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.
The Virovitica International Musical Meeting (VIMM 2017) took place in Virovitica, Croatia. It's a small village outside of Zagreb, which is about two and half hours away by train. When I first arrived, I wasn't sure what to expect. I was in Croatia the week before doing further research on my research project for the International Clarinet Association Research Competition.
This year, I decided to take the bass clarinet course offered at VIMM with Luis Gomes. It was a great experience and the worst part is...I did not anticipate falling in love with that instrument as much as I did!!!
No matter where you are in your life, it's never to late to learn new things or discover new things about yourself. I honestly never thought that I would fall in love withe bass clarinet as much as I did and it's shown me another possibility...another path. I want to encourage you that it's never too late to learn new things...and who knows? Life might surprise you a bit :)
Our world gets too caught up with age or ability. There have been countless people who have told me that I can't do things in my life. This is a big thank you for those people because you inspire me to always push myself to be the best person we can be.
I had the greatest opportunity to return to Lima, Peru to teach masterclasses and direct the large clarinet ensemble at Clariperu's VI Taller para Clarinetistas Jóvenes. This masterclass was sponsored by Buffet Crampon, Vandoren, Barkley, and the Escuela de la Música at Póntifica Universidad de la Católica de Perú. The masterclass was from February 20-25, 2017.
It was a week I could not forget! The days began with group discussions about the different aspects of clarinet performance that were team taught by Marco Mazzini and I. We had a fantastic assistant who helped us with the beginner students, Liz. Afterwards, the students were separated into different groups according to their experience where Marco and I taught group lessons. Throughout the afternoon, I conducted the large clarinet ensemble of over seventy students from all of Perú and abroad. It was also an extremely valuable experience for me also. I had to teach all of the classes in Spanish. We performed two final concerts to close the program, which included Marco's arrangements of Piolicha, Cilulo, and La Bikina.
It was truly an inspirational week to work with such dedicated students. Their pursuit and thirst for knowledge alone was inspiring. My genuine hope is that all of the students were able to take the best things from the masterclass and continue their musical journey in life.
What does this mean? We've heard this phrase so many times before.
For me, it means to make your own path in life. It means that you have your own voice in this world and it deserves to be heard. Most people get too concerned about what other think and do. This is not productive. It is self-destructive and often leading to frustration and being chronically dissatisfied with life. Don't forget: We all have a special place in this world and have a right to it!
I was always the "black sheep" wherever I went and it was not until much later in life that I understood what I truly wanted and to be extremely creative in finding ways to share my passion with people. Creativity is important in generating public interest and exploring the different possibilities. We have to do this for ourselves because no one will do it for you.
In our society, we have to be multitalented. We can't just do one thing anymore. To be marketable and employable, we have to show that we are capable to do many things at an extremely high standard. We have to practice like maniacs and still be aware of the changes and directions art has taken in our world. Even though we are artists, we are also entrepreneurs! We have to be in order to keep music and tradition alive for future generations.
If you feel like a "black sheep", don't forget its not a bad thing. Embrace difference by marching to the beat of your own drum!