January brought good news to the Shepherd School clarinet studio when Natalie Parker won the principal clarinet position in the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra after studying with both me and Richie Hawley. Micah Wright excelled in his performance of the Copland Concerto as winner of the Shepherd School Wind, Brass, Percussion, and Harp concerto competition. Danny Goldman is the newest member of the clarinet section of the Dallas Opera.
My lighter schedule, teaching one course each semester, leaves more time for writing. The first semester course was MUSI 501 – Enhanced Performance: Writing, Speaking, Playing for MM performance majors. The course helped students improve skill in communicating with an audience through words – spoken or written. The second semester course is MUSI 240 for undergraduate non-music majors. Entitled Unity and Variety in Music, the course investigates how composers structure their music so as to keep the listener engaged. Reading music is a prerequisite.
I am keeping an active performance schedule, playing with the Webster Trio, Syzygy, Musiqa and other organizations. I continue to direct the Houston Youth Symphony, which has won six national awards in the last four years, including the The Foundation for Music Education’s Mark of Excellence in 2008-2011 and The American Prize (website, blog) in 2010 and 2011. Both my wife Leone Buyse and I have coached the Youth Orchestra of the Americas during the summers since 2005. This year I had the unexpected pleasure of being their woodwind coach for a December tour of China. I spent nine days in Chonqing, the largest city you’ve never heard of. It was fascinating to see the western influence there: Santa Claus, Starbucks, and, yes, Kenny Gee. Now I’m gearing up for a busy summer: Clarinetopia at Michigan State, Texas Music Festival at the University of Houston, and YOA in Chile. I encourage all clarinetists to join ICA and follow my articles on teaching in every issue of The Clarinet magazine.