Saturday, April 30, 2011

Vandoren Masters Mouthpieces

Vandoren has just recently released their anticipated Masters Mouthpieces. They feature a very different design in that the mouthpiece itself is a conical shape. This allows for more freedom in the bore design, making this bore much different from others offered by Vandoren. The shape of these mouthpieces requires you to use either the Vandoren Optimum or the Vandoren Masters ligature as no normal shaped ligature will fit. It comes in two facings, the CL4, for harder reeds, and CL5, for softer ones. Pricing starts at $140 at the DANSR website, and this includes a pewter ligature. You can opt for black, silver, or 24K Gold as well, but it will cost you $31, $42, or $73 dollars respectively. We haven't had any personal experience with this mouthpiece yet, but we are looking forward to trying it in the future.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Clarinet Prodigies

Prodigies have probably fascinated every musician at least once. There is something so bizarre and amazing about watching a child play with the skill and ability of someone much older. Below are some videos of clarinet prodigies. Of course we have included Julian Bliss and Han Kim, but we have also included Andrew Moses, who seems to be the newest clarinet prodigy around.

Andrew Moses, age 11

Julian Bliss - age 12

Han Kim - age 13

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Interview with Anthony McGill

To continue on my current McGill obsession, here is a great interview with him. It covers his history, how he came to get his job at the Cincinnati Symphony, and how he deals with stress and the like. Really fun to read.

Some Beautiful Anthony McGill Recordings

Searching around iTunes today I found several wonderful recordings of Mr. McGill. Besides his new self-titled album, I found many live performances of him. My purchases today include the Bartók Contras, the Schumann Phantasiestücke, the Quartet for the End of Time, and the Weber Quintet. All are incredible recordings and they are even more impressive because they are live performances. Anthony McGill is such an incredible player. Just listening to him is an inspiration for musicians everywhere. I really recommend adding these recordings to your collection! Click below to go to the iTunes store.

Quartet for the End of Time


Weber Quintet

Bartók Contrasts 

Anthony McGill Masterclass

I recently found a video of a masterclass Mr. McGill did at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This masterclass took place on January 14 and works with the Adagio of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto.

and part 2

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Interlochen Arts Academy: Pre-college clarinet at its finest

The Interlochen Arts Academy, located in the beautiful forests of Interlochen Michigan, is one of the finest arts schools in the world.  Interlochen has produced many notable alumi including Anothony McGill, Samuel Caviezel, David Shifrin, Luis Baez, Franklin Cohen, Larry Combs, and Sean Osborne. With its fantastic combination of rigorous artistic training, excellent faculty, beautiful surroundings, and top-notch facilities, you can not go wrong.

Interlochen's current clarinet teacher is the renowned Deborah Chodacki. Ms. Chodacki was a student of Stanley Hasty at Eastman and of Robert Marcellus at Northwestern University. She is well known as a soloist, teacher, and ensemble musician. Her students have gone off to win positions with the Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, "President's Own" Marine Band, and more.

Having worked with Ms. Chodacki personally, I can attest to the fact that she is an incredible teacher. She has a deep knowledge of the clarinet and music and is able to convey it to the student in a very natural, fluid way. Her ability to help the student discover new things helps them to grow very rapidly as a player. She is also one of the most compassionate and outstanding people I have ever met. She loves all of her students dearly and does all that she can for them.

The school employs an incredible staff as well. The teachers, academic and artistic alike, are top-notch. They are knowledgeable, caring, and willing to help the students accomplish their goals. The academic teachers work hard to incorporate the arts into their curriculum, making it more interesting and relevant to their students. They are also very understanding of artistic commitments, making a point to work around performances and lessons.

The campus is simply beautiful. It is nestled between two lakes and in the middle of the woods. Walking to class is always gorgeous, no matter the season. I remember many times doing homework by the lake. Theory doesn't get much better than that.

The buildings are also very nice. Corson Auditorium is a beautiful performance area and frequently has big events come in, such as the Vienna Boys Choir, the Russian Circus, and more. Dendrinos Chapel is also a nice, intimate space for solo or chamber recitals. There is also the massive outdoor Kresge Auditorium which housed a Jason Mraz concert this year.

As for academic buildings, the Frohlich building is a new building which houses the theory and composition department. The other academic classes are held in the three rotundas on campus. It is a unique and interesting setup.

The dorms are pretty nice. The rooms are small, but if you are practicing like you should, you won't be spending much time in them anyway! Each room as its own bathroom with a shower. Most are two people to a bathroom, but some are set up suite style with four to a bathroom. It works out well and makes things simple. Most of the dorms are not air conditioned, but you will only feel it for maybe ten days out of the year.

Each of the floors in the dorms has a counselor, which is a person to run the floor, hold events, and be there for the students. All the counselors I knew were fun, friendly, and loving people who cared about all of their students. It is a really good system.

All in all, this school is in incredible choice for anyone wanting to go into music. It is especially suited for the clarinet as Ms. Chodacki is one of the finest teachers alive. Attending Interlochen will give you a huge advantage when it comes time to apply for college and conservatory. Though it does all come down to your playing, if you work hard, you will leave this school infinitely better than when you came.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ricardo Morales signs with the New York Philharmonic

The New York Philharmonic offered Mr. Morales the position of principal clarinet back in October, when it was unsure as to what he would do. Today, though,  a spokesperson said that Mr. Morales has signed a contract to start in New York in September 2012. He will finish his obligations with the Philadelphia Orchestra before moving over.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Philadelphia Orchestra Board Officially Filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

We received the news yesterday in an email sent out by Philadelphia Orchestra chairman Richard B. Worley and President and CEO Allison Vulgamore.

The Philadelphia Orchestra is officially filing for chapter 11 protection.

"Our financial situation is serious and the simple facts are these:

  • Our operating funds are rapidly dwindling and will be exhausted by June 2011.
  • While the Orchestra does not have any debt, we are operating at a significant loss with a structural deficit of $14.5 million."
- Quote from the email. 

They assure fans and concertgoers that this seasons concerts will go on as scheduled and that the Philadelphia Orchestra will get back on its feet. 

They have a plan to get the orchestra in a better financial situation through more public events, more media integration in the concerts, and deals such as loyalty programs. This seems to be a wakeup call that orchestras need to start appealing to a wider audience if they are to survive in this society. Even if they are in the top five. 

Read the original email HERE

Read their plan for restructuring HERE.  

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Philadelphia Orchestra Board Considering Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Sad news coming out of Philly recently. The orchestra is operating at a huge deficit and is headed for bankruptcy. The board is on a media blackout refusing to answer any questions pertaining to the situation. If the board were to declare chapter 11 they would get out of paying musician pensions, making it easier for the orchestra to get back on its feet. The fear is, though, that musicians would go on strike if such a choice were made. A decision is hoped to be reached by Saturday. Read more here: ABC Action News

Royal Concertgebouw Offering 10 Free Symphony Recordings for Download

Head over to the Royal Concertgebouw website and take advantage of this excellent offer! All you have to do is register for their database, all free and you can stop the emails if they bother you. Beautiful recordings with such symphonies as Brahms 2, Sebelius 4, Dvorák 9 and more!!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Interview with Christopher Hill

Christopher Hill is an artist in high demand. Not only does he play full time as principal clarinetist of the South Dakota Symphony, but he also teaches, conducts, and finds time to run his mouthpiece business. Despite all this, Mr. Hill was gracious enough to grant us an interview.

When did you first fall in love with the clarinet?
"I didn't actually choose the clarinet- it was chosen for me. I wanted to play the violin, but my neighbor was selling a clarinet for $25, so that's what my parents bought my brother and me. I fell in love with playing the clarinet when I was in middle school. The school hired a wonderful teacher, George Balog, who played clarinet professionally. I was so impressed with how he sounded that I began to spend a lot of time practicing."

When did you first become interested in mouthpiece design?
"I was interested from when I was in 9th grade. I went to a masterclass given by Anthony Gigliotti, who announced during the class that he just designed his own mouthpiece. I was impressed that someone could do that! When I was in my mid 20 s, I met Everitt Matson, and was fascinated by what he could do to improve a mouthpiece. Actually, what he really did was make a mouthpiece by hand out of a Selmer blank. I took lessons with him on how to reface and revoice a mouthpiece."

How did you learn how to make mouthpieces?
"Matt would explain to me what he was doing, and why, whenever he worked on a mouthpiece. I would then go home and experiment, and show him my work. He would then critique what I did."

What is the hardest aspect of your job? 
"I sometimes have too much to do- I play in the South Dakota Symphony full-time from September to May, conduct the Sioux Falls Municipal Band from May to August, teach at a college part time, and make and reface mouthpieces."

What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
"The variety that comes from doing so many things. (Yup- the same thing I complained about in the last question!)"

What is unique about your product compared with other producers?
"I offer copies of both a Henri Chedeville and a Charles Chedeville, starting from blanks I produce myself from rubber that is a copy of an old Chedeville that was melted down and analyzed. I chose the particular mouthpieces to copy that I did because they had a warm, yet ringing sound. I am willing and able to fit mouthpieces to an individual player."

Can you explain the effect of different bores, facings, and openings? 
"The bore will affect the tone quality, but it has a stronger influence on pitch. Different players prefer different facings, so I make the mouthpieces in standard facings ranging from 101-120. I play a 104 in the Henri model."

In addition to custom made mouthpieces you also offer refacing services, even for older, legendary mouthpieces, correct?
"I do. Sometimes, they take even more time to get them playing than it takes me to make one from scratch."

What are your future plans for your business? 
"Right now, I am behind on orders, and am hoping to finally catch up! Once I do, I will actually start to advertise, and will start a website. I plan to add additional lines of mouthpieces."

Do you have a mouthpiece trial policy? 
"I will send 2-3 mouthpieces for people to try. If I think I have a good feel for what someone wants, I can usually nail what they need in two mouthpieces. Otherwise, I send three. They have three days to try them."

How does someone go about contacting you to either try/purchase mouthpieces or get one retouched? 
"It is best to email me"

Chris Hill Mouthpieces are played by such excellent players as Steve Barta from the Baltimore Symphony, soloist Alexander Fiterstein, David Peck of the Houston Symphony, Bob Crowley of the Montreal Symphony, Dru Devan of the Charlotte Symphony, members of US military bands, and many others. 

A huge thank you to Mr. Christopher Hill for granting us this interview. Having personally played Mr. Hill's mouthpieces I can attest that they are excellent and extremely well-made. Rarely will a player have the opportunity to work so closely with such an expert craftsman and talented musician. 

To contact Mr. Hill to try mouthpieces or have custom work done, email him at:

The Dallas Opera has a New Principal Clarinet

Kenneth Krause has won the position of principal clarinet with the Dallas Opera. Congratulations!

(taken from the Breckenridge Music Festival website)
Kenneth Krause is Principal Clarinet of the Dallas Opera Orchestra.  He is also Principal of the Richardson Symphony Orchestra, the Lewisville Lake Symphony, the Wichita Falls Symphony, and has performed with the Dallas and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestras.  He has recorded with Anshel Brusilow as a member of the Richardson Symphony, and with Howard Dunn and Frederick Fennel while Principal of the Dallas Wind Symphony.  Krause holds degrees from Northwestern University and North Texas State University.  He returns for his twelfth season with the Breckenridge Music Festival.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Yes, it's Martin again, but this time playing some Klezmer! Klezmer is one of the greatest genres of music around. It also doesn't hurt that it often features the clarinet so predominantly.

Giora Feidman is one of the greatest Klezmer players of all time. Check out his recordings for some great fun. Klezmer is so unique in that in emulates singing so well. It really is fascinating and has to bring a smile to your face.

For those of you curious about how to get into Klezmer, check out this article by talented clarinetist and professor at Miami University (Ohio). It is all about how the origin of Klezmer and how to get started playing it. Enjoy!


A new clarinet model has been added to the line-up on Yamaha's website. This new instrument, the YCL-CSGII, incorporates the same bore and design of the YCL-CSG, but includes a low E/F pitch correction key (vent key). This should make an already outstanding instrument even better.

Detroit Symphony Strike is Over

The musicians of the Detroit Symphony ended their 26 week strike signing a new three-year contract.

Read more here.