by Kristi Hanno, Abby Lloyd and Olivia Moonitz
The 2015 Belgian Clarinet Academy was hosted by Guido Six at the Conservatory an Zee in Ostend, Belgium July 8-14, 2015. Students and clarinet enthusiasts from Canada, China, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States and Thailand provided a diverse turnout. The academy professors this year were Robert Spring from Arizona State University; Eddy Vanoosthuyse, principal clarinet with the Brussels Philharmonic and professor of clarinet at the Royal Conservatory in Ghent, Belgium; and Deborah Bish from Florida State University.
A routine was established every day at 8:30 a.m. with a group warm-up class run by Spring. This consisted of long tones, arpeggios, scales and single-tonguing exercises, as well as double-tongue and circular breathing instruction. Individual practice, chamber music coaching, open-observation lessons, and a much-needed coffee break occupied the time before and after a lunch together. Each day at the conservatory concluded with clarinet choir rehearsal before returning home at 6:00 p.m. to the amicable host families in and around Ostend.
Each family provided a unique Belgian experience for their guests, presenting as many cultural experiences as possible through home life, cuisine and town history. There were many shops with waffles or chocolates around Ostend and beaches that the students frequently visited. After a few clarinet-filled days, the students were granted a free day to experience the area outside of Ostend. Many students went to the medieval city of Brugges, while others went to the historical city of Ghent.
The BCA ended with two recitals that presented pieces the students had been preparing throughout the week. The first recital included both unaccompanied and accompanied solo works, duets and quartets, all of which featured a variety of repertoire, including standards, many contemporary works and two newly commissioned works.
The concluding concert featured quartets and a clarinet choir program that performed Six’s arrangements of a variety of music, including traditional pieces, standard works featuring student soloists, a very jazzy dedication to Six’s new granddaughter, and a showcase of the students’ newly acquired ability to double tongue! The BCA came to a close with a reception that not only recognized the students’ hard work, but also honored each host family for their thoughtfulness and hospitality.
All of the students were grateful for Guido Six’s ability to organize and host the BCA program, for each professor’s kind willingness to share their wisdom, and for each host family that welcomed them into their homes. We look forward to another unforgettable week at BCA 2016!
Kristi Hanno and Abby Lloyd are students in the Doctor of Musical Arts program in clarinet performance at Arizona State University. Olivia Moonitz is a student in the Master of Music program in clarinet performance at Arizona State University.