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

London 2015 Summer

Teatime by the Thames and the British Parliament  

Teatime by the Thames and the British Parliament  

I spent an inspiring week in London during the first week of July, staying at the heart of this vibrant city and working with my friend and pianist Sasha for our upcoming performances. I stayed at a flat in Ladbroke Grove, a gorgeous home with many fascinating histories behind. My host Eric graciously provided the ample space for me to stay and practice, a rarity in this part of the town. I also enjoyed tremendously my morning runs around the borough of Kensington and Chelsea with plenty of things to see around. 

The drawing room in my flat where I got plenty of inspiration to practice and rehearse

Hallway to my room

My room at the Ladbroke Grove

I and Sasha have not played since we met at Norfolk Chamber Music Festival back in 2011, but it was very easy to work together. We rehearsed on works by Bernstein, Brahms, and Peter Lieuwen exchanging many interesting ideas and getting them in shape for our recital on Tuesday, 7 July. It was truly a pleasure to play with the great musical friend but also have many conversations on various things in our lives. The recital was tended by a small audience, but we gave quite a satisfying performance. We very much look forward to our upcoming performance in Madrid as well as our further collaboration in the US with our violinist friend Emily Westell.  


rehearsing at the City College of London

at Hyde Park, Kensington

Recital at St. George's Campden Hill

Kim-Karpeyev Duo, post-recital

Harlaxton Music Festival, UK


The Harlaxton Manor

From July 1-3, I visited the Harlaxton Music Festival in its inagural year (launched by my colleagues from the Larchmere String Quartet), where three of my students from TTU were the chamber music participants. It was a real pleasure to reside in this amazing castle, coaching some hard-working students and playing music with them, too!  

Harlaxton gardens

The atrium on the rear side of the Manor

Coaching my student Anjali's Stamitz group

The cocnert venue at the Harlaxton Manor

My student Sarah working on Mozart's Clarinet Quintet

Sarah performing Mozart Clarinet Quintet

On Thursday evening, I also performed the charming "Clarinet Quartet, No. 1" by the American clarinetist and composer Sean Osborn with my students at the St. Wulfram's Church. After the concert, we all went out to a local pub in downtown Grantham! 

St. Wulfram's Church

My student Torey performing Mendelssohn's Concert Piece at the St. Wulfram's Church

Selfie with my students before the evening concert! 

Downtown Grantham

Post-concert celebration! 

All three of my students visited me in London after the Festival, and I took them out to a gastropub near the Covent Garden where we all had some great pies and ale! 

with TTU clarinet students at a gastropub near the Covent Garden

Harlaxton International Music Festival

Harlaxton Music Festival

I am extremely proud of my students, Torey Hart, Sarah McMichen, and Anjali Sivaainkaran, who are accepted to Harlaxton International Music Festival in UK (June 28-July 5) and named recipients of TTU's URECA grant ($2,500 each). They will travel to UK this summer to study with my colleagues from the Larchmere String Quartet and other international faculty members and perform some great chamber music. I will travel to Harlaxton as well during my London residency that week to work with the students at the festival. We spent many hours preparing the application materials for the festival and grants, and I am thrilled that all three will be able to make this work in the end!

Congratulations to my students, Torey, Anjali and Sarah, who will attend the Festival as URECA fellows!

2015 Tennessee Tech Clarinet Day

Last Saturday, I hosted our annual Clarinet Day at TTU. Although I face a multitude of challenges each year planning for the event, I feel tremendously fortunate to have wonderful colleagues, students, sponsors, and community to make it possible. This year, I asked my student Delaney to write a report to submit to our upcoming Clarinet Magazine issue and other newsletters:

A Report by Delaney Naffziger (pending publications by ICA Clarinet Magazine and WKA Newsletter) - published in this blog with the permission by the author

2015 TTU Clarinet Day Group Photo

On April 18th, 2015, Tennessee Technological University held its annual Clarinet Day on campus in Cookeville, Tennessee. The event was led and coordinated by the university’s assistant professor of clarinet, Dr. Wonkak Kim. In the past, this event has primarily consisted of local clarinetists of all ages coming together for a day dedicated to choir ensemble playing; however, when Dr. Kim took the assistant professorship in 2011, he began to reconstruct the event, keeping its community choir foundations but gradually expanding the event to contain guests artists, master classes, and a wide range of clarinet products available to be enjoyed by all participants.

Sqwonk Recital

The event kicked off at 9AM with opening remarks made by Dr. Kim and was immediately followed by the Clarinet Day Artist Recital. Dr. Kim opened the recital with the beautiful works Deuxieme Sonate pour clarinette et piano by François Devienne and Introduction et Rondo, Op.72 by CH-M Widor and was accompanied by  Dr. Eunhye Grace Choi on piano. The program continued with guest artist Matthew Miracle performing Shovelhead for Clarinet and Electronics by Steven Snowden. The recital concluded with the day’s main guest artists Jonathon Russell and Jeff Anderle, members of the San Francisco bass clarinet duo Sqwonk, who performed stunningly their works KlezDuo by Jonathon Russell and Toccata and Fugue in D minor by Bach (arr. Russell).

The day immediately continued with a full clarinet choir rehearsal consisting of all participants under the direction of Dr. Kim. The choir played Tarantella, Op. 102/3 by Mendelssohn, Introduction and Rondo by Gordon Jacob, and Clarinet Polka arranged by Eric Osterling.

TTU Clarinet Day Ensemble Rehearsal

After a brief lunch break, participants reconvened to watch a master class led by Sqwonk members featuring TTU students Sarah McMichen, Anjali Sivaainkaran, and Michaela Cundari. Jeff Anderle and Jon Russell worked with these students addressing many key issues which affect all players. Sarah McMichen played excerpts from Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream (Scherzo) and was encouraged not to get carried away with technical passages and to always remember that the goal is to make music, regardless of passage difficulty. Anjali Sivaainkaran performed Minuet from Bach’s First Cello Suite as Sqwonk members worked with her on remaining loose and relaxed even and especially during high passages. And Michaela Cundari played movement one of Sonata no. 2 by Brahms as Mr. Anderle had her and the audience work on projecting an upward airstream while pushing off with legs as well as practicing many different forms of phrasing.

Michaela playing Brahms Clarinet Sonata for Sqwonk

Anjali playing Bach's Cello Suite for Sqwonk Master Class

After another brief rehearsal with the choir, participants were encouraged to take a break and enjoy the various booths of the day’s sponsors including Buffet Group USA, Lohff and Pfeiffer, Onks Woodwind Specialist, Just For Winds, Silverstein Ligature, and Vandoren. 

TTU Clarinet Day Exhibition Room

Buffet Group USA

Silverstein Ligature Booth

At 4PM, the Final Concert began, opening with the Cookeville Community Band Clarinet Choir performing the works Three Baroque Dances by J.S. Bach (arr. Russell Howland), Klezmer Suite by Alexis Ciesla, New Orleans Medley arranged by Charles Rose, and The Chrysanthemum  by Scott Joplin (arr. William Schmidt). The concert continued with Sqwonk performing Bass Clarinet Double Concerto by Jonathon Russell accompanied by the TTU Clarinet Choir. The concert was concluded by the Clarinet Day Choir; however, before the final performance, Dr. Kim presented a plaque of appreciation to Tennessee Tech’s clarinet professor emeritus Dan Hearn for his unending dedication to the studio even after retirement. 

2015 TTU Clarinet Day Mass Clarinet Choir - Any clarinet lover is invited to play in it at the final concert! (Gordon Jacob - Introduction and Rondo - Wonkak Kim, director)

Overall, TTU Clarinet Day 2015 was a fantastic event enjoyed by all. Thanks to the diligent work and organization of  Dr. Kim, the event came together seamlessly and held diverse aspects enjoyable to all clarinet lovers alike. It was both an enjoyable and educational experience which is sure to have inspired all participants. For information about how to partake in this annual event, please visit the website at or contact Dr. Kim (

Cookeville Community Band Clarinet Choir

Another BUSY weekend for Buffet Crampon USA! We were at the Tennessee Tech Clarinet Day, hosted by Clarinet Artist...

Posted by Buffet Crampon USA on Monday, April 20, 2015

Here is an album of pictures from Clarinet Day at Tennessee Tech University. One of our PRO Team members, Professor...

Posted by Silverstein Ligature on Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Troy University Clarinet Day 2015

Troy University Clarinet Day's Artistic Team

It was a privilege to be invited again to the Troy University Clarinet Day again this year. I got to travel with Grace who was much busier playing for all clarinet artists at the event. I caught up with Jean-François from D'Addario and got to meet Jan Jakub Bokun, a remarkable musician from Poland. It was also very nice to see my friend Jeff Brooks who gave a stunning performance of Eric Mandat's work. 

Playing Ciesla's Fantasia Concerto with Troy University Clarinet Ensemble

I admire my colleague Tim Phillips's ability to put together this incredible event and being such a kind and sincere host. I had a great time working with his students and playing Alexis Ciesla's Fantasia Concerto with Troy University Clarinet Ensemble. It is very encouraging that many colleagues working so hard to share their talent and passion with young students in different parts of the country. These are very hard work on our own time, but the reward is tremendous!  

Great to meet some new colleagues and old friends!

One of the artist photos taken at the event!

The Latest from Vandoren - My First Look at V21

I was greeted by couple of packages from Vandoren when I returned from my recent trip to GA. This time, in addition to my regular V12 reeds, I asked for few products I wanted to try out, including HRC20 Hygro Reed Case, Juno reeds (great reeds for beginners and young students), 5RVs, and the recently announced V21 reeds.

My primary choice for reeds has been Vandoren V12 3.5+ and occasionally rue lepic (I have not used Traditional reeds for many years). Naturally I was anticipating some good results with V21 since it "combines the conical shape of a 56 rue epic reeds with a V12 profile" (you can read more about it here). 

It is very difficult to precisely describe the particular tendencies of different lines of reed. However, I will try to generalize the characteristics of V12 and rue lepic based on hundreds of reeds I have used over the course of many years. I find that V12 reeds have a very strong core that enables great focus, direct response, and intensity in sound. When the reed is well balanced, it allows both full elastic projection and subtle responses to great satisfaction. On a downside, I find V12 sometimes results in a bit sharp, edgy (even thin) sound with slightly abundant resistance.  Rue lepic, on the other hand, feels warmer, more even throughout, and more refined, but I miss the strong center that I enjoy in V12 (on a simplest term, it just feels softer than what I would like).

I was advised to try V21 3.5 and 3.5+ to my current setup--M13 Lyre. The immediate reaction was highly encouraging.

V21 Front Side

V21 Back Side

After playing for few minutes, I was convinced that the V21 is really a good compromise of what I wished to have from both V12 and rue lepic. V21 3.5+ felt a bit harder than V12 3.5+, but I could make both V21 3.5 and 3.5+ work for my current setup. To me V21 felt closer to rue lepic than V12 but with much improvement, particularly on its center and strength. The sound is very even and well refined. Articulation and maintaining good intonation is easy, too. I plan on playing both V12 and V21 for a while.  

Vandoren Reed Comparison Chart (from

Vandoren Reed Comparison Chart (from

Vandoren HRC20 Hygro Reed Case

Quick note on HRC20 Hygro Reed Case: these reed cases are super light and easy to use/refill (with humidity control). Check out a video made by David Gould at Vandoren website here.

I also found this wonderful Vandoren vest sent as a surprise holiday gift in my office mail. Thank you Vandoren!

ASO Cirque de la Symphonie

Albany Symphony Orchestra with Cirque de la Symphonie

This weekend was the second time for me to play with Cirque de la Symphonie, but it was still too exciting not to glance at the amazing acrobats every once in a while during rehearsals and performances, etc. A truly challenging endeavor if you are the musician! In fact, my very first concert after being appointed as the principal clarinetist of the Albany Symphony Orchestra back in 2012 was with ASO and Cirque de la Symphonie. With some really nice musical selections (including some of my favorites such as Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espanol) and great performances by the acrobats, I find these productions much more enjoyable for both musicians and audience than conventional pops or holiday concerts.  

I grew to really love playing with this group, particularly with the wonderful woodwind section! They are all outstanding musicians and amazing friends! One of many exciting projects I get to do with this group next year is a performance of Concerto for enhake called Thronateeska and Orchestra by Steve Landis. This project was initiated by my chamber ensemble enhake and Albany Symphony Orchestra a few years ago. I am really looking forward to the world premiere of Thronateeska in February and will certainly keep everyone posted about the concert.

Albany Symphony Orchestra Clarinet (and bassoon) sections!