Report by Jacob Lee
ClarinetFest® 2016’s Collegiate Choir was conducted by Tod Kerstetter and served as the penultimate event for the festivities on August 7. The program was part of Sunday’s series of clarinet choir performances dedicated to the late Guido Six. This year’s collegiate group filled the Crafton-Preyer stage to the brim. There were approximately fifty players performing in the ensemble, including a healthy number of auxiliary instruments (three E-flats and two B-flat contrabasses). The group began at 2:15 p.m. with a fun throwback to the ’80s, an arrangement by Kerstetter called the Back to the Future Overture. For those curious, the original overture was an amalgamation of three different scenes from the film. The vast majority comes from the iconic clock tower scene from near the end of the movie and the final mall scene. The spirited performance by the choir definitely struck a nostalgic chord (or chords!) with the audience.
The second piece on the program was also an arrangement by Kerstetter, in this case the clarinet classic Five Bagatelles by Gerald Finzi. The group did not perform the second movement, however, with Kerstetter explaining that the arrangement for the “Romance” was not yet complete but would be forthcoming in the near future. Of the remaining four movements, the third, “Carol” was a definite standout, resembling a Bach chorale in its texture and affect. The concert concluded with a Paul Harvey arrangement of Overture to La forza del destino (a “war horse” of a piece, according to Kerstetter). The translation to the clarinet choir from orchestra worked very well. Despite the tendency for many large clarinet ensembles works to have thick scoring, the Collegiate Choir successfully achieved large stretches of transparency and clarity – a credit to both the performers and Harvey’s arrangement. One of the group’s first clarinets admirably executed the original clarinet solo, an excerpt familiar to clarinetists entrenched in opera repertoire.
Jacob Lee received his masters from The Ohio State University and currently works as a freelance performer in the Columbus, OH area. Offstage, Lee has presented original research on French classical-era clarinet works at various gatherings including the American Musical Instrument Society Conference and the ICA Mid-America Festival.