Report by Anna Roach
The Richard Hawkins masterclass took place on Friday at 11:30 a.m. in Inge Memorial Theatre. Three students participated in this masterclass. The first to perform was Justin Best. Best has just finished high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy and will be attending Rice University in the fall. After performing the opening of the third movement of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, Hawkins started by discussing how the concerto is “simplistically difficult,” meaning it should have an effortless quality to it. He worked with Best extensively on the first three-note figure and emphasized the rhythmic stability and accuracy of articulation. Hawkins also brought a bit of Schenkerian analysis to Justin’s awareness to help him shape the many scales in the third movement of the concerto.
The next student who performed was Antonio Lopez from Portugal. He performed the opening cadenza and first section of Henri Rabaud’s Solo de Concours, Op. 10. Hawkins congratulated him on a wonderful performance, and then started by working with him on the cadenza’s style, something he described as a “forte with a pianissimo quality.” This brought attention to focus and evenness of sound and tone quality throughout the entire range of the clarinet. Hawkins also spoke about shaping each phrase ending before forging on through the next section, showing the great attention to detail required to play masterfully. Finally, he suggested to Lopez that he should practice his scales at pianissimo, piano, mezzo piano, mezzo forte, and forte using a decibel meter to check his consistency of dynamics at all levels.
The final performer of the masterclass was Ellé Crowhurst who came from Sophia, Bulgaria. She performed Béla Kovács’s Hommage a Johann Sebastian Bach. After congratulating the performer on a great performance, Hawkins began this portion of the masterclass by discussing her use of body motion while playing. He suggested that she might videotape herself performing to bring awareness to the amount of motion she was using. Hawkins also discussed the importance of breathing from deeper in the diaphragm to avoid shoulder movement and the subsequent tension that arises from it. Finally, he used an excerpt from Brahms’s Third Symphony as an exercise to help the performer develop a reliable articulation stroke. This exercise immediately had a dramatic effect on her playing, and was a great takeaway for the entire audience.
Dr. Anna Roach recently completed her DMA at Texas Tech University. She served as adjunct clarinet professor at Lubbock Christian University from 2014-2016. She currently holds a private studio in Oklahoma City and is a D’Addario Reserve Method Teaching Artist.