What a conclusion to a season! Had the greatest opportunity to perform and conduct on the Music of Eric Mandat Concert at the International Clarinet Association in Orlando, Florida. Prior to that, I made it as a finalist for the Research Competition with "Croatian Clarinet Concertos: The Cultivation of Tradition after 1952".
I have always learned a lot from attending events like these from either watching different performances, rehearsing, or even just speaking to people. The difficult part about competitions is that it is always subjective and always have to prepare yourself for the results - good or bad. Despite the end result, you always have to dust off your knees and keep going. I am determined to have my project published because I believe so strongly in it. That's something I learned was to continue believing in what you do.
For Eric's concert, I performed I. Portent, which is the first movement of Tricolor Capers. Wesley Ferreira performed the other two movements II. Bop and III. Sway. Here, Mandat uses a lot of the musical material he establishes in the first movement in the other two movements. I also stepped in for another clarinetist who was not able to make it for Ritual, which I performed with Season Cowley. It was a good experience. I never had the chance to really study Eric's music at depth when I studied with him and was really happy to share that with people.
Then we had a chance to perform the first movement of Concert Music For Clarinets - one of Eric's most challenging and demanding works. We did this work at his Tribute Concert in Carbondale, IL. What I've always loved about Eric's music is that even though it is so difficult - it makes sense at the end. There's always something that the listener holds onto when they are experiencing this music. Every time I entertained the thought of composing something, it always ended up in the bin! It was quite the experience and this is where I learned the most as a conductor. There were difficult rehearsals, but we overcame them with the little rehearsal time we had. After one rehearsal, I spent a sleepless night rethinking and problem-solving many of the compound mixed meters in the work that were difficult to conduct, along with the transitions in his work. Despite this, it was a blessing to have this All-Star Team of musicians performing the work!
I am sharing this with you because it is all a process. Yes, our world tells us we have to be perfect from Day 1. Yes, we have to always be on our game. Yes, we must always maintain professionalism, but we are also human. It is normal to feel frustrated and angry when things don't work right away, but that doesn't mean they don't at the end. As musicians, we create the musical environment that surrounds us - no matter how good or bad it sounds.
A little late on this one! It's been a busy summer. So, this summer I had the opportunity to conduct Oscar Navarro's Second Clarinet Concerto with Radovan Cavallin as the soloist at the first edition of the Cyprus Clarinet Festival in Agia Napa. Radovan had performed it previously with the Banda Sinfônica Municipal de Las Palmas with Navarro conducting....so I had some big shoes to fill.
We had a lot of concerts! The first night featured one of my favorites, Nuno Pinto performing with electronics with my great friend, George Georgiou. Hedwig and Angelos performed a concert featuring duos and clarinet with delayed step! It was an absolute blast to be exposed to repertoire I have never heard before and being inspired by so many great performances by wonderful clarinetists!
It wasn't completely all work - we had a chance to sneak off to the beach in Agia Napa and swim in the Mediterranean Ocean! We also took advantage of the beautiful city and had REAL Cypriote food. We had a chance to see the Ancient Ruins and to have free wine tasting, by the one and only, Francis Guy! He also played an important role in the festival making sure things ran smoothly. We felt so welcome - so happy to be there!
The students had a lot of fun and that was the most important thing. This was the first clarinet festival they had in Cyprus. We were able to bring international performers to one spot and to provide the best information to them as possible. They had a chance to perform in the clarinet choir and perform in chamber ensembles for the final concert.