by Joshua R. Mietz
Troy University in Troy, Alabama, is pleased to announce the successful completion of its eighth annual Clarinet Day on March 28, 2015, hosted by Timothy Phillips. Students from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Missouri and even Pennsylvania joined a diversely international contingent of guest artists. The artist roster included: Wonkak Kim (Tennessee Technological University) and his wife, collaborative pianist Eun-Hye Grace Choi; Jan Jakub Bokun (President of the Polish branch of the International Clarinet Association); Jean-François Bescond (D’Addario); Wojtek Komsta, barrel developer and repairman extraordinaire; Jeffrey Brooks, “Monsters of Clarinet” founder; Jennifer Tinberg (Troy University); Timothy Phillips (Troy University) and his wife, Katrina Phillips (Alabama State University); and Joshua R. Mietz (Casper College). It should be noted that Choi performed masterfully on all works with piano at this year’s festival.
The morning recital opened with a welcoming speech and performance by Timothy Phillips. He performed a work written in honor of his daughter, Little Violet by Carl Vollrath. Katrina Phillips delighted the audience with her fiery performance of the first movement of Muczynski’s Time Pieces. Mietz and Brooks shared a set of music by Eric Mandat with Mietz playing Folk Songs and Brooks playing Tricolor Capers. The recital concluded with Jennifer Tinberg’s performance of Cavallini’s Carnavale di Venezia, an arrangement for E-flat clarinet. The audience showed great enthusiasm for all performances heard on this recital.
Following the opening recital, clarinetists began rehearsals for the festival clarinet choir. This year’s festival choir included 70 clarinetists of all ages and abilities. Between sessions, clarinetists were encouraged to visit the vendor booths of Capitol Music, Rodriguez Musical Services, Lohff & Pfeiffer USA, Brooks Musical Services, Onks Woodwind Specialists, Mike Wagner, Hannah’s Oboes (clarinet division) and Wojtek Komsta. This event was generously sponsored in part by Buffet Crampon, Vandoren, D’Addario, Yamaha, BG, and Troy University.
Bokun presented an exciting recital to conclude the morning session. He performed Alan Frank’s Suite for 2 Clarinets with Bescond, Piazzolla’s Tango-Etude No. 3, Paul Jeanjean’s Clair Matin, Cahuzac’s Cantilène, Piotr Szewczyk’s Jay Jay Bee for Solo Clarinet, and Horovitz’s Sonatina for clarinet and piano. His excitement as a performer was only matched by his excitement as an educator, as he demonstrated in his master class later in the day.
To start the afternoon session, Bescond hosted a captivating recital. He performed Saint-Saëns’ Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Nigel Keay’s Allusions, and Bartók’s Rumanian Folk Dances. Bescond’s warm and charming personality was well represented in his work with the clarinet.
The afternoon master classes featured Bescond and Bokun who each presented some of their notable expertise and pedagogy. Bokun was particularly animated and entertained the audience with his often-comedic portrayal of musical characters. These gentlemen are truly outstanding performers and educators and we should all hope to hear them again in a live performance as soon as possible!
The final concert opened with a performance of John Mackey’s Strange Humors for clarinet choir and djembe. Kim and the clarinet choir performed Fantasia by Alexis Ciesla, and Komsta engaged the audience with his performance of Quasi Kwazi III for solo clarinet. Bokun and Bescond returned to the stage with Cervantes’ 2 Danzas Cubanas and intermission was preceded by Bokun performing Piazzolla’s Oblivion with Choi. Following intermission, the clarinet choir returned and performed Tango Maria by Francisco Tárrega, America the Beautiful arranged by Jari Villanueva, Charleston arranged by Jack Gale, and Sousa’s Hands Across the Sea, arranged by Ken Abeling. While the performances were stunning, nothing can top the joy seen in Abagail Wiggins’ eyes as she won a new Buffet-Crampon E12F clarinet. Buffet Crampon generously donated a new instrument to be given to one lucky festival participant. Many students wrote essays and after serious deliberation, the committee selected Wiggins as the winner.
The eighth annual Troy University Clarinet Day proved a successful event and showed both the high-level music making at Troy University as well as provided a glimpse of the artistry possessed by those visiting from abroad. Visit Troy University Clarinet Studio on Facebook for more information about this year’s festival and updates on the upcoming 2016 festival!