Personal highlights from last season include the renewal of my musical acquaintance with Brent McMunn in September in a recital of music for clarinet and piano by Bernstein, Poulenc, Schumann as well as Bela Kovacs’ Hommage a Manuel de Falla and Stravinsky Three Pieces, both for solo clarinet. A Swedish favorite on the concert was what was certainly the west coast premiere of Otto Olsson’s Suite for Clarinet and Piano. Olsson, an organist and composer who lived in the late 19th century, left the works unpublished at his death. Brent McMunn, who is now director of the Opera at University of Southern California Opera, and I first met when I was in graduate school.
Prior to that, in summer, I performed Frank Ticheli’s Concerto for Clarinet on tour in China, including concerts in Shanghai and Beijing. Ticheli composed and dedicated the Concerto for me in 2010, and I had previously performed it in Dallas, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Iowa, Korea, and Vilnius, Lithuania with conductors JoAnn Falletta, Robert Reynolds, Jerry Junkin, Mitchell Fennell, among others.
In November, I performed the Weber Quintet with the Los Angeles-based Salastina Music Society (artist directors and violinists Maia Jasper and Kevin Kumar). My relationship with Weber’s music continued through the year: I performed his Concerto no. 1 and his Concertino with the Austin Symphony Orchestra (Peter Bay music director and conductor) on May 1, two works I recorded previously with the North Czech Philharmonic.
In April, following a short stay in London, I was performing and teaching in Kaunas, Lithuania: I gave recital of music by Schumann, Kovacs, Poulenc, Lutoslawski, Debussy, and Stravinsky presented by Kaunas University (Andrius Bernotaitis, professor of clarinet and a former student), under whose auspices I also gave a masterclass at the Philharmonia Hall for clarinet students from Kaunas (both the University and high schools). The events were attended by clarinetists from all over Lithuania, including my good friend Mr. Algirdas Budrys and members of the Lithuanian National Philharmonic.
Last season, my Festival, the Fayetteville Chamber Music Festival, continued its expansion into presenting a year-round season. The expansion, so far, centers on week-long residencies in which visiting artists come together in Fayette County to meet and rehearse, perform several public concerts in a variety of venues, give open-rehearsals, and concerts to school children as well as attend audience and donor receptions. The concert repertoire included the wind quintets by Beethoven and Mozart with oboist Jim Ryon, bassoonist Ben Kamins, Bruce Henniss, French horn, with pianist David Korevaar. Last season brought cellist Bion Tsang to perform with FCMF for the first time, in a concert with Charles Wetherbee, Philip Bush and me of trios of various combinations by Beethoven, Brahms, and Khachaturian. And, we celebrated the appearance of the Altius String Quartet to FCMF, first with concerts in September and then with a memorable performance at FCMF’s Interlude Fun and Fundraiser.
Sponsorships and donor support, in particular by the Frank and Jean Raymond Foundation, has helped to make FCMF grow and develop—thank you!
This season, 2015-16, the Fayetteville Chamber Music Festival will again present a series of week-long residencies. Recently, my good friend and musical partner, cellist Bion Tsang returned to collaborate with FCMF new artists, violinist Diana Cohen and pianist Mikhail Korzhev. I met Diana years ago (having visited the Cohen family home many times during a period in which Frank and I met often and Lynette and I were members of Solaris Quintet); it was a pleasure to perform with Diana and meet with her again. We performed duos and trios in concerts at Blinn College in Brenham, Celebrations on the courthouse square in La Grange (thank you Mike and Susan of Bistro 108), and Henkel Hall in Round Top. And, we performed for children at West End School in Industry, at Round Top/Carmine School in Round Top, Fayetteville School in Fayetteville, and music students at Blinn College. The Altius Quartet will return for the March residency week and I look forward to collaborating with them for the first time on Brahms’ Quintet.
Looking ahead, in February, I will be performing again in Lithuania, one of Europe’s most musical countries, this time as soloist with the Kaunas Symphony Orchestra.
Also, I have a recital tour in Sweden in April with nine of the many chamber music societies found around the country, both in charming rural areas as well as major cities (and everything in between). This time, I’ll be performing in the towns of Hudiksvall, Linköping, Ljusdal, Nyköping, Ronneby, Sandviken, and Söderhamn, as well as my hometown of Halmstad and the intellectual capital of Lund.
I have been testing new mouthpieces lately for my good friend (and former teacher) James Kanter, who is always seeking to develop his mouthpieces.
My masterclass series at Cal State Fullerton, now in its seventh year, will present a series of two masterclasses with Yehuda Gilad: on December 3 and on March 17. Next May, Anthony McGill, will give a masterclass, rounding out the series this season.
My philanthropic work continued its expansion this year. The Frank and Jean Raymond Foundation and I partnered to provide scholarship funds for extraordinarily talented clarinet students from France and Lithuania.
This Spring, I will be on sabbatical from my professorship at Cal State Fullerton and I am pleased to announce that Nathan Williams has agreed to serve as visiting professor in my absence.