Originally published in The Clarinet 51/1 (December 2023).
Printed copies of The Clarinet are available for ICA members.
ClarinetFest® 2023 Report
by Sarah Manasreh
ClarinetFest® 2023 in Denver, Colorado, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ICA, was one for the books, boasting record attendance and an abundance of concerts, lectures, and other events. Held at the Westin Westminster and Denver Marriott Westminster hotels, this bustling conference had attendees and presenters from 34 countries and 6 continents, holding true to its theme: “Our Global Community: Past, Present, and Future.” Delightfully programmed, this festival had something for everyone and welcomed beginners, enthusiasts, students, and professionals of all kinds.
Unique to ClarinetFest® 2023, and in addition to the traditional evening headlining concerts, were the standalone daily headliner performances “ClarinetFest® at Noon” and “ClarinetFest® at 5.” This, most enjoyably, allowed for a broader assortment of themed performances and musical settings featuring masterful artists. In addition to the spectacular headliner performances, many of these concerts featured sit-down interviews with Artistic Director Wesley Ferreira, providing a fresh new way of getting to know the music and musicians we enjoyed.
The ICA committees provided fantastic events that focused on the experiences of many. The Health and Wellness committee hosted daily stress-relieving wellness classes such as Zumba and Sulliman Stability Training. These were followed by expert somatic master classes. Each morning the ICA Clarinet Enthusiasts Committee hosted warmup sessions that welcomed everyone. The ICA College and Pre-Professional Engagement Committee captivated the audience with sessions on potential career paths such as chamber music, entrepreneurship, and professional ensembles as well as ways to prepare for these careers.
In celebration of the ICA’s 50th anniversary, many sessions focused on storytelling about the past and looking to the future. Clarinetists who attended and performed at the first Denver conferences told their stories in a celebratory session moderated by Daniel Silver. A roundtable discussion, moderated by Robert Spring, gave space for 11 ICA past presidents to discuss the successes, challenges, and experiences they had during their time at the helm. Additionally, ClarinetFest® 2023 was full of premieres and special compositions that paid homage to the anniversary while launching us into a world of fantastic potential.
Of course, a conference of this magnitude could not have been made possible without generous sponsors. The ClarinetFest® 2023 sponsors include:
Buffet Crampon, F. Arthur Uebel, and Vandoren
Chedeville, D’Addario, Rovner, Henri Selmer Paris, Silverstein Works, Yamaha
Backun Musical Services, B. Corbin Clarinet Products, Royal Global, RZ Woodwinds
ALRY Publications, Lisa’s Clarinet Shop, Midwest Musical Imports, United States Marine Corps Music Program
ClarinetFest® 2023 was truly a dazzling event. Artistic Director Wesley Ferreira and the rest of the Artistic Leadership Team—Copper Ferreira, Joshua Gardner, Emily Kerski, and Jana Starling—did a spectacular job building an inclusive and diverse program that celebrated the unique interests and abilities of clarinetists from all over the world. In leaving the conference, I reflected on the generations before us that paved the way, was elated by the current energy that clarinetists are bringing into the world, and in complete awe of the artistic and creative potential that has yet to come. ClarinetFest® 2023 confirmed that despite our different backgrounds, experiences, interests, languages, and traditions, the clarinet is the thread that pulls us all together.
ClarinetFest® 2023 Event Write-Ups: