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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Please stay tuned for some other exciting news to come from my studio!
This year's studio party coincided (or did it?) with Halloween, and I must say we had a great deal of fun. We had some scary meals, watched creepy movie, and went out to join some trick-or-treat adventure!
Learning Frank Ticheli's Clarinet Concerto during past few weeks has been like solving a challenging but addictive puzzle. I was very fortunate to perform it with some wonderful students in TTU Wind Ensemble on Wednesday evening, and we had our best run at the concert.
I was very honored to find my picture in Tennessee Tech University Centennial Book published just this month. So many things have happened since I first join its music faculty back in 2012!
This year, my studio is joined by four excellent freshman clarinet majors (two performance and two music education) with one more coming in the Spring 2016. Four of my seniors will be out student teaching (residency). Two of them are planning to apply to graduate schools. The students will actively participate in our growing Clarinet Choir (the group had a chance to work with the Pulitzer-prize winning composer Steve Reich as well as the renowned bass-clarinet duo, Sqwonk, last year), clarinet chamber ensembles, reed-making class, orchestral excerpt class, and more. Please stay tuned for a major update coming up for our Studio Website (with individual student bios, studio and student recital schedule, etc.) and visit often!
We also have some very impressive programs! Here are some of the highlight repertoires that our students will work on and perform on various occasions:
- W. A. Mozart - Clarinet Concerto
- Aaron Copland - Clarinet Concerto
- C. M. v. Weber - Concertino
- C. M. v. Weber - Clarinet Concerto No. 1
- Louis Spohr - Clarinet Concerto No. 4
- Gerald Finzi - Clarinet Concerto
- Igor Stravinsky - Three Pieces
- Donald Martino - A Set for Clarinet Solo
- Paul Harvey - Three Etudes on Theme of Gershwin
- Heinrich Sutermeister - Capriccio for Solo Clarinet
- Scott McAllister - Freebirds
- Giuseppe Verdi/Bassi - Fantasy on the Theme from "Rigoletto"
- Francis Poulenc - Clarinet Sonata
- Andre Messager - Solo de Concours
- Wilson Osborn - Rhapsody for Solo Clarinet
- Henri Rabaud - Solo de Concours
- Robert Schumann - Fantasy Pieces
- Gerald Finzi - Five Bagatelles
- Saint-Saens - Clarinet Sonata
- Johannes Brahms - Clarinet Sonata No. 1 and 2
Our students will also work on the following etudes throughout the year:
- Hite - Melodious and Progressive Studies for Clarinet, Book 1
- Rose - 40 Studies and 32 Etudes
- Polatschek - Advanced Studies for the Clarinet
- Uhl - 48 Studies for Clarinet
- Jeanjean - 18 etudes de Perfectionnement
- Jeanjean - 16 Etudes Modernes
- Excerpts from my own soon-to-be-published exercises
TTU Society of Clarinet recently elected its new officers:
- Sarah McMichen, president
- Torey Hart, vice president
- Caroline Brightwell, secretary
- Austine Wilson, treasurer
- Delaney Naffziger, official spokesperson and social media coordinator!
The organization will help planning various fundraising events, a spring break trip to soon-to-be-revealed location, and the annual TTU Clarinet Day. Now, let us begin!
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!
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!
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!