Friday, December 7, 2012

Forestone Reeds

Above are some recordings I made comparing the legato and articulation of the Forestone to those of the Vandoren V12. The answers are at the bottom of this post. More recordings from other players are available on the Forestone website HERE. 

As a clarinet player, I am always on the lookout for ways to make what I do easier. The dream of every reed player is the perfect reed; a reed that could be produced with complete consistency while still maintaining a beautiful sound and great response. Since this cannot be accomplished with traditional cane reeds we are relient on the synthetic reed industry for the realization of this dream.

I recently had the opportunity to experiment with some of Forestone's new Premium Cut synthetic reeds. These reeds retail for $30.95 and are available direct from Forestone's Website HERE.  There are things I like about these reeds. For one, they are extremely consistent due to their proprietary injection molding process which allows them to achieve a tip thickness of 0.1mm. They are also unaffected by humidity and require no soaking. This is true of all synthetic reeds, but what makes the Forestone unique is their use of real wood fiber in the reed, 50% of which comes from bamboo.

I disliked the response I experienced from the reeds. I tried different reed thicknesses on a few different mouthpieces and still never felt secure in my articulation or legato. I also found the tone to be thuddy with unwanted overtones and chirps that would sporadically happen when switching registers or tonguing.

Though these issues have been greatly improved since the original Forestone cut, they are still problems that will keep the Forestone from becoming my main reed. I could see relying on them for outdoor concerts or other occasions when humidity can really be an issue, but while reeds have come a long way in this area, they are still not, in my experience, anywhere near where I could play them as a viable alternative to a real cane reed. I will keep my eye on Forestone and other makers as they continue to perfect their design in the hope that someday, there will truly be a perfect reed.

Articulation A - Forestone
Articulation B - V12
Legato A - V12
Legato B - Forestone

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pilgerstorfer Reeds

I have recently discovered a new brand of reed by the name of Pilgerstorfer. 

Pilgerstorfer, an Austrian company, produces three different cuts of French-style reeds. The Dolce, Rondo, and Morre. I tried several strengths of each cut and determined that the dolce is the closest to the V12s I am currently using. I found them to be very consistent and they produced a nice, mellow tone. They also play very well straight out of the box. I did notice that they seem to be lacking some of the depth I find in my V12s as well as possessing a somewhat slower articulation, but overall they are wonderful reeds. I would definitely recommend giving them a try. If you are interested, you can purchase the reeds from Clark Fobes, who is the only US retailer of the reeds. He even provides a sample box with reeds from all three cuts in the same strength if you are interested in comparing for yourself. Only time will tell if they will replace my trusty V12s, but they are definitely a contender. 

Buy reeds HERE

Pilgerstorfer website HERE

Sunday, September 30, 2012

New York Phil Opening Gala: PBS on Demand

The full video of Thursday's concert can be seen below. Enjoy!

Watch New York Philharmonic Opening Gala with Itzhak Perlman on PBS. See more from pbs.

Pines of Rome: Anthony McGill performs with the New York Philharmonic

Watch the New York Philharmonic perform Pines of Rome from Thursday's concert. Anthony McGill, as always, sounds INCREDIBLE. Skip to around 9:00 to hear some of the most masterful clarinet playing you can imagine.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Masterclass with Robert Marcellus: an audio recording

Below is a recording made in 1982 of a masterclass with Robert Marcellus from the beginning of his summer sessions at Northwestern University. It is incredible to hear the voice and teachings of such a renowned performer and pedagogue. Enjoy!

The Reed Workshop: Reed Making Overview

Joseph LeBlanc, clarinetist in the DC area and creator of the incredible Metronome Plus app, has a new website dedicated to reed making. The Reed Workshop is a great resource for prospective/beginning reed makers as well as those with years of experience. You will find a full range of reed-making equipment as well as tips and tutorial videos to aid you along the way.

Below is a video with an overview of at-home reed making:

The Reed Workshop website can be found HERE.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hearing music for the first time: a deaf man's story

Austin Chapman was born almost entirely deaf. Through the use of hearings aids he was able to discern some sounds, but nothing that made music special to him: 

"My whole life I’ve seen hearing people make a fool of themselves singing their favorite song or gyrating on the dance floor. I’ve also seen hearing people moved to tears by a single song. That was the hardest thing for me to wrap my head around.”

Through the help of an upgraded hearing aid (Phonak’s Naída S Premium) he was able to experience music for the first time. Below is his reaction to first hearing Mozart's Lacrimosa:
"Being able to hear the music for the first time ever was unreal.
When Mozart’s Lacrimosa came on, I was blown away by the beauty of it. At one point of the song, it sounded like angels singing and I suddenly realized that this was the first time I was able to appreciate music. Tears rolled down my face and I tried to hide it. But when I looked over I saw that there wasn’t a dry eye in the car."

The full story can be found HERE. (via The Atlantic)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Atlanta Symphony Contract Deadline Passes: What is next?

As the current contract with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra musicians expired on August 25, 2012, no deal had yet been reached in the ongoing negotiations between orchestra musicians and management. Management refused the deal proposed by the musicians suggesting that all orchestra employees take an 11% cut in pay, the result of which would have been a $5 million savings over the next two years. 

The orchestra is scheduled to open its new season on October 4th, if a new deal is reached in time. The Atlanta Symphony Website stated: 

“While the current contract between the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Atlanta Federation of Musicians expired on August 25, 2012, both parties are continuing to work towards a solution. Negotiations are ongoing. We have some serious budget issues to address but we are all striving for the same thing — a thriving music community.”

Musicians are fearful of a lockout which would leave them without pay and health benefits. Atlanta Symphony president, Stanley Romanstein, denies that this will happen, but Donald Fox, vice president of business operations, stated in a letter to musicians that they have no authority to continue to receive benefits past the time of the current contract's expiration. 

What is next? Could there be a strike in store? 

Full article HERE

Detailed information about negotiations can be found HERE. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Atlanta Symphony: new proposal includes pay cuts for musicians and staff

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, with a debt that could reach $20 million by 2013, has agreed to an 11% cut in player compensation with the requirement that orchestra staff and management take an equal cut in pay. If officials agree to this decision, the orchestra would stand to save around $5 million over the next two years, more than the $3.1 million reduction demanded by orchestra management. It will be interesting to see how the management responds to this proposal.

I personally feel it is only fair that all involved make a sacrifice to keep this organization afloat.

Full article HERE.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Atlanta Symphony struggles keep and attract top musicians

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has been having trouble attracting and retaining the high-level musicians that are necessary for the orchestra to keep its status as one of the nation's finest.

A proposed 25% pay cut, in addition to prior concessions, is prompting current members of the orchestra to seek out other opportunities and has caused a major drop in audition turnouts with a recent audition only showing 1/3 of the usual turnout, with no winner chosen.

To make matters worse, the proposed pay cut is being forced upon the musicians by symphony executives who are threatening to take away the musicians' health and dental insurance if they don't agree to the new measure by August 25th.

Full article available via Arts Journal HERE.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Some beautiful photos of the new Buffet "Divine" Clarinet

Below are some beautiful photos taken from, one of the few places the Divine is available. Their website is HERE and it's being sold for around $6800. (5522€)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Metronome+ Lite: Free download of incredible metronome app

Metronome+, the sleek, simple, and feature-packed metronome app (which is also my personal favorite) is now being offered up in a FREE "lite" version. This version contains many features including some of the loudest sounds on an Apple device (for loud rehearsals), a tempo scroll wheel, a range of 30-300 bpm, and a clear pendulum animation.

You can also get the full version for $1.99 (a steal!) which includes even more features such as the ability to run the metronome in the background (multitasking), do tap-tempo, as well as customizable sounds, beat patterns, and accents. Metronome+ is also constantly being updated with new features and if you own the app all updates are FREE. I have been using this app for a long time now and I can say that it is the best I have used. I really recommend giving it a try!

Download the "lite" version HERE.

Download the full version HERE.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Philadelphia Orchestra emerges from bankruptcy

The music community was shocked when the Philadelphia Orchestra, one of the "big five" declared bankruptcy, owing some $100m in debts, claims, and liabilities. Now, that same orchestra has reorganized, settled its debts, and, hopefully, found a plan that will keep it from financial ruin in the future. The restructuring has included lowering salaries, cutting musicians, and making changes to pension plans.

Read the full article HERE.

McGill@Menlo: "leaving a listener wanting more"

Music@Menlo Festival Photo: Tristan Cook / SF
Anthony McGill, a long time performer at San Fransico's Music@Menlo festival, received a glowing review from the San Francisco Gate of his performance of the Mozart Clarinet Quintet in collaboration with the Pacifica Quartet. Music critic, Joshua Kosman, said Mr. McGill has "a star quality that stands out in anything he does. He boasts a buttery, elegant tone that imparted a glossy sheen to the melodies of the first movement, and he leavened that with a crisp rhythmic bite in the variation set that constitutes the quintet's finale." He also said that "the only downside of Sunday's excellent concert... was that it didn't include enough of McGill's sumptuous artistry."

Read the full review HERE

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Free, streaming concerts from Yale's Norfolk Festival

Looking for some great listening this summer? Look no further than Yale's Norfolk Chamber Music Festival's free live-stream! Yale presents multiple concerts a week, featuring professionals such as the Tokyo String Quartet, David Shifrin, Frank Morelli, Stephen Taylor, William Purvis, and many others, along with the Young Artist Series, featuring the fellows of the chamber music session. Whether you are in the mood for a string quartet, a woodwind quintet, or a piece for percussion and cello, you are sure to find something that you will enjoy.

For you clarinet folks, make sure to tune in on Saturday, August 4th at 8:00pm EST to see David Shifrin and the Tokyo String Quartet perform Brahm's Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op. 115

Check out upcoming events HERE.

Tune in to the live-stream HERE.

Teaching Brass in Uganda: Eastern Edge Brass Quintet

Eastern Edge Brass, a Baltimore-based brass quintet, has been given the opportunity to travel to Uganda as a part of T.U.B.A (the Uganda Baltimore Alliance). While there they will be giving lessons, working with music instructors, and giving performances along with bringing along some french horns (an instrument that is absent from the area they will be visiting) and sheet music to share with young, aspiring musicians. Below is a video where the quintet explains exactly what they plan to do and what they hope to achieve while in Uganda.

Unfortunately, getting a brass quintet to a foreign country is not a cheap task. They currently have an Indiegogo campaign going and are attempting to raise $12,000 to cover airfare, lodging, vaccinations, and other travel-related expenses. All gifts are tax-deductible through the non-profit Fractured Atlas. Also, all gifts of $10 or more will receive "perks" such as hand-made gifts from Uganda and mp3 recordings of the group. More details are available at their fund-raising page HERE.

Click here to make a donation!

Eastern Edge Brass Facebook Page and Website
T.U.B.A. Facebook Page

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Joel Puckett's Concert Duo Recording Online!

A performance of Joel Puckett's "Concerto Duo" by Anthony and Demarre McGill with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra is available to be listened to online. A beautiful performance of an incredible piece. It's amazing what happens when you combine a world-class composer, seasoned professionals, and the talent and passion of aspiring performers.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Andrew Moses plays Hommage a C. Debussy

Andrew Moses, aged 13, performing Hommage a C. Debussy by Béla Kovács. I have always enjoyed watching Andrew play, though perviously more due to his young age and high level of skill. In this video, I went from enjoying his playing because of his age, to enjoying his playing based on his artistry and musicianship. It is a really beautiful performance. This kid is going to go far.

Andrew's website can be found HERE.
His YouTube page is HERE.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

New "Reserve" mouthpiece by Rico

Rico has just released their new artist mouthpiece, the Reserve. The Reserve mouthpiece is based upon the old vintage mouthpieces and is milled out of a single billet of material, making it much more consistent (with tolerances of 0.0005) than mouthpieces made using the more traditional injection molding process. It is endorsed by Richie Hawley, Mark Nuccio, and Lee Livengood, all of whom were involved in the design of the mouthpiece. The Reserve is currently available in three different facings, close (1.00mm), medium (1.05mm), and medium open (1.10mm) and is listed on the Rico site at $117, though they are on sale at Kessler Music for $99. I hope to get a chance to try these out soon. It will be interesting too see if Rico can break into the largely Vandoren-dominated mouthpiece market.

Rico Reserve official product page HERE.

Photos all belong to Rico and D'Addario

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Academy 2012

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Academy was once again a hit, bringing together 104 amateur musicians for a week of learning and music making. The BSO Academy consists of a week of rehearsals, masterclasses, and lessons culminating in a concert at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. The program includes people from all walks of life such as a neurosurgeon who picked up the clarinet at age 63 and an accountant who learned oboe as a way to connect with her disabled daughter. The full article can be found HERE. It's beautiful to see how much music brings us together, no matter our skill level or day job.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Puckett's Concert Duo: Interview, downloadable parts, program notes

A shot from a rehearsal
Joel Puckett's new piece, Concerto Duo for Flute, Clarinet, and Orchestra, will be premiering this Sunday with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and Demarre and Anthony McGill. If you will be around Chicago this weekend, check it out!

For a limited time Dr. Joel Puckett is allowing you to download the clarinet and flute sheet music from his website. Also included on the page are the program notes to piece, a MIDI mock-up of the last movement, an interview with Demarre and Anthony, and information if you are interested in renting the piece.

Joel Puckett's Website HERE

Get tickets HERE

Monday, April 9, 2012

Alan Gilbert motion capture: conducting in detail

The New York University Movement Lab decided to do a motion capture of Alan Gilbert conducting the Grand Chorale from Stravinsky's L'Histoire Du Soldat. It's really interesting to see his conducting in computerized detail, as well as the sounds that comes about as a result of the musicians response to him.

Click HERE to see the video via the New York Times.

The Kimbanguiste Symphony Orchestra: classical music in the Congo

The Congo, one of the world's poorest and most war-torn countries, is also home to a little known orchestra. Located in the capital, Kinshasa, The Kimbanguiste Symphony Orchestra is the only orchestra in central Africa and the only all-black orchestra in the world. It is made up of about 200 instrumentals and vocalists who have never been outside of the city.

Armand Diangienda, a former airline pilot, started the orchestra from almost nothing, having no musicians, instruments, or people who could read music. Because of this, Armand taught himself how to read music and to play the piano, cello, trombone, and guitar. Though people laughed at him and said "here in the Congo, classical music puts people to sleep," he pressed on and managed to convince some of the members of his church to join him. It got to the point where they had twice as many willing participants as they did instruments. Eventually, more instruments came in, either through donations or being purchased as local thrift shops and helped to make the orchestra what it is today. Below is the video from 60 Minutes. It's really incredible to see the power of music and the joy that it brings, no matter where we may live. (video below, for more go HERE to see works by Beethoven, Handel, Orff, and more!)


Friday, April 6, 2012

Music makes for more successful surgeries

A team at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford found that listening to music during surgery can have many beneficial effects. In this study of 96 patients, half were played music during surgery and the other half underwent surgery in the typical, music-less environment. They found that the patients who listened to music "scored about a third less on anxiety levels and were also noted to have more relaxed breathing patterns during the surgery". They also suggest that the music, in addition to helping the patients, may calm surgeons as well, making surgeries more successful. 

Full Article HERE - via BBC

Monday, April 2, 2012

Buffet "Divine" details now available

This new clarinet, designed with the help of Paul Meyer, will have the same tone hole placement as the Tosca but will have a new bore that "favors flexible register-crossing and freer blowing during the most demanding pieces." The clarinet will have carbon-fiber tenon rings, some Green-line tone holes on the upper joint to minimize cracking in the most prone areas, and improved ergonomics and key work (including the low F correction key). As the Tosca is the top of the R13 range, the Divine is being promoted as the lastest evolution of the RC line of clarinets. 

More information at Buffet's website HERE

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Clarinet Bboard 2012 Donation Drive

The Clarinet Bboard is currently holding its 2012 donation drive. The Bboard has been providing clarinet players with an incredible resource for years; be it news stories, opinions, rumors, ideas, new products, etc. It is a treasure trove of information for those willing to search for what they want. Also, there are few, if any, places on the web where clarinet players can post a question or idea and then receive numerous answers, suggestions, and perspectives from a host of clarinet players, amateur to professional. It really is a wonderful thing for all of us in the clarinet world, and a major help to any clarinetists that are, well... curious haha. If you can, please go over and shoot a donation their way. It's easy, simple, and you can be listed anonymously if you want. Please, say thanks to Mark Charette for making this freely available to us.

Donate HERE.

Continuing with April Fools, Beethoven's 10th Symphony, via NPR

Check out this fun NPR story about the discovery of Beethoven's 10th Symphony. Gotta love the iPhone "marimba" ringtone haha.

Ricardo Morales to perform as guest principal with LA Phil

DISCLAIMER: Turns out this story was a clever April Fools joke by Clarinet Jobs. Well done haha. Go over and like their Facebook Page if you haven't already. Link below!

This just in from the Clarinet Jobs Facebook Page:

"After a private audition for a committee of Los Angeles Philharmonic musicians, Ricardo Morales has been qualified for the position of Co-Principal Clarinet and will perform as Guest Principal for this coming week's concerts."

Mr. Morales, currently principal clarinetist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, was previously to have become the principal clarinet with the New York Philharmonic beginning in the fall, a position long left vacant after the retirement of long-time member Stanely Drucker. In one of the most talked about stories in the clarinet world, he recently backed out of the deal, opting to stay with Philly. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Alan Lomax folk music archive available for free online

Alan Lomax (on left) with banjo player Wade Ward, 1959
Alan Lomax spent his life traveling the globe recording folk tunes from numerous countries and cultures. Now, his entire collection, including thousands of songs and interviews, is now available online for FREE. It really is fun to listen through the tracks, getting a small glimpse of the different cultures whose traditional music is now available to everyone with internet access.

Link to recordings HERE.

NPR Article HERE.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Antigua-Backun Clarinet is a "Music Inc." Magazine Top 50

The Antigua-Backun Clarinet, announced back in October, has been selected as one of "Music Inc." Magazine's top 50 products. 

"Antigua hasn't offered a wooden clarinet until now, with the release of an instrument designed by Morrie Backun. The CL3230 is made of grenadilla that's aged 25 years or more and is provided by Backun from his Canada-based company's stash of high-end woods. Keywork and assembly are completed in Antigua's factory overseas, and customers have the option of silver-plated or nickel keys. Other features include undercut toneholes and black Valentino synthetic pads. "

Link to Antigua website HERE

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Martin Fröst pronounces his name

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a masterclass by Martin Fröst at the Colburn School today. I will get my notes up as soon as possible! Until then, just a little video I took today to clear up all controversy about his name. haha

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Buffet debuts new "Divine" model clarinet at Frankfurt Messe

Not much information is available about this clarinet right now other than that it is the new top of the line model for Buffet-Crampon. I'll get information to you as soon as I get it! Below are some pics and the YouTube video:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bring a Friend for Free to the LA Phil

"Attention music lovers! Share the gift of music by bringing a friend for FREE to hear Sibelius’ Sixth Symphony this Saturday at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Find a music loving pal, then use the password FRIEND4FREE here"

Vänskä conducting Sibelius 6, the Rosenkavalier Suite, and Martin Fröst performing the Aho Clarinet Concerto, don't miss out!!!

This Saturday, March 24! Again, the link is HERE

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Interlochen Arts Academy Webcast Featuring Alexander Fitterstein

Alexander Fitterstein will be playing Weber's Recitative and Polacca with the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra. You can watch the live stream for free March 18 at 3:00pm Eastern Time. 

Link to live stream:

Here's a sample from a rehearsal:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dogs Have Perfect Pitch

The dogs were first trained to recognize solfege syllables. By playing the correct note on the keyboard the dogs were rewarded with food. Later the person carrying out the tests played a pitch on the ocarina in order to see if the dogs could find the note based upon pitch instead of a verbal solfege command. Surprisingly the dogs immediately understood and were able to find the notes. The dogs were also able to mimic basic tunes played on the ocarina.

"Wolves are known to have absolute pitch. They are able to recognize their pack mates by their individual vocalizations. Pavlov's students showed that dogs also possess absolute pitch."

Inside the Case (responses thus far)

Anthony McGill, Principal Clarinet Metropolitan Opera Orchestra

Chris Peryagh

Hilary Zirkle, Junior Peabody Conservatory

Charles Sonoda, Freshman DePaul University

Joshua Anderson, Sophomore Peabody Conservatory

Jennifer Hughson, Masters Student Peabody Conservatory

Joel Weszka, Masters Student Peabody Conservatory

James Duncan, Sophomore Peabody Conservatory

Yuri Kim, Junior Peabody Conservatory