by Lara Mitofsky Neuss
Another successful week for the Lift Clarinet Academy, now in its third season, was held at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. Participants traveled from across the United States and Canada from institutions including University of the Pacific, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, DePaul University School of Music, and Queen’s University to name a few. Prior to their arrival, students were asked to set personal goals in preparation for the week-long festival. Once received, the organizers mailed each student their lesson assignments, quartet, and clarinet choir repertoire allowing them to arrive prepared and eager to bring their playing to the next level.
The week began on Monday, June 13th with an inspiring faculty recital of classical and modern clarinet repertoire. The Lift Clarinet Academy is directed by Dr. Wesley Ferreira(Colorado State University) and Dr. Jana Starling (University of Western Ontario). Each season welcomes in an established clarinetist and pedagogue who contributes to an already distinguished faculty. 2016 brought in Julie DeRoche, Professor of Clarinet and Chair of the Music Department at DePaul University School of Music. DeRoche is a well sought after pedagogue and is currently in demand for workshops and conferences across the globe. Having her at the Lift Clarinet Academy was a true privilege.
Daily lessons with academy faculty were provided and each student participated in daily quartet rehearsals, coaching, and clarinet choir rehearsals directed by Dr. Wesley Ferreira. Students were placed according to their individual playing levels and overall needs in topic classes that addressed essential clarinet-focused skills such as finger technique, personal warm-up, articulation, musicality, altissimo, and extended techniques. Evening classes focused on broader performance topics such as practice techniques, performance anxiety, and professional development.
As the week progressed and students practiced diligently in their personal practice rooms, performance masterclasses with all faculty were inputted into the schedule on Thursday and Friday. The Wednesday academy class on performance anxiety proved to be invaluable in helping students raise their comfort level while they took the stage to perform for their mentors and fellow musicians.
Social activities were considered of equal importance as Lift strives to achieve a supportive family-like vibe by championing the benefits of shared learning and team effort. Students enjoyed a hike up the beautiful Horsetooth Reservoir, an afternoon in downtown Fort Collins, and a barbecue in the park which culminated in a relaxing sunset.
The week came to a close on Friday, June 17th with an exciting student recital showcasing four student soloists, each student quartet, and a clarinet choir inclusive of students and faculty. Soloists portrayed their newly learned skills confidently performing works such as Brahms Sonata No. 1 and the Copland Clarinet Concerto. Student quartets performed works often considered to be daunting with clear musical communication and flair. An energetic performance of “Klezmer Suite” arranged by French composer Alexis Ciesla ended the showcase. Following the recital, participants were invited to a beautiful reception filled with bittersweet goodbyes and enthusiasm for Lift Clarinet Academy 2017. Stay tuned!