Last night I had the pleasure of attending Dr. Elizabeth Crawford's clarinet recital at Ball State. Now, what you might not know about me, is that I LOVE clarinet. There is something so gorgeous about its tone (when played well), and Libby blew me away. She and I have cultivated a friendship over the last weeks as we carpool to gigs and go to the gym together, and it was compelling to see my new friend in her element. Her tone is so pure. That's what I love about clarinet-- the sporadic use of vibrato, that on a string instrument would sound empty or unrefined... but the clarinet's tone is so rich and pure it does not need vibrato. But when it's added, there's this sparkle of surprise in the audience. Ooh, it was so nice!!
She performed a trio with Aryn Day Sweeney, our oboe professor. She also has a gorgeous tone. The two instruments together definitely compliment one another. Meryl Mantione joined Libby on basset horn for a Mozart piece, and that was, for me, a surprising yet delightful combination. Both Aryn and Meryl will be joining me on my recital in April, and hearing them both in a chamber music setting like this got me newly excited about the opportunity to collaborate with such gifted musicians. Lori Rhoden played piano on most of the works. I hadn't heard her play yet, but now I look forward to collaborating with her in the future. It's wonderful working at a place filled with such talented and kind people!
Besides the solo work Crazy by contemporary composer Scott McAllister, my favorite piece on the program was the Duetto for Clarinet and Double Bass by Bottesini. Joel Braun played bass, and MAN he was all over that fingerboard! I had a hard time paying attention to the piece as a whole because of the fireworks Joel was setting off. It was incredible to be "on the other side" of the stage, as it were. Playing with him in October was excellent, but being able to sit back and enjoy his abilities last night was a truly rewarding experience. I'm looking forward to collaborating with Joel again in the future too.
The bottom line, it seems, is that Ball State has a faculty rich with talent. What an amazing place to make music!