sponsors such as Vandoren/Rosetti, John Packer LTD, Vincent Bach International, M.A.R.C.A., Woodwind & Co, CASS, Cardiff Music (also known as Providence Music Bristol) the Convention could not happen, so THANK YOU to all the sponsors and to the Royal Welsh College team for all the help and support they offer in administration and logistical assistance. This page is dedicated to the participants, sponsors and tutors.

Enthusiastic plaudits for the day include this from Averil Yeo - who attended the day with daughter Em from the Peninsula Clarinet Choir:
My name is Averil Yeo and my daughter Em and I attended the Clarinet Convention at Cardiff at end of February, She is the leader of Peninsula Clarinet Choir and attended with her teacher Marina Kummer. We had a really amazing day and are already looking forward to next year. Even as a non musician I learnt so much. Thank you for helping Em in your master class and I know she is very keen to improve her embouchure etc. We would especially like to thank Eddie who fixed her clarinet free of charge. We bought some accessories for her clarinet and purchased a copy of your book - we are all currently reading it. Thanks once again for a really valuable and enjoyable day.

View performance of Bach at the Clarinet Convention, February 2006 (Quicktime required)

Selected Photo Gallery (for all photos, see separate gallery)

Les, Andy and Sharon

Les, Andy and Sharon

Les, barrels and bells

Les, barrels and bells

Will Watson of Vincent Bach International

Will Watson of Vincent Bach International, a valued sponsor

Clarinet Quartet

Clarinet Quartet play Wakefield's "from River to Stream to Sea" - Andy Roberts, Tom Jackson, Alistair Logan, Peter Fielding

Andy giving a master class

Andy giving a master class

Eddie Ashton demonstrates maintenance and repairs

Eddie Ashton demonstrates maintenance and repairs

The incredibly kind Kerry Long of Vandoren/Rosetti

The incredibly kind Kerry Long of Vandoren/Rosetti

Leslie gives a lecture

"I swear it was this big" - Leslie gives a lecture / DVD presentation on reed manufacturing and adjusting/ balancing with lots of free samples donated by MARCA reeds

"Battery of Basses"  - from the Peninsula choir

"Battery of Basses" - from the Peninsula choir

Contra-bass clarinet

"I bid a Contra" - the distinctive profile of the Contra Bass clarinet

Alistair Logan demonstrates Music@Site

Alistair Logan demonstrates Music@Site

Peter in action with the Convention choir

Peter in action with the Convention choir

John Packer LTD display

John Packer LTD display

Music lesson

"That there's music that is !"


Dr Diane Barger in Eb Clarinet Class

Dr Kowalsky in Master Class

Diane Barger and Frank Kowalsky

Student in Kowalsky Class

Student Ms Rosser and Kowalsky

Advanced student in Master Class

6 February 2006

University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s  10th Annual Midwest ClariFest

by A Review by Elizabeth Aleksander and Jessica Vansteenburg (DMA students)

 Lincoln, Nebraska USA

          The 10th annual Midwest ClariFest was hosted by Dr. Diane Barger, Professor of Clarinet at the University

of Nebraska at Lincoln on February 6, 2006. Over 50 clarinetists and music educators of all ages attended

this event. Dr. Frank Kowalsky, Joseph A. White Professor of Clarinet at Florida State University, was

the guest artist at this event. He has performed as principal clarinetist with orchestras throughout the

United States, and has toured as guest soloist with the Florida State Winds and with Trio Con Brio.

Midwest ClariFest activities began with a clarinet choir reading session conducted by Brian Alber, a Master’s

conducting student at UNL. Dr. Kowalsky then presented master classes with students before and after lunch.

The morning session featured John Borstelmann, freshman at Lincoln Southeast High School, performing the

Arnold Sonatina; Brynne Berner, sophomore at Syracuse High School, playing the Vaughan Williams English

Folksong Studies; and Alejandro Lozada, DMA student at UNL, with the exposition of the Mozart Concerto.

Featured in the afternoon class were Renee Ann Pflughaupt, junior at Lincoln Lutheran High School, on the

Weber Concertino; Jenny Rosser, senior at Lincoln High School, performing the Weber Concerto No. 2; and

Angie Maske, student teacher at Park Middle School, playing a Rose etude. Dr. Kowalsky used a non-toxic

marker on an old reed to illustrate correct tongue position when articulating; he also discussed hand position

for double-jointed students, the influence of the French and German languages on clarinet tone, the value

of slow practice, and bringing characters and mood shifts into the phrasing.

The afternoon also featured demonstrations of the E-flat and bass clarinets by Dr. Barger and Pance

Zaev, respectively, including an exhilarating performance of Giacomo Panizza’s Ballabile con Variazioni

aus dem Ballett by Dr. Barger. Following another clarinet choir reading session lead by Brian Alber,

the UNL clarinet studio and guests presented a potpourri recital featuring works by Messager, Rossini,

Sierra, Jeanjean, Artot, Grundman, Tomasi, Arnold, and Abreu. The day concluded with a recital presented

by Dr. Kowalsky and Dr. Seth Beckman, piano, also of Florida State University. Their remarkable

artistry was exhibited in Martinu’s Sonatina, Poulenc’s Sonata, and Berg’s Four Pieces; Dr. Barger joined

them for the recital’s finale, Bassi’s fiery Gran Duetto Concertato Sopra Motivi dell’ Opera La Sonnambula

del Bellini.

Next year’s Midwest ClariFest is scheduled for Friday, March 30, 2007 in the Lied Center’s Johnny Carson

Theater on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus. For further information, please contact Dr. Barger at

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Revised: October 13, 2007