2015 Chapel Hill Chamber Music Workshop

Spending the first week of June each year in Chapel Hill with chamber music enthusiasts from various parts of the country (and around the world!) has long become an essential part of my summer. Catching up with the phenomenal faculty colleagues as well as exploring a vast number of chamber music literature with highly dedicated participants are among the most inspiring moments I get to enjoy. It was also fun to be joined by the Larchmere String Quartet, this year's young artists ensemble, and we had great time performing Mozart's Clarinet Quintet for an incredible group of audience on the first evening of the workshop

with LSQ at the reception - intentionally looking upset for no reason...

Each year, I am both amazed and invigorated by what our participants manage to achieve. Mostly comprised of highly successful individuals in their own fields (and many who are retired), they display not only an impressive degree of technical and musical proficiency but a true understanding of the intrinsic communication through chamber music. The long hours of coaching, rehearsals, and of course our famous "marathon" concerts are exhausting, but I always end up wishing that the week did not end. 

Working with adult amateur musicians poses many different challenges than what I normally encounter with my own students. Serving past six years as a faculty member at the workshop enlightened me various ways to articulate musical ideas without being too technical and creative means to overcome problems and mediate differences. My aspiration of helping our participants (many of them now good friends) through musical journey is always realized by their hard-work and positive feedback. Below is an excerpt from a truly gratifying email I received a few days ago from one of the participants whom I share a great deal of mutual respect:   

"I have always enjoyed both listening to you – your extraordinary musicianship is complemented by a beautiful sound that truly exemplifies the “open inner embouchure” Don [Oehler, also my formal teacher] is fond of talking about – and your coaching.  You always wish to get the most out of the players you work with (even when constrained by the most rudimentary of performance problems such as those I have been plaque with, certainly in past years) yet you never give up trying to make everyone do their best.  You apologized one day for not wanting to make the sessions like a conservatory, but that is exactly what makes you so effective: you just have only one high standard."

One of the participant ensembles I coached at the workshop

More than ever, I am fully convinced at the immense power of chamber music to connect people and bring the best out of our collective mind. I am thrilled at the prospect of continue sharing this experience with many people I will meet through performing, teaching, and listening.  

Each year, I discover several hidden gems in our repertoire. This year, my dear friend and mentor Freddy Arteel, brought this marvelous work by the Flemish composer Piet Swerts.

2015 Summer Plan

An unrelated image taken several years ago in Minneapolis, MN. 

May 13-18 - New York City and Alpine, NJ

May 30-June 5 - Chapel Hill, NC

June 20-25 - Washington D.C. and Northern VA 

June 26-30 - Greensboro, NC

July 1-3 - Harlaxton, UK 

July 4-8 - London, UK

July 8-19 - Greensboro, NC

July 20-26 - Madrid, Spain 

July 27-August 1 - Greensboro and Raleigh, NC

I am looking forward to a busy but fun-filled summer! In May, I will be in Alpine, NJ and NYC, visiting friends and family as well as doing some consulting works. I was also invited to be an Artist-in-Residence at local youth orchestra in Murfreesboro and will work with young musicians there at the end of the month. I will need to find some time here and there to work on edits for two of my upcoming CDs (enahke's Piazzolla CD on MSR and Krehl's chamber music on Naxos) as well as a clarinet textbook for my studio.  

In June, I will return to Chapel Hill Chamber Music Workshop (my sixth year). Aside from working with many long-time participants and friends, I am excited to welcome my friends from the Larchmere String Quartet to be this year's ensemble-in-residence with whom I will perform Stephan Krehl's Clarinet Quintet, op. 19. I am also looking forward to performing a series of recitals in Northern VA (Lyceum Chamber Music Series) and D.C. area with Grace, featuring the world premiere performance of Peter Lieuwen's Bright River for Clarinet and Piano (the work we commissioned), as well as works by Bernstein, Devienne, Martinu, and more. Later in June, I will take up a residence at my friend Jacob's house in Greensboro, NC. with Grace, who will serve on the piano faculty at the Eastern Music Festival for the next five weeks. 

July will be a very busy month for me, as I will make couple of overseas trips. First, I will be visiting my students at the Harlaxton Chamber Music Festival earlier that month. You can read about this on my recent blogpost. I am also excited to collaborate with my friend and amazing pianist Sasha Karpeyev. Sasha will perform with me in Madrid at this year's ICA Conference in Madrid, and we will work on a number of projects (including our US performance in March 2016) during my stay in London. I have not seen Sasha since our time together at Norfolk Chamber Music Festival back in 2011 and am really looking forward to our collaboration. After couple weeks off in Greensboro, I will be back in Europe to be a part of ICA ClarinetFest in Madrid, where I will present the European premiere of Peter Lieuwen's new work for clarinet and piano. 

For more details and specific dates/times/venues, please visit my calendar page. I am much relieved that I will be back home in August to get ready for 2015-16. It will be a demanding academic year with 19 students and 5 senior student recitals as well as some major performance opportunities for me. Please stay tuned for some great projects planned for the next season!