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January 2009 Hot News

31 January 2009

Clarinetist Michael Norsworthy Featured in Japan-USA Musical Perspectives Concerts with Four World Premieres in New York  on January 31 and upcoming in Boston on February 7,  2009‏                                      

New York City USA

             Clarinetist Michael Norsworthy was featured in the first of 2 concerts presented by Japan-USA Musical Perspectives on Saturday, January 31 – 4 PM at the Tenri Cultural Institute, 43a West 13th Street (between 5th and 6th Ave) in New York,  and upcoming on Saturday, February 7 – 8 PM at Fenway Center at Northeastern University, 77 St. Stephen Street in Boston, Massachusetts.

           The January 31 concert repertoire  included Christopher Bailey’s SL III for clarinet, cello and piano, Lyudmila German’s 6 Miniatures for
clarinet and cello, Miyuki Ito’s Darwin’s Dream for clarinet and cello, Hiroya Miura’s Shore for bass clarinet solo (World Premiere – written
for Michael Norsworthy) and Ronald Bruce Smith’s Something Suspicious (Small) for bass clarinet and live electronics. Other performers included
clarinetist Meighan Stoops, cellist Dave Eggar and pianist Augustus Arnone.

             A dedicated and persuasive champion of the music of our own time, Michael Norsworthy has given premieres of over 80 works in collaboration with composers Harrison Birtwistle, Elliott Carter, Chris Dench, Pozzi Escot, Brian Ferneyhough, Michael Finnissy, Lukas Foss, Hans Werner Henze, Magnus Lindberg, Ralph Shapey and Marc Anthony Turnage, among others.
              As soloist, Michael Norsworthy has performed an extensive repertoire of concerti, ranging from Mozart to Ferneyhough, with the Aspen
Contemporary Ensemble, Callithumpian Consort, NEC Contemporary Ensemble, Pottstown Symphony, Soria Chamber Players, Southern Illinois Symphony and Symphony Pro Musica, while audiences have heard his numerous recitals in New York , Boston, Cambridge, Chicago and St. Louis.
Conductors he has worked with include Boulez, DePriest, Knussen, Levine, Muti, Robertson, Ozawa, Tilson Thomas and many others. Michael
Norsworthy plays on Buffet Clarinets and mouthpieces by Kalmen Opperman.  Mr Norsworthy is a WKA Artist VIP

25 January 2009

Performance of  Pietro Bottesini, Adagio and Variations for flute , C clarinet and strings with Valle Camonica Orchestra in Milano, Italy, with Luigi Magistrelli, C Clarinet and Elena Cecconi Flute Soloists, Silvio Maggioni, conductor     

Milan, Italy

        Acclaimed Soloist Luigi Magistrelli, Professor at the Milan Conservatory, and proactive Clarinetist in being involved with many Clarinet Competitions in Italy including the Mercandante and Viano Competitions, along with Flutist Elena Cecconi, performed the above rarely heard work for Flute, Clarinet and Orchestra.  Many unknown works like this have been played here and several other places in Europe to bring attention to their worth and repertoire expansion.  It is to their credit in bringing these kind of works to the forefront.  The previous day, 24 January, Mr Magistrelli performed the Mozart Grand Partita K361 and the Dvorak Serenade with the Haydn Wind Ensemble along with his sister Laura, another star clarinetist.  Many times, early works are performed on period instruments in which Magistrelli has a large collection that is used for performance.  He frequently performs with Karl Leister, Retired Emeritus from the Berlin Philharmonic and has several Chamber Music recordings released.  Luigi Magistrelli is a WKA Artist VIP.

24 January 2009

Ocala Symphony Orchestra 18th Annual Young Artist Competition with winners Violinist David Song, Conductor Dr James Plondke, and Jennifer Suzanne MaClay, Freshman at the University of Florida

Ochoa, Florida USA

           The 18th Young Artists Competition held with this Orchestra gave honors to two winners, one a WKA member and Freshman at the University of Florida under Professor Mitchell Estrin, one of the most important Artist Teachers in the United States and well aligned with the New York Philharmonic as a touring player for the last 20 years.  Jenny MaClay has been a rapid developing up and coming player with an example setting quality having studied with solid teachers, and achieving notoriety as a soloist winner in many earlier young artist competitions in the Southeast United States.   What is vitally important for any young player is the drive and constant awareness and follow-up of pursuing opportunities leading to a cumulative success, and Ms MacClay has achieved that, in attending diligently Clarinet workshops, Symposiums, ClarinetFests, and achieving the distinction of attending the Buffet Clarinet Academy at younger age as a High School student against the competition to enroll by college students much older than her.  More information with a Press Release from the University of Florida below.

        University of Florida Clarinet Studio

305 MUB

PO Box 117900

Gainesville, FL 32611

Press Release          

Contact: Professor Mitchell Estrin

Phone: (352) 273-3177


5 P.M. EDT,  January 24, 2009





University of Florida Clarinet Student Wins Competition

OCALA, FL, JANUARY 24, 2009 - Jenny Maclay, a first-year student of Professor Mitchell Estrin in the University of Florida Clarinet Studio, won the Junior Division of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra 18th Annual Young Artist Competition.  Ms. Maclay received a $1000 first prize award and will perform as soloist with the Ocala Symphony Orchestra at concerts to be presented at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Auditorium on Saturday, April 4, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 5, 2009 at 3:00 PM.  She will perform the Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E-flat major, Opus 74, by Carl Maria von Weber.

Ms. Maclay is a graduate of Sparkman High School, Class of 2008, in Huntsville, Alabama.  She was the only North American high school student selected to participate in the inaugural year of the Buffet Crampon USA Summer Clarinet Academy.  She has appeared as soloist with the Huntsville Symphony and is currently a member of the University of Florida Wind Symphony, Symphony Orchestra and Clarinet Ensemble.    


Performance of Debussy Rhapsody in Kansas City ClarinetFest

20 January 2009

Anthony McGill, Solo Clarinetist in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York, performs premiere a new Chamber work along with Gabriela Montero, Pianist, Yo Yo Ma, Cellist, Iztek Perlman, Violinist,  written by John Williams for the Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama                                   

Washington, DC USA

            A dream of incredible measure took place on this nationally historic day marking a new direction for the United States and solid recognition of the accomplished diversity of its citizens, and being honored on the highest terms in performing for the new President Barack Obama immediately before his swearing in as President of the United States on worldwide broadcast.  Anthony McGill, Solo Clarinetist in the Metropolitan Opera in New York, faculty at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland, and a WKA Artist VIP, performed a world premiere of a new work to be specifically played for this important occasion  “Air and Quiet Gifts” written by John Williams with Artist luminaries as Yo Yo Ma, Cellist, Iztek Perlman, Violinist, and Gabriela Montero, Pianist for an audience of over 2 million who came to this event.  More information is below to grasp the significance of this memorable life-lasting event.

At noon today, Inauguration Day, the precise moment when the Constitution stipulates that a transfer of power to a new president is to occur, Barack Obama had not yet taken the oath of office. Instead, he was listening attentively to the performance of a new piece that the composer John Williams had been asked to write for the ceremony.

So President Obama’s administration was ushered in with a new chamber music work by a living American composer. Classical singers have performed for inaugurations in recent decades. But to have a new instrumental piece played was most unusual, something that should gratify classical music lovers.

The cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who was asked by the inauguration committee to organize the performance, invited three illustrious colleagues to join him: the renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman; the superb young clarinetist Anthony McGill, a principal player in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra (and among the few black artists to hold a principal chair in a major orchestra); and the fiery Venezuelan-American pianist Gabriele Montero. The intrepid performers had to cope with performing outdoors in temperatures hovering in the mid-20s. Ms. Montero, especially, looked to be freezing and wore woolen gloves with the fingers removed. But they all managed remarkably well.

And Mr. Williams came through with a stylish and appealing four-minute work, “Air and Simple Gifts.” In high-minded contemporary-music circles Mr. Williams, the most successful film music composer in history, has endured much condescension for his work in Hollywood. But the best of his film scores are skillfully, artfully and even subtly composed. And he is a comprehensive musician who knows how to write for all orchestral instruments.

He got the mood right, I thought, in this contemplative occasional piece. President Obama, it turns out, has a fondness for the music of Aaron Copland. So Mr. Williams fashioned a work that evokes the melancholic, calmly affirming, harmonically open-hearted world of Copland.

The piece begins with a lacy, quietly searching melody for violin, soon accompanied by consoling modal piano chords. The cello joins in with a pensive melodic line that responds to the violin, while the piano gradually prods the music forward with undulant riffs.

Soon the clarinet enters, playing the first two phrases of “Simple Gifts,” the Shaker hymn tune that Copland wove into his beloved ballet score “Appalachian Spring,” using the melody as the theme for an elaborate set of variations. Though Mr. Williams riffs Copland variations closely, his treatment of the tune is distinct enough to come across as something genuine and personal. There is a jazzy episode, with pungent piano chords and flourishes for snappy clarinet. Then the instruments break into a burst of agitated, jubilant counterpoint, with the piano playing Bachian passages of busy 16th notes.

Eventually the piece turns calm again, and the music becomes reflective, with wide-spaced harmonies and quizzical, halting melodic lines does not end decisively but settles down and takes stock, for now. Befitting the occasion, it seemed like music of possibilities, with more to come.

Anthony McGill, a principal clarinetist for the Met orchestra.

He is Anthony McGill, a clarinetist who joined the violinist Itzhak Perlman, the cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the pianist Gabriela Montero. They  played a piece composed for the occasion by John Williams, perhaps best known for his film scores and pops conducting.

Mr. McGill, 29, was plucked from the ranks of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, where he is one of two principal clarinetists, by Mr. Ma, who was asked to help organize the performance.

“It’s the most wonderful opportunity, obviously, I’ve ever gotten in my life,” Mr. McGill said at a breakfast interview in an Upper West Side cafe near his home a week before the inauguration. “It’s just great to be part of something like this, as a person, as an American, as a musician.”

He continued, “If my life as a musician is about reaching out to people, being able to communicate music to the world and to people on my small scale — my clarinet playing — this is obviously such a gift.”

A month after receiving the invitation, Mr. McGill still seemed a little stunned. “I thought they were going to say, ‘Sorry,’ ” he said. Even when he saw his name on the news release, “I was like, ‘That’s crazy.’ ”

Mr. McGill is not a world-famous soloist like Mr. Perlman or Mr. Ma; the Met is only his second job, which he took four years ago after a stint as the associate principal and E flat clarinetist in the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. But he has quietly come to be recognized among colleagues for his sensitive playing and refined musicianship.

Those qualities stood out for Mr. Ma eight years ago, when he and Mr. McGill played Messiaen’s “Quatuor Pour la Fin du Temps” (“Quartet for the End of Time”) in Japan. “I was so struck just by his artistry,” Mr. Ma said in a telephone interview. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I really want to play with him again.’ ”

Mr. Ma said he recalled that sentiment when the organizers of the inauguration asked him and Mr. Perlman to put together an ensemble.

He noted that the group consisted of the same instrumentation as the Messiaen piece. The Williams work, however, “will be more like ‘Quartet for the Next Four Minutes,’ ” he said.

The piece evokes the music of Copland, who is said to be a favorite of Mr. Obama’s. “We wanted something that could reference America, the president-elect’s fondness for Copland, something that’s both uplifting and solemn, that traverses time but is also quintessentially American,” Mr. Ma said.

The musicians began rehearsing on Tuesday. They were not just thinking about the notes, but also about how to keep warm during the inauguration. Long underwear and hand warmers were on the agenda.

Mr. McGill is a product of the Merit Music School, a 30-year-old community program established to fill the gap in music education in Chicago schools. He attributes much of his success to that program.

His father is a retired deputy fire commissioner; his mother recently found a new career as an actress after retiring as an art teacher. His older brother, Demarre, now the principal flutist of the San Diego Symphony, was an important influence and role model, he said.

Anthony McGill attended the Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, Michelle Obama’s alma mater, and finished high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Mich. He moved on to the elite Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia for his bachelor’s degree, immediately winning the job in Cincinnati after graduation.

The McGills are among the few principal wind players in a major orchestra who are African-American, a distinction noteworthy in a field with far fewer people of color than other areas of American life.

Mr. McGill said that he recognized and valued the contribution of older African-Americans who integrated American orchestras. After encountering Norman Johns, a member of the Cincinnati cello section who is also African-American, Mr. McGill said, “I looked in Norman’s eyes when I walked in, and I could see how proud he was of me.” But like other African-American musicians of his generation, he does not wake up every day and think about his role. “If you’re a musician, you play music,” he said.

After the breakfast interview, Mr. McGill headed to Lincoln Center for a rehearsal with the center’s Chamber Music Society. The group plunged into the sextet for piano and winds by Poulenc, to be performed in concert at the Rose Studio in Manhattan later that week.

Mr. McGill played sitting back in his seat. He moved his upper body in sympathy with the angular, jerky rhythms, adding unexpected dynamic inflections and blending or deftly emerging when his part called for it. He watched his colleagues when they had solos, at one point rubbing the floor with his foot to signify praise for a passage by Peter Kolkay, the bassoonist.

Though Mr. McGill did not guide the rehearsal, he did speak out occasionally. He also took some good-natured ribbing about his next gig. Stephen Taylor, the group’s oboist, chanted, “You’re getting ready for the inauguration!” to a march tempo and told him that once on the inaugural stage, “You have to take requests.”



4 January 2009

Effortless Clarinet Ensemble Concert with World Premiere performed 4 January at St Thomas University, Richard Nunemaker, Director 

Houston, Texas USA

               This concert is the 3rd annual one held with Richard Nunemaker, recently retired Bass Clarinetist in the Houston Symphony and Director and Professor at the University of St Thomas in Houston with an elaborately high powered Clarinet Studio with outstanding students and professionals from this area.  As the galleried programs indicate, the program had a long range of standard literature and a World Premiere of a Nonette by composer from Houston Reynaldo Ochoa, who conducted his work as the finale to the concert.    What is important to the Clarinet Community is the emergence of such talent through these studio concerts which bring credit to all involved, and spreads the good of the performance for all to take notice. 


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Revised: February 10, 2009