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

NYC Trip

I had a wonderful weekend in NYC meeting and catching up with some friends and visiting the studios of Buffet and Vandoren!

Me and Grace with clarinetist and friend Thomas Piercy

Playing some duets at Tom's apartment at the Manhattan Plaza!

It was a great day here at the NY Showroom! We had a wonderful visit from Prof of Clarinet at Tennessee Tech University...

Posted by Buffet Group USA New York Showroom on Thursday, May 14, 2015

Buffet-Crampon Artist

My own Buffet Artist poster!

I am excited to announce that for the first time in my career, I officially became an "artist" of some sort! Partnering with Buffet Group USA, the North American Division of the famous Buffet-Crampon Paris, I am invited to join a handful of remarkable clarinetists and colleagues in the company's artist roster. It is a great privilege to be associated with this prestigious company dating back to 1825.

A letter from the CEO of Buffet Group USA (and the good old Buffet swap) - some more goodies came in, and the pictures are posted below.

My first clarinet was Buffet B-12, a friendly horn made of plastic (or ABS resin, to be more precise) purchased by my parents when we were in Korea. Those were the times when I used to leave the instrument on top of my shelf fully assembled until the next time I had to use it. Each time I picked it up, I could see a clear circle on the shelf free from dust accumulated over many weeks. That instrument served me well for years to come all the way through the marching band years in high school. After graduating high school, it went to a friend of our family whose son just began to learn the clarinet. I wish I still had it...

When I came to the US with my family, I started playing in a public high school band program with great enthusiasm. I soon met my first teacher, Ken Lee, renowned for his successful private studio in Northern Virginia. With the clarinet becoming increasingly important part of my life, we both agreed that I needed a professional level instrument. Under Lee's guidance, I ended up getting a Buffet Festival and soon purchased an A clarinet, too (also Festival). Those remarkable horns made it so easy for me to explore clarinet's incredible range of dynamic and color and helped me to discover my life-long passion for music. While it took many more years until I decided to pursue a musical career, they certainly provided the foundation for my future path.

The back cover of my Rose 32 Etudes with the "Clarinet Family Tree" inscription by Don Oehler

When I came to the UNC-Chapel Hill as a Freshman, one of the first things that my teacher Donald Oehler did for me was to draw the "Clarinet Family Tree" (shown above). Oehler explained that our modern clarinet came into existence as a result of the collaboration among Theobald Boehm, Hyacinth Klosé, and Louis-Auguste Buffet. We (like the vast majority of American clarinetists) use the "Boehm" system, study Klosé's Méthod, and play Buffet clarinets everyday (Ironically Oehler plays Selmer clarinets). This left me with a deep impression, and my faith in Buffet's legacy and instruments was permanently engraved. 

There are extensive resources about the early endeavors and patents available now, and I wanted to share the following excerpts from Eric Hoeprich's The Clarinet (p. 172):

"Here Buffet allows us an insight into the concerns of a modern instrument-maker, reflecting the needs of clarinet players at the mid-nineteenth century. An absolute evenness of scale, perfect intonation, and a lack of technical difficulties were the qualities sought after by the modern instrument makers and clarinetists by the 1840s. There can be no doubt this is exactly what Buffet achieved. In creating his clarinet á annex mobiles Buffet vastly improved Müller's instrument, and it was not without a certain, possibly justifiable, arrogance, that he wrote:

"This invention does not consist only of the addition of rings but also of the manner and orderliness of the design, for a small change is enough to create an instrument that is superior to the old one, but it would still be inferior to mine."

Buffet Artist mug and folder

And some more goodies...

A fancy Buffet banner now hangs on my office wall

I now play exclusively on one of Buffet's newest inventions, Tosca Green Line. I purchased the set while at graduate school studying with Frank Kowalsky. At certain point, I knew this is what I really wanted to do, and I spontaneously drove to Jacksonville Buffet Factory to choose my new instruments out of about 15 pairs. The improved key work, intonation, and durable material base makes the instrument an ideal companion for my daily musical adventures. I feel completely dependable and feel a degree of pride in carrying out this great tradition since the time of Buffet and Klosé. 

I host the Clarinet Day at Tech each year with a strong presence from Buffet Group USA. Among pictured above are my former teacher Donald Oehler, Buffet Southeast Representative Donnie Todd, and the fellow Buffet Artist Todd Waldecker.