Saturday, August 11, 2012

Sailors invade ClarinetFest!

Occasionally musicians in the U.S. Navy Band are assigned to TAD, which stands for temporary additional duty.  It isn't as bad as it may sound, I assure you!  TAD can be used for a number of things including sitting on promotion boards, attaining additional training on a particular skill important to the command, but it can also involve representing the Navy in a musical capacity at universities and/or major international conferences.  Recently, two of our clarinetists attended ClarinetFest held by the International Clarinet Association at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.  Senior Chief Musician Laura Grantier and Chief Musician Cynthia Wolverton had this to share from their experiences:

Every year the International Clarinet Association holds a conference called ClarinetFest. Students, teachers, and professional performers come from all over the world to attend this conference. This year it was held at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb. One of the featured evening performances was a concert of duets accompanied by the Omaha Symphonic Winds at the Lied Performing Arts Center. University of Nebraska clarinet professor and ClarinetFest coordinator, Diane Barger, invited clarinetists from the military bands in Washington to perform. Chief Musician Cindy Wolverton (U.S. Navy Band) performed with her sister Sgt. 1st Class Cheryl Ani from U.S. Army Band, Gunnery Sgt. Michelle Urzynicok and Staff Sgt. Chris Grant represented U.S. Marine Band, and I performed with Tech. Sgt. Blake Arrington from the U.S. Air Force Band. At the end of the concert, there was an encore performance with clarinetists from all the service bands including the clarinet quartet from the U.S. Coast Guard Band and U.S. Marine Corps clarinet ensemble. The performances all went beautifully.The following day we held a roundtable discussion on life as a military musician.

I was honored not only to be representing the Navy and the Navy Band but also to be performing with my friends and colleagues from our sister service bands. Despite living and working in the same city as these other fine clarinetists, I rarely see them, let alone play duets with them, so it was truly a special treat to have this collaborative project. They are all wonderful and talented people and the response we received was incredible. Additionally, I heard some amazing performances, reconnected with old friends, and made some new ones! It was a very rewarding experience and one I will not soon forget! --Senior Chief Musician Laura Grantier

Every summer since 1974 the International Clarinet Association has hosted a convention called ClarinetFest.  Clarinetists from all over the world gather together to listen to recitals, attend lectures and masterclasses, perform in clarinet choirs, and revel in all things clarinet.  This event takes place in a different location each year and past conferences have been held everywhere from Norman, Okla., to Porto, Portugal.  ClarinetFest 2012 was held Aug. 1-5 on the campus of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.  Attendees included college professors, orchestral players, soloists, amateurs, and of course, clarinetists from our nation's military bands.  

The artistic director and host of this year's ClarinetFest, Diane Barger, is especially appreciative of those who serve in the military.  Her husband is in the Air Force and just returned from a six-month deployment in Afghanistan.  In planning the clarinet convention, Diane set aside an evening program that would feature military musicians.  The concert would consist of clarinet duos with wind ensemble; the Omaha Symphonic Winds, under the direction of William Hall, offered their services.  Six clarinetists from the military bands in Washington, D.C., volunteered for this unique opportunity.  Senior Chief Musician Laura Grantier of the U.S. Navy Band and Tech. Sgt. Blake Arrington of the U.S. Air Force Band opened the concert with Mendelssohn's Concertpiece No. 2.  Sgt. 1st Class Cheryl Ani of the U.S. Army Band  and I performed Ponchielli's Il Convegno, and Staff Sgt. Christopher Grant and Gunnery Sgt. Michelle Urzynicok of the U.S. Marine Band concluded the program with Bassi's Gran Duetto Concertante.  After an enthusiastic response from the audience, we returned to the stage along with seven other military clarinetists who were performing in different capacities at ClarinetFest and treated the audience to spirited renditions of Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee and Jeanjean's Guisganderie.

The following day found us presenting a military round table discussion.  Representatives of each of the bands were on hand to explain the benefits, quality of life, and opportunities for clarinetists in both the premier bands and fleet or regional bands.  Topics included pay, medical and educational benefits, differences between the services, daily schedule, travel, and the audition process.  More and more young clarinetists are seeing the military bands as a desirable career option and we were more than happy to share our experiences and answer questions.

ClarinetFest 2012 was a great experience for me.  Not only did I get a chance to see old friends, spend time with my former teachers, and hear some outstanding performances, but I represented the Navy doing what I love most.  It was truly an honor.  Assisi, Italy, will be hosting ClarinetFest 2013.  I wonder if it's too early to submit my TAD request? --Chief Musician Cynthia Wolverton

1 comment:

William Hall said...

All the military musicians were incredible. How fortunate the United States is to have such fine musicans, and moreover, fine individuals in her military. We look forward to your next concert in Omaha.