Sax Noir was down to a duo briefly, with the departure of Debbie Webb to the “other” coast and Valerie Crocker getting too busy with family and her work as a music teacher. Bryan took over brilliantly as principal saxophone of the Pacific Symphonic Wind Ensemble for Debbie but wanted to stay on tenor for the quartet. Ace teacher and player Tina Wang joined both PSWE and Sax Noir on 2nd Alto. We cast about for a Soprano player and Michael Morimoto, saxophone instructor at the Vancouver Academy of Music was interested. He’s joined just in time for our rehearsal this weekend to prepare for our upcoming gig at the 90th birthday celebrations of Vancouver’s premier music hall, the Orpheum Theatre!
Ace student Joey Liu capped his first season with the Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra by winning the Principal Clarinet position with the intermediate orchestra, and then spent an afternoon at Selmer Paris on his family vacation this summer! He brought his own mouthpiece and reeds and tried some instruments and then tested a few Selmer Concept mouthpieces and brought me the best one! Meanwhile, I was trying the only one available in Western Canada and found that it had a slightly veiled tone due to some manufacturing flaws. The one Joey gave me today is excellent, and sure enough all the measurements show it is made to spec! There are students….and then there are STUDENTS! It has been a real blessing to work with Joey and his brother Jeffrey and get to know his family. Hard to imagine a higher or more rewarding calling than teaching….I had him sign the box and am placing it in my scrapbook as a memento of our joy in working together. I will be balancing some reeds for it and checking out it’s sound, intonation and response for a few weeks. Happy, happy, happy!
Stanley Drucker joined the New York Philharmonic as a clarinetist in 1948 at the age of 19. Since then over 40 million people have attended his concerts and his sixty year tenure earned him a Guinness World Record for the Longest Career as a Clarinetist. Mr. Drucker left the Philharmonic at the end of the 2009 season, and performed the Copland Concerto at the age of 80. He said “A musician never retires. I’m a player and I’ll always play.”
The Heritage Collection showcases live never-before-released chamber music performances from 1972-2004 and includes pieces from Claude Debussy, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Igor Stravinsky and more. I was one of first 250 to reserve my limited edition set and received an autographed copy!
Ryan played a transcription for Tenor Saxophone of Max Bruch’s Kol Nidrei (originally for Cello) yesterday at the St George’s School Rigg Scholarship Presentations. It was a “multi-arts” event with scholarships awarded for Music, Theatre Arts (including Technical, TV Production, and Acting) and Visual Arts (including sculpture and painting.) The event was full of powerful, sensitive and compelling work, not least Ryan’s performance. This is the same piece with which Ryan won the tenor saxophone chair in the National Youth Band of Canada. I closed my eyes and was swept away by the romance of Ryan’s vision of the piece and his gorgeous tone. This is the experience that every teacher longs for….to become an audience member instead of a critic. Just one of the most fulfilling moments of my life, that’s all!
Lauren Breakell, an excellent young musician attending York House School will be eligible for the jazz band there next year so she has added a beautiful Trevor James saxophone to her gig bag! She will be working on the Niehaus Basic Jazz Conception for Saxophone over the summer and will knock ’em dead in her audition in the fall. In the meantime, Tom Lee music had a moving sale and we got a great deal for Lauren on her first wooden clarinet, a Backun Protégé in Grenadilla with silver keys. We spent hours on a Saturday afternoon choosing from six wonderful instruments, including swapping out bells and barrels to customize her choice. Note the Backun standard Cocobolo barrel to add that sweet warm tone. Lauren is a born musician who works hard, and that is what sets her apart…but great equipment doesn’t hurt a bit!
Ryan Cheng just won the audition for the Tenor Saxophone seat with the National Youth Band of Canada for 2017. We have been working together for four years and every moment has been a delight. He was playing a lovely Trevor James Signature Reference Silver-plated horn with Vandoren V21 reeds and a Vandoren TL4 mouthpiece. One of the excerpts was from Max Bruch’s Kol Nidrei with which he also won a Rigg Scholarship for excellence in the arts at St George’s School where he has been a member of the prestigious Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band for the last four years. Ryan’s a sensitive and accomplished musician who richly deserves this honour.
I was entranced by recent internet videos of the Vandoren BD5 Bass Clarinet mouthpiece. Part of it might have been Vandoren artist David Gould’s sublime playing, but there was something about the richness and compact fluid sound of the setup that was wonderful. I contacted my friend Alex who distributes Vandoren products in Canada and was informed that the Bass Clarinet version was not yet available, but he sent me two of the 13 series American pitch Soprano clarinet models. What a revelation! They are incredibly rich, focussed, compact and fluid with great intonation and ease of articulation. Much more focussed than anything I have played. This has been the first time I have been tempted to change mouthpieces in 10 years and I am switching over for an extended trial. They replace my previous favourite Vandoren models, which were already excellent and chosen by many professionals and students. By the way, they seem supremely matched to the amazing V21 reeds! I’m going to keep an extra couple in the studio for student trial. Bravo, Vandoren!
Legere recently released the European Cut clarinet reed. I wouldn’t have believed we could have improved upon the Signatures, but I ended up exchanging all my Signatures for European cuts! Julie at Legere noticed I still had some of the old clamshell packaging on my display wall in a photo I sent her, so she also exchanged all of those for ones in the new packaging and sent one more of the new wall racks….so here is my new Wall of Legere!
A day so anticipated that it felt like it would never come…and it was worth the wait! Baritone saxophonists struggle with reeds more than any other single reed player. Many have the opinion that there are no good bari reeds made, period. Not me…there were Legere Classic bari reeds! I stock every premium cane reed in the studio and keep trying them all from time to time, but always go back to Legere. However, as a Legere Signature player on every other size of saxophone, I have been longing for the Bari. It’s here and it is already selling very well in Vancouver. One more nail in the coffin for cane baritone reeds!