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Report by Emily Kerski. 
The Clarinet Journal - Volume 41, No. 4  
September 2014



The inaugural Lift Clarinet Academy was an inspiring week of intensive study, chamber music, workshops, topic classes, and lessons held at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.  Academy directors Dr. Wesley Ferreira (Colorado State University) and Dr. Jana Starling (University of Western Ontario) were joined by this year's guest faculty member Dr. Deborah Bish (Florida State University). The week provided students with innovative instruction and training focused on the individual, allowing participants to reach their own technical, musical, and artistic goals. Prior to attending the Academy, students identified musical and technical areas they wished to improve upon and shared their goals with the faculty. 

The week opened with a faculty recital which featured diverse repertoire from Rossini to Gershwin. The team of teachers proved to be quite insightful and thought-provoking throughout the week to the seventeen participants who hailed from across the United States and Canada. Students ranged in age from senior high school through graduate studies, allowing for valuable interactions and ample opportunity to learn from each other. Each student was given a personalized schedule of lessons with each teacher and choices of classes to attend. Everyone was assigned to clarinet quartets and spent time daily in rehearsals and coachings.

Dr. Bish led classes on tone and articulation, while Dr. Ferreira worked with students on air support and playing in the altissimo. Dr. Starling led a particularly enthusiastic session on circular breathing.  A workshop on professional development stressed the importance of building resumes, professionalism, and going above and beyond in one’s studies. Dr. Starling encouraged students to be “people who say yes,” taking advantage of every opportunity. Participants were encouraged to make the most of music’s small world – where there are more like three degrees of separation among colleagues rather than the commonly known six. Later in the week, a round-table style discussion on performance anxiety sparked an enlightening and engaging conversation among participants and faculty. 


Mid-week, students had the chance to explore some of the beautiful Colorado setting, venturing to nearby Horsetooth Reservoir and Old Town Fort Collins.  It was a magnificent backdrop for the networking and collaboration that went on throughout the week.  


Two master classes featured students performing Rose etudes, classics such as the Brahms Sonata No. 1, and more modern works by Mandat and John Williams.  Dr. Bish discussed the importance of portraying characters in music as an actor preparing a role, and Drs. Starling and Ferreira focused on interpretation, expression, and projection. 


The final recital featured the world premiere of a work by James M. David. The piece, Deliverator, featured the three faculty members as soloists, accompanied by a clarinet choir comprised of the participants.  The inspiration for Deliverator comes from a 1980s science fiction novel, and the composer spoke of his idea for a character that was a cross between a pizza deliverer and the Terminator.  It is a tremendously catchy and entertaining piece that was highly enjoyed by the performers and audience alike.  The recital also featured four participants performing solo works and all of the Lift quartets performing the piece they had worked on throughout the week. 


The Academy was a wonderful success in its first year and certainly accomplished its mission: for each student to arrive with a goal and leave with a sense of achievement. Be sure to look for details on next summer's Lift Clarinet Academy online via the website

Review of 2014

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