James Gholson, who will retire as principal clarinetist, arrived in Memphis in 1972 to be professor of clarinet at Memphis State University. By chance, there was also a second-chair opening at the MSO that he secured, so for four decades, he's been teaching and performing. "It's always a challenge, but I've been able to cobble together a decent living," he says.
This weekend's Masterworks performances will also be a farewell performance for the MSO's concertmaster, Susanna Perry Gilmore, who has taken the position of concertmaster of the Omaha Symphony. She says Gholson has been treasured for his good spirits as well as the joy he takes in making music.
"One of my first memories at one of my first concerts here 15 years ago was with Alan Balter conducting Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, and I remember being very moved by the clarinet. That was my first impression of Jim: He knows how to spin a melody like only a clarinet can."
When Gholson was appointed first-chair clarinetist in 1979, he became one of the earliest African-American principal musicians among American orchestras, as well as the first African-American principal clarinetist at the MSO.
His career includes working with all four of the MSO's music directors, starting with Vincent deFrank. Later, when Alan Balter took over, Gholson says, "It was a little strange at first." Balter was also a clarinetist and, as it happened, there was a little history between the two.
"I'd known Alan Balter when I was at Interlochen International Music Camp, and I hadn't seen him for a long time," Gholson says. "I was surprised and a little nervous too because we were competitors at music camp." But they worked together well, Gholson calling Balter "cool and classy."
"When David Loebel came in as music director, we read a lot of the music literature," says Gholson, who enjoyed the new conductor's emphasis on doing new music. It was also the time when the orchestra moved into the Cannon Performing Arts Center. Since then, he's performed with music director Mei-Ann Chen in the two seasons she's been at the MSO's helm.
While much of the symphony's emphasis in recent years has been on reaching out to the community, it's something that, Gholson notes, has been around since deFrank's tenure when the orchestra played at schools, and in Balter's days when it played at different venues around town.
For Gholson, both as an educator and a performer, the outreach is essential to widening the audience. "The musical classics are so enduring," he says, "but in Memphis and in most of the United States, a lot of people don't grow up hearing them. ... (What the symphony is trying to do is reach a broader range of individuals and acclimate them to the sound of the orchestra and the intellectual basis and weight of the ideas used in music."
It's about conveying the passion for classical music to children, Gholson says, including "thinking about ways kids can learn about skill sets that make classical musicians people that have done well in school, who read well and people that are generally well cultured and good learners."
That's one reason Gholson made sure his son Christopher took clarinet lessons. Now 28, Christopher Gholson has carved out a name for himself as the award-winning record producer and rapper Drumma Boy.
"We'd talk about listening to the music," Gholson says of the days when he'd take young Christopher to orchestra rehearsals. "Now we have constant discussions and debates about some of the lyrics in rap music!"
The senior Gholson, who has a master's of music and a doctorate of musical arts from The Catholic University in Washington, also is author of a Civil War novel that grew out of his interest in that great conflict.
"Feets" is the story of a young African-American from Memphis in the latter days of the Civil War. Gholson has visited battlefields and has done considerable research on the issues facing African-Americans in that time.
And there may be another book brewing once Gholson closes out his time with the university and the symphony.
19 May 2012
MIKOLOW MUSIC FESTIVAL - 19 May 2012 PREMIERES CONCERT – CLARINET MASTERS with Krzesimir Dębski conductor / composer (POLAND), Dr Woytek Mrozek clarinet - (POLAND), Prof. Charles Neidich - clarinet and basset horn (USA), Karel Dohnal clarinet (CZECH REPUBLIC) with the LVIV PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA (UKRAINE) -
MIKOLOW MUSIC FESTIVAL 19.05.2012
PREMIERE CONCERT – CLARINET MASTERS
K. Dębski Landscape for clarinet and orchestra W. Mrozek clarinet (11 min)
Ch. Neidich Scherzissimo for clarinet and orchestra Ch. Neidich clarinet
O. J. Garcia El viento distante – na klarnet i orkiestrę – World Premiere W. Mrozek (12 min)
W. Mrozek Humoresque for 3 clarinets - World Premiere (5 min ) W. Mrozek, Ch. Neidich, K. Dohnal
F. Mendelssohn –Bartholdy 2 Konzerstucke for clarinet, bassethorn Op. 113 i 114 K. Dohnal clarinet, Ch. Neidich bassethorn (Nr.1 Op. 113) W. Mrozek clarinet, Ch. Neidich bassethorn (Nr.2 Op.114)
K. Dębski Concerto for 3 clarinets and orchestra – World Premiere (47 min) W. Mrozek, Ch. Neidich, K. Dohnal
Preparation of the entire program lasted for 3 years. Woytek Mrozek commissioned by the renowned Polish composer Krzesimir Debski new concert for three clarinets and orchestra. This concert is an extraordinary achievement. A brilliant and great talent of the composer, helped to create modern works which the world had never heard before. The wealth of creativity, the color of the orchestra and clarinest, the use of modern techniques of regulation, expression, drama and grotesque feature a concert for 3 clarinets. The work lasts 47 minutes and reminds symphonic poem for three clarinets and orchestra. The Concerto was written for the Polish virtuoso clarinetist Woytek Mrozek. Mrozek received many avant-garde compositions from contemporary composers. The artist for 18 years is just a solo clarinetist. He also created and still creates many new musical projects for the clarinet and the various teams. Mrozek is also a composer. On may 19th 2012 in the concert was also performed his composition Humoresque for three clarinets. Humoresqe is a work of great expressive in dynamics, articulation, glissandos and rhythm. For the project also joined Prof. IUOM in Miami Orlando Garcia. Gracia dedicated his song El viento Distante for Woytek Mrozek. The song in Garcia is completely different. Subtle form of the song used usually dynamic ppp-p. The composer uses a lot of different multifoniks and quartertons. St.Wojciech Cathedral in Mikolov was a great place for this work. Charles Neidich also presented his own composition for clarinet and string orchestra S cherzando. This work is very avant-garde and difficult to implement. The composition presents many interesting effects and clarinet sounds that other composers do not use. Maestro Neidich played her own compositions masterfully. It was a firework, which at the concert did not lack.
The beginning of the concert opened Debski K. Landscape composition. This song is amazing. It refers to the music of Debussy. The concert attracted about 2,000 people, who for almost 3y hours remaining in their places. The audience came to the concert from across Poland and from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Ukraine and Russia. Among the audience was about 100 clarinetists. The concert ended with a huge standing ovation and the president of the city Mikolow gave for the artists a great dinner, which ended at 4 am. Ch. Neidich personally found that this was an important historical moment. It was a concert of unusual and unique. Made for the first time new works for 3 clarinets and orchestra, and new compositions for solo clarinet and orchestra deserve the attention of the world.
The concert in Mikolov was recorded by Polish TV. As soon appear on Polish TV and international TV Polonia report from the concert with fragments of music.
Krzesimir Debski is a prominent Polish composer who is also a virtuoso violinist, pianist, and a celebrated orchestral conductor. Equally at home in the world of jazz and classical music. Debski is chiefly known in Poland for his numerous and highly popular film scores. In addition , he is also a famous as a songwriter and arranger, and composer of music for theatre.
Krzesimir Debski studied composition and conducting at the Poznan Academy of Music and since 1980 toured all of Europe and North America as violinist with the celebrated String Connection ensemble. Winner of the First Ptize in the International Jazz Competition in Belgium, Debski was also honored by the Jazz Forum Magazine with the Best Violinist and Arranger Prizes. Listed in 1985 as one of the 10 best jazz violinists by Down Beat Magazine, Debski had since then scored over 70 feature films, and numerous TV series. Among his more recent feature film credits are Ogniem I Mieczem ( With Fire and Sword”, In Desert and Wilderness, and An Old Tale. He also scored hundreds of episodes of popular Polish TV Series, including Klan, Zlotopolscy, Ranczo, and Na dobre I na zle,. His most recent film-scoring project in the USA included writing new soundtracks for the early short and length films of Charlie Chaplin.
In recent years Krzesimir Debski received a number of commissions for large-scale orchestral works from outstanding soloists and major symphony orchestras in Poland and abroad. His ever-growing catalogue of orchestral compositions currently includes two symphonies, an opera, ballet music, and eleven concertos for various solo instruments and orchestra. In great demand as conductor and performer, his recent tours included performances in Mexico, India, Brazil, and the United States.
Neidich (U.S.A.) Hailed by the New Yorker as " a master of his
instrument and beyond a clarinetist,
Charles Neidich has been described as one of the most mesmerizing
musicians performing before the public today. He regularly appears as soloist
and as collaborator in chamber music programs with leading ensembles including
the Saint Louis Symphony, Minneapolis Symphony, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, I
Musici di Montreal, Tafelmusik, Handel/Haydn Society, Royal Philharmonic,
Deutsches Philharmonic, MDR Symphony, Yomiuri Symphony, National Symphony of
Taiwan, and the Juilliard, Guarneri, Brentano, American, Mendelssohn, Carmina,
Colorado, and Cavani String Quartets. Mr. Neidich has performed throughout
Europe, Asia, and the United States, and is a sought after participant at many
summer festivals such as the Marlboro and Sarasota festivals in the USA, the
Orford and Domaines Forget festivals in Canada, BBC Proms in England, Festival
Consonances and Pontivy in France, Corsi Internazionali di Perfezionamento in
Italy, Kuhmo, Crusell Week, Turku, and Korsholm festivals in Finland, the
Apeldoorn Festival in Holland, Music from Moritzburg in Germany, the Kirishima
and Lilia summer festivals in Japan, and the Beijing Festival in China. When
Charles Neidich began studying clarinet with his father, Irving Neidich at the
age of 7, he had already started piano lessons with his mother, Litsa Gania
Neidich. He continued studying both instruments, but the clarinet gradually won
out, and he went at the age of 17 to continue studying with the noted clarinet
teacher, Leon Russianoff. After 4 years at Yale University where he majored in
Anthropology, Charles Neidich went to the Moscow State Conservatory as the first
recipient of a Fulbright grant to study in the Soviet Union. He studied in
Moscow for 3 years as a student of the clarinetist, Boris Dikov, and the
pianist, Kirill Vinogradov. Known as a leading exponent of period instrument
performance practice (he is the founder of the noted period instrument wind
Charles Neidich was one of the first soloists to improvise cadenzas and ornament
classical concertos. He has performed his restoration of the Mozart Concerto
throughout the world both on modern and period instruments. Mr. Neidich has been
influential in restoring original versions of works and bringing them before the
public. A list of the clarinet classics he has restored to their original form
includes works as diverse as the previously mentioned Mozart Concerto, Concerti
of Weber and Copland, the Soireest cke of Robert Schumann and the Andante and
Allegro of Ernest Chausson. Mr. Neidich is also an ardent exponent of new music
and has premiered works by Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter, Edison Denisov,
Helmut Lachenmann, William Schuman, Ralph Shapey, Joan Tower, Katia Tchemberdji,
Vasilii Lobanov and others. He has championed John Corigliano's Concerto,
performing it throughout the United States notably with the Syracuse and
Jacksonville Symphonies in performances many have called definitive. His
recordings are available on the sony Classical, Sony Vivarte, Deutsche
Grammophon, Musicmasters, Hyperion, and Bridge labels. For Aaron Copland's
centennial, he released the world premiere recording of his reconstruction of
the original version of Copland's Clarinet Concerto with “I Musici di Montreal
for the Chandos label.
Mr. Neidich has turned his attention in a serious way to conducting, and has appeared with the Avanti chamber Orchestra, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Helsinki, at the B??stad Festival in Sweden, the Kirishima Festival in Japan, with the New World and the San Diego Symphonies (in a triple role of conductor, soloist, and composer), and in Bulgaria with the Plovdiv State Philharmonic. Very active in education, Charles Neidich is on the faculties of the Juilliard School, Queens College of the City University of New York, the Manhattan School, and the Mannes College of Music, and has held visiting positions at the Sibelius Academy in Finland, the Yale School of Music, and Michigan State University. He is in demand for master classes around the world and for innovative lecture concerts he has devised such as "Old is New: how playing old music on period instruments is like playing new music on modern instruments," and "Craft and Drama: how understanding how Brahms composed makes for a more compelling performance." With his wife, Ayako Oshima, he has published a book on the basics of clarinet technique for the Japanese publisher, TOA Ongaku inc. Last Spring, Charles Neidich was the recipient of the William Schuman Award given by the Juilliard School for outstanding performance and scholarship.
Karel Dohnal (1973)- Clarinet , Czech Republic
He is laureate of many prestigious international competitions (Prague, Roma, London, Sevilla, Ostende, Bayreuth). Studied in Prague, London, Berlin, Hilversum and St.Petersburg. During his career up to now, he has given concerts not only in the Czech Republic, but also in many countries in Europe, USA and China. He has performed concertos not only of standard repertoire as Mozart or Weber but also concertos by Francaix, Nielsen, Copland, Penderecki, Tucapsky etc. with orchestras as Prague Philharmonia, Prague Chamber Orchestra, Talich Chamber Orchestra, Belgrade Philharmonic. Karel Dohnal also regularly engages in chamber music, cooperating with Tokyo, Haas, Talich, Wihan String Quartets, Prague PhilHarmonia Octet, famous soprano Edita Gruber and others. In 2009 -2010 was gest co- principál clarinettist at The BBC Symphony Orchestra London. He is a member of Prague Clarinet Ensemble, Trio Amadeus, PhilHarmonia Octet.
Last but not least, he intensively studies and performs contemporary music. His doctorate was focused on contemporary clarinet techniques. Regularly gives masterclases both in Czech and abroad. He has numerous recordings in Czech Radio and on CD’s. Karel plays on Selmer Recital clarinets and is an Selmer official artist. Since 2007 plays on Rico Reserve reeds and is an Rico endorsee. This season includes concerts with Chamber Orchestra Pardubice, Talich Chamber Orchestra, Berg Chamber Orchestra, Benewitz Quartet and apperances at festivals in the Czech Republc, Poland, USA, Peru.
Dr WOYTEK MROZEK
‘... since 1992 Mr. Mrozek has collaborated with the Yehudi Menuhin Live Music Now ( LMN ), giving many concerts. What characterizes his play is an excellent technique, remarkable musical intelligence, warm sound, as well as spontaneity and emotionalism. He has performed twice at the renowned Prinzregentertheater in Munich in official concerts in the presence of Lord Yehudi Menuhin and Professor August Everding. I strongly recommend Mr. Mrozek to all colleagues, impresarios and sponsors, not only for his outstanding qualifications but also because of his authentic and agreeable manner “.
( Yehudi Menuhin , Munich 10 March 1997 )“…. The performance by the clarinetist Woytek Mrozek was most fascinating. He is quite well known Bavaria …. He has matured into a much sought-after virtuoso of an international format. In Music Festival in Iffeldorf - Germany he presented himself as an excellent chamber musican and charismatic soloist with a fantastic sound and wide spectrum of expression”.
(Süddeutsche Zeitung, Munich 22 June 1998 )
One of the most eminent contemporary clarinettist, consistently going beyond the traditional attitude towards the musician’s profession – the instrumentalist extending the range of his creative activity almost every month.
The artist, famous for unconventional ideas and unrestrained imagination, continuously looks for new means of expression. With characteristic dynamics, he goes beyond conventions that divide music into popular and elitist music; in his amazing projects he combines the roles as an all-round instrumentalist, composer, arranger and conductor.
He commenced clarinet at age 15 and, from the age of 17, began concertising with the Pomeranian Philharmony Orchestra. He studied in the Warsaw Music Academy, after completion of which, continued learning in Master Classes in Munich Hochschule für Musik.
He was the winner of the prestigious International Clarinet Competition, in Poznan, and the First Prize at the Interacademic Clarinet Competition in Munich - Geramany. The German Federal Government, awarderd him a bursary for 2 years’ study, and the Yamaha Foundation for remarkably talented artists gave him a scholarship.
Since 1998, Mr. Mrozek has been associated with the record producers KOCH International München. In November 1999 Mrozek played a concert in the National Theater in Warsaw with the Violin Virtuoso - Niggel Kennedy.
Since 2003, he has been the artistic director of the International Music Festival in Sandomierz, where in 2007 he was granted the title of eminence – ”The Honorary Citizen and Patron of Culture of Sandomierz Land” for his actions aimed at propagation of culture and for his composition of the Grand Paps Mass - in 15 Movements for John Paul II, commissioned by the Polish Government, to commemorate 1000 years of the Polish Catholic Church – “Missa Solemnis Sandomiriensis – Beati Mundo Corde” ( “Blessed Are the Pure in Heart”).
Woytek Mrozek mastery of the instrument as well as extraordinary gift for music enables him to co-operate with excellent and world-known Orchestras and Artists such all Polish Philharmonic Orchestras and Artists: Sinfonia Varsovia, Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, Capella Bydgostiensis, Leopoldinum Orchestra, Polish Nationaly Radio Orchestra in Warsaw, National Philharmonic Orchestra in Warsaw, Camerata String Quartet, Prima Vista String Quartet, Henschel String Quartet, Prag String Quartet.
Artists - K. A. Kulka, A. Ratusinski, K. Herdzin, K. Debski, M. Nesterowicz, A. Jagodzinski, Z. Namyslowski, W. Niedziela, J. Niedziela, E. Bem, B. Harasimowicz, Agata Sava, and with the Berlin Chamber Orchestra, Europa Union Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra Sinfonica Santiago de Chile, Ukrainian National Symphony Orchestra Kiev, Philharmonic Orchestra Lviv, Moscau Virtuoso Orchestra, Classic Avangarde Orchestra –Minsk, and more, artists – Eddie Daniels, Charles Naidich, Niggel Kennedy, Aleksandro Jusakos Mardones and more.
In the years 2002 – 2006, he was the main conductor of the Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Leopolis – Lviv Ukraina. He made his conductorial debut in Paris, where the artist was offered, besides concerts, recording of the first ever CD for the Parish music company EROL with the repertoire: Dvorak and Tchaikovsky – Serenades for strings.
Woytek Mrozek permanently gives concerts all over the world: Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, South America, and North America. He participates in many international music festivals, as well as TV programs and recordings for radio stations in Europa.
Since 2007, he has been managing the clarinet class at the Frederick Chopin University of Music in Warsaw at the instrumental-pedagogical faculty in Bialystok. Since 2010, he has been a doctor of musical arts - clarinet.
Among the compositions, the following are particularly worth mentioning:
Missa Solemnis Sandomiriensis – “Beati Mundo Corde” - for Symphony Orchestra, Choir, 5 Soloists
Kantata Culmiensis - for Strings, Harp, Violin solo, Trumpet solo and Mezzosoprano
Gaude Mater Polonia - for Symphony Orchestra, Choir, 5 Soloists
Totus Tuus - for Symphony Orchestra, Choir, 5 Soloists
Symphony nr 1 “Galileo” - for Symphony Orchestra, Choir, Soloist
Clarinet concerto nr 1
Dances for clarinet solo and Symphony Orchestra
7 Pieces for Clarinet Solo
Humoresque for 3 clarinets and orchestra
Woytek Mrozek Premieres:
Witold Rudziński Sonata Plejady (Munich 1993) – recorded for Bayerische Rundfunk
Harald Heilman Clarinet Quintet (Munich 1998)
Krzesimir Dębski Clarinet Concerto (Warsaw 2000)
Krzesimir Dębski Landscape for Clarinet and Orchestra (Warsaw 2001)
Bohdana Frolyak Concerto for clarinet, piano, cello and orchestra (Lviv, Kijew 2002)
Bohdana Frolyak Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra ( Kiev 2005 )
Krzesimir Debski Concerto for 3 Clarinets and Orchestra ( 19.05.2012) with dr Woytek Mrozek, Prof. Charles Neidich, Karel Dohnal
Woytek Mrozek Humoresque for 3 clarinets and orchestra ( 19.05.2012) with dr Woytek Mrozek, Prof. Charles Neidich, Karel Dohnal
O. J. Garsia El viento distante for clarinet and orchestra (19.05.2012)
Letters of Recommendations:
Sir Yehudi Menuhin / Prince Biron von Curland / Ms Susan Strauss / Prof. Gerd Starke/
Krzesimir Dębski / Prof. L. Kurkiewicz / Eddie Daniels / Wojciech Kilar /
He has recorded 27 CD’s, and 8 DVD’s