ClarinetFest® 2016, Day 5: Texas Tech University Clarinet Choir

Report by Lisa Kachouee

Under the direction of Dr. David Shea, the Texas Tech University Clarinet Choir performed at 11:00 a.m. in Crafton-Preyer Theatre on Sunday, August 7. Bringing a diverse program of original works and arrangements spanning nearly 175 years, the TTU Clarinet Choir effectively displayed their versatility. The first selection, A Picture Book Without a Picture was composed in 2004 by Masanori Taruya. Depicting the city of Pompeii during the eruption of Vesuvius, the lamentation in the aftermath, and a reflection on the city’s past, Taruya’s work provided opportunity for the choir to exhibit both their technical and expressive capabilities. Following was an arrangement of Piazzolla’s “Café 1930,” from the Histoire du Tango. Shea’s choir showed great warmth and blend in their performance. Next, Robert Walzel, Dean of the University of Kansas School of Music and former Texas Tech faculty member, joined the choir as a soloist. Joseph Vasinda, a member of the choir, arranged Michele Mangani’s Pagina d’Album for the ensemble and Walzel. Again, the ensemble performed elegantly, supporting the solo line without overpowering it. Walzel’s background in art music, jazz and other cultural influences was evident in his timbrally rich, singing tone and subtle vibrato.

After the restraint and nuance of the Mangani and Piazzolla, Shea’s clarinet choir unveiled their facility and power in a performance of Mendelssohn’s “Saltarello” from the Italian Symphony. The arrangement was written by former professor at the University of Michigan, Russell Howland, in 1959. Requiring rapid, light articulation, the Mendelssohn was performed with strength yet ease. Twenty undergraduates, graduates, and alumni joined together for TTU’s musically rich performance.

Dr. Lisa Kachouee is on faculty at Oklahoma City University, teaches with El Sistema Oklahoma, and is a member of the clarinet and percussion ensemble Duo Rodinia. In addition to recent solo and duo concert tours, she made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2014 and has performed with orchestras throughout the United States.

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