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

2016 TTU Clarinet Day

2016 TTU Clarinet Day Group Photo

The following report was written by James Rutledge, my student and a Freshman Clarinet Performance Major at Tennessee Tech University:

On April 23rd, 2016, Tennessee Technological University held its annual Clarinet Day on TTU’s campus in the Bryan Fine Arts Building. The event was hosted by the TTU Clarinet Studio & Society of Clarinet with Dr. Wonkak Kim, Assistant Professor of Clarinet, as the event’s coordinator and leader.

    In years past, Clarinet Day was dedicated to local clarinetists of all aged coming together to participate in clarinet choir ensemble playing. However, in 2011, when Dr. Kim joined the music faculty at Tennessee Tech, Clarinet Day expanded and began to include performances from musical artists from around the country, master classes, recitals, guest conductors, clarinet technitions, and products from well-known clarinet manufacturers and accessory manufacturers. 

World Premiere performance of Jeff Brooks's "Life's A Celebration" by Wonkak Kim and Jeff Brooks, clarinets with Grace Choi, piano

Dr. Jeremy Reynolds Guest Artist Recital

    The event began at 9 AM with a word of welcome from Dr. Kim followed by guest recital given by Dr. Kim and Jeffery Brooks with Dr. Eunhye Grace Choi as their pianist. The trio gave a world premiere performance of Jeffery Brooks’ superb Life’s A Celebration! for two clarinets and piano. The program continued with an exciting performance of Marc Mellits’ Black for Two Bas Clarinets performed by TTUstudents Anjali Sivaainkaran and Nicholas Dickinson. The morning recital concluded with guest artist Dr. Jeremy Reynolds, Professor of Clarinet from the University of Denver by giving a phenomenal performance of Louis Cahuzac’s Cantilene, Bela Kovacs’ Hommage a J. S. Bach, and Malcom Arnold’s Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano.

    After the guest recital, all the participants were assembled in Wattenbarger Auditorium in the Bryan Fine Arts building for a rehearsal with the mass Clarinet Day choir lead by and Dr. Kim, and Ms. RoAnn Romines, clarinet artist from Knoxville, Tennessee.

RoAnn Romines rehearsing the TTU Festival Clarinet Choir

    Following the morning rehearsal, all the participants were dismissed for a brief lunch break, and were given the opportunity to look at and try instruments, accessories, and have instruments serviced by Jonathan Copeland, a specialist from Onks Woodwind Specialists, and Jeremy Brooks, from Brooks Clarinet Servies. 

Exhibition Area

Participating students trying out clarinets

    Following the break, clarinet repair specialist Jonathan Copeland gave a lecture concerting clarinet maintenance and repair. Copeland covered topics from assembling and disassembling the instrument to avoid damage, how to properly swab out and clean the instrument, and the topic of clarinet bore oiling.

Dr. Wonkak Kim Master Class

Dr. Jeremy Reynolds Master Class

    After the lecture, the participants were reconvened into Wattenbarger Auditorium for a master class sponsored by Buffet-Crampon. The master class began with Dr. Kim as clinician. Berean Christian School student Renae Dishman performed Concert Fantasia on Motives from “Rigoletto” composed by Luigi Bassi and Giuseppe Verdi. After Dishman’s performance, Dr. Jeremy Reynolds took the adjudicating position, and listened to TTU students James Rutledge, Dalton Swallows, and Sarah McMichen. Rutledge performed André Messager’s Solo de Concours, Swallows performed orchestral excerpts from Felix Mendelssohn’s Scherzo from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Johannes Brahms’ Andante from Symphony No. 3, and McMichen performed Carl Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto. After all the participants of the master class gave a spectacular performance of his or her respective pieces, the master class concluded and the mass clarinet choir met again for a final rehearsal joined with the Cookeville Community Band Clarinet Choir. 

Members of Cookeville Community Band Clarinet Choir trying out samples

To finish off the day, the Cookeville Community Band Choir, conducted by Dan Hearn, began the final concert. The community band clarinet choir began the program with the first movement from W. A. Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Edvard Grieg’s Norwegian Dance, Roland Kernen’s Gershwin Favorites, and concluded their program with Paul Harvey’s Happi Jazz. After the community choir’s exciting program, the TTU clarinet choir, directed by Dr. Wonkak Kim, took the stage and performed W. A. Mozart’s Overture to Marriage of Figaro, and Alexis Ciesla’s Fantasia featuring graduating TTU Music Performance senior Sarah McMichen. After the TTU’s clarinet choir’s lively performance, the mass Clarinet Day choir took the stage. The mass choir’s performance began under the direction of Ms. RoAnn Romines with G. F. Handel’s La Rejouissance from the Royal Fireworks Music, and Claude Debussy’s La Fille aux Cheveux de lin. Dr. Kim then took the stage as director for Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer, and Clare Grundman’s Caprice for Clarinets

Lena Fomenko, TTU Sophomore Clarinet Major, is awarded the inaugural TTU-Buffet Clarinet Prize!

Following the last piece, the winners of the 2016 Clarinet Day were announced. This year, a silent auction for a Silverstein Cryo4 ligature which was won by Cookeville High School student, Brianna Owens. Also, Buffet-Crampon was generous enough to donate a brand new Buffet-Crampon E12F clarinet. All contestants were to write an essay to be judged by an outside party explaining how this instrument would help him or her in a musical career. The winner of this prestigious award was TTU Music Education freshman, Lena Fomenko.

Final Concert!

Overall, this year’s Clarinet Day was a huge success, and would not have been made possible without the hard work from Dr. Kim, the guest artists, guest technicians, Buffet-Crampon, the participants, and the entire TTU Clarinet Studio & Society of Clarinet.

ICA ClarinetFest 2015 Madrid, Spain

It was a great privilege to be invited to perform at the 2015 ClarinetFest in Madrid, Spain. I spent a week of July in this beautiful city, meeting some amazing clarinetists and friends, playing great music, and enjoying plenty of sightseeing. My recital featured two American works for clarinet and piano: Leonard Bernstein's Clarinet Sonata and Peter Lieuwen's new work, Bright River (2014), with this performance being the official European Premiere. I was thrilled to be joined by my friend Sasha from London. 

After the recital with pianist Sasha

Excerpts from my ClarinetFest recital prepared by Silverstein Works

Grand Entrance to Conde Duque

I was also delighted that Peter (the composer) flew all the way with his wonderful wife attended our concert with his nephew who happened to be living in Madrid. It was the first time Peter heard Bright River being performed. I am looking forward to see him again during my residency at Texas A&M University in College Station, TN in September where I will perform this work again. 

Post recital dinner at a local restaurant, where I had a kangaroo burger!

Despite my unfamiliarity with this part of Europe, there was something very elegant yet approachable in this city. A great deal of vibrancy and wonderful foods...

View from my room in Madrid

Due to a last-minute absence by a clarinetist in KoMo Clarinet Quartet, I was invited to fill in the spot for their concert at the end of the week. I not only got to play some fun music, but was very fortunate to become good friends with Useon, Geonju and Maxine, all wonderful musicians and people!

@Madrid Conservatory with the members of Komo Quartet

Dinner at an extremely fancy restaurant in downtown with my friends from Silverstein Works, Calvin and BK (CEO and President) 

with Karl Leister

Among many other things I got to do in Madrid, the visit to Muso Prado singularly stands out. The museum houses some of the greatest works that are familiar to us. I was more impressed by its unique organization and distinct taste of the Spanish monarchs who curated the selections throughout past many centuries.

Muso Nacional del Prado

Special 10-piece Picasso Exhibit @ Museo Prado