Backun International Competition 2017

I would like to invite all clarinet students to participate and attend this wonderful event put together by the Backun Musical Services to take place on March 9-11 at Vanderbilt University's Blair School of Music, Nashville, TN. 

I am honored to play amongst some of the great clarinetists of our time at the Guest Artist Recital. I will also be presenting a master class at the event. Please follow the link below for more information!

TTU Clarinet Ensemble Is Invited to 2017 ICA ClarinetFest®!

TTU Clarinet Studio 2016-17 (sadly with some missing members who are student teaching...)

I am very excited to announce that TTU Clarinet Ensemble is invited to perform at International ClarinetFest® 2017 in Orlando, FL this summer! What an exciting opportunity for our students, and I cannot wait to introduce them to the clarinet madness! We will be premiering a new work written for our group, and we will collaborate with the bass clarinetists from the exciting duo Sqwonk from San Francisco. Please stay tuned for updates and details. 

Visiting Busan

Master Class at Silla University in Busan, South Korea

I had a brief but very memorable trip to Busan, thanks to my wonderful friend and colleague Dr. Useon Bryan Choi who organized a series of master classes for me. I have never visited this incredible city since when I lived in Korea in the 90s and things have changed completely since then. The nighttime scene of the port city was spectacular, and I very much enjoyed the view from my hotel!

A refreshing view from my hotel room

At a famous location for picture taking!

Students were dedicated and hard working. The younger students from the Busan Arts Middle and High schools uniformly had great technique and bought in highly technical works by composers such as Weber and Spohr. While it was impressive to see what these young students could do, I was a bit concerned with their lack of fundamentals and broader understanding of the music they practice so hard. My schedule was very compressed (with some of the most exhausting classes I've ever taught), and I hope the time we spent together was helpful. I was also grateful to many of the local clarinet instructors who came out and introduced themselves. I look forward to our future exchanges, and we already made a plan for me to return next summer. 

Dr. Choi's students at the Silla University also played very well, and I wish them my very best!

More Spohr... 

Silla University Student Master Class

Many thanks to Silverstein Works who sponsored my master class in Busan

A student's parents took me and some of the teachers out to dinner. Super fresh Korea-style sashimi is difficult to describe in words! I also enjoyed various delicacies in Busan with a great company.

Hwal-uh-Hoeh (Korean-style Sashimi)

Mil-myun (flour noodles served cold)

Desert with Ice Coffee

Desert with Ice Coffee

TTU Class of 2016!

I am extremely proud of my first full graduating class at Tech who walked at the ceremony today! They have set such high standards both musically and academically for the clarinet studio, and I look forward following up with their bright future!

Congratulations to the following four students!

  • Michaela Cundari (summa cum laude) will pursue Masters of Music at Middle TN State University on a full assistantship and recently enlisted as a clarinetist of the Air National Guard Band of the South
  • Sarah McMichen (summa cum laude, 4.0 in cursu honorum) will pursue Masters of Music at Michigan State University where she is a recipient of a large scholarship
  • Delaney Naffziger (summa cum laude) will pursue professional teaching opportunities in Nashville Metropolitan Area public school system
  • Anjali Sivaainkaran (summa cum laude, cursu honorum) will pursue Masters of Music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a recipient of the second year assistantship

University of Northern Iowa Reed Day

I had my first visit to Iowa, being a part of the University of Northern Iowa Reed Day. Kudos to Dr. Amanda McCandless and her wonderful students for organizing such excellent event. I enjoyed working with her clarinet studio and playing a guest recital with my wonderful pianist friend, Esther Park, who jumped in at the last minute, playing some Verdi/Bassi, Debussy, and Cahuzac with me. What an impressive facilities they have! It was also great pleasure to meet guests for other studios and their teachers. Returning home much inspired!

UNI Music Building

Post Recital Dinner with other Guest Artists

Studio Trip to NYC

TTU Clarinet Studio at Lincoln Center

I worked very hard with some of my exceptional students and officers of the TTU Clarinet Studio to plan for our 3-day trip to New York City during the spring break of 2015. Our proposal for TTU's URECA Grant was approved, and we received $5,000 to cover our students' airfare, hotel lodging and other expenses. In addition, our students successfully carried out various successful fund-raising campaigns, virtually making the trip fully funded. In the end, twelve students from TTU Clarinet Studio joined in the trip, made of whom have never been to NYC. Thanks to additional sponsorship and support by my colleagues at Buffet Crampon and Vandoren, our students had some tremendous musical opportunities during their stay. 

Freshman Clarinet Quartet performing at the Buffet Showroom NYC

Boris Allakhverdyan Master Class

Listening to a presentation by David Gould

Vandoren Musician's Advisory Studio

Boris Allakhverdyan, the principal clarinetist of Met Opera and newly appointed principal clarinetist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, spent two hours with several of our students giving master classes and coaching at the Buffet Crampon Showroom NYC. Not only we enjoyed many insights Boris shared with us, our students were thrilled to hear him later that evening at Met Opera's production of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro. I also took the studio to Vandoren's Studio on the 54th St., where students got to learn a great deal about the production process of reeds and mouthpieces and try them out. The final evening was spent on attending NY Philharmonic concert where they performed Brahms's German Requiem. What a musically enriching spring break for everyone it was!

A short stop by at Carnegie Hall

Students getting ready to see Mozart's Marriage of Figaro at Met

Our students after NY Phil Concert at David Geffen Hall

In numerous occasions, I served as a tour guide to our students, taking them to various landmarks of NYC and fun. More importantly, we ventured into some of my favorite stops to eat in Manhattan, including Shake Shack and Totto Ramen. 

Being happy at Shake Shack!

Some struggle in using chopsticks at Totto Ramen where they don't have forks, etc.

TTU Clarinet Studio's last minute lunch together in NYC before heading back to La Guardia

2015 TTU Clarinet Symposium

TTU Clarinet Student Duo Sarah McMichen and Anjali Sivaainkaran performing Poulenc's Duo for high school participants at...

Posted by TTU Clarinet Studio & Society of Clarinet on Sunday, November 22, 2015

Here are some additional pictures from last Friday's TTU All-Star Instrumental Symposium. We had such a great turnout...

Posted by TTU Clarinet Studio & Society of Clarinet on Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Very Proud Teacher!

TTU Clarinet Ensemble performing a Mozart Overture at the 2015 Fall Recital

This semester began with a series of recitals and performances for me, I was anxious to get through my high-paced schedule week by week. After our final Cumberland Quintet concert and BSO's production of Barber of Seville, I had a short break from the relentless performing schedule. My schedule then was taken over by my students' performances, all of which they presented with such spectacular results.

My studio gave a terrific studio recital back in October, featuring some very challenging repertoires. I am very happy to see both the continued progress of the students and new standards they set for themselves each day.

Fall 2015 Studio Recital Program

Fall 2015 Studio Recital Program

A student duo, Sarah and Anjali, was invited to present a lecture recital at the 2015 National Collegiate Honors Conference in Chicago. It's been a pleasure to working with them and delve deeply into Poulenc's Sonata for Two Clarinets. At the interview with our university's publicity office, I said "Their performance represented the high quality work we pursue at Tech each day and will continue to set new standards for their colleagues." You can read more about their presentation here.

Sarah and Anjali performing in at NCHC National Conference in Chicago

I am also thrilled to announce that two of my students were recently named Tennessee state winner and alternate of 2015 MTNA Young Artist Competition and Chamber Music Competition, respectively. Sarah, who gave a truly mature and heartfelt performance of Brahms's F Minor Sonata, Op. 120/1 and Donald Martino's virtuosic "A Set for Clarinet" gained the unanimous vote from all judges to be the first place winner. This is Sarah's second time winning MTNA/TN, and she will precede to the Southern Division round in January 2016 in Tampa, FL. Michaela who performed works by Bach/Vivaldi, Ibert, Ligeti, and Arnold as the clarinetist of Peachtree Woodwind Quintet (coached by my colleague Bill Woodworth) placed second in the Chamber Music category. You can view the complete result of the MTNA/TN Competition here.

Sarah with her award certificate - MTSU campus

Michaela with her Peachtree Quintet colleagues

Another Big News (updated on November 23, 2015):

Michaela Cundari just won the Derryberry Concerto Competition held at Tennessee Tech University on Monday, November 23. This is one of the highest honor bestowed upon the entire music student body at TTU. Michaela will perform Copland Clarinet Concerto with BSO on February 14, 2016. Congratulations, Michaela!!

Both Sarah and Michaela played amazing senior recitals this semester:

Michaela's creative Senior Recital poster: Vanhal's Clarinet Sonata, Copland's Clarinet Concerto, and Scott McAllister's "Freebirds."

After Sarah's Senior Recital. Her program: Mozart's Clarinet Concerto, Donald Martino's "A Set for Clarinet," and Brahms's Clarinet Sonata, Op. 120/1

Please stay tuned for some other exciting news to come from my studio!