Thursday, January 14, 2010

02/09/2010 @ 6:15 p.m.: Wonkak Kim, clarinet


Award-winning clarinetist Wonkak Kim has dazzled audiences with playing that is “virtuosic and stirring” (Journal de Morges, Switzerland). Collaborating with Mr. Kim is pianist Grace Eun-Hye Choi.

Program Selections
  • Gioacchino ROSSINI : Introduction, Theme and Variations (1812)
  • Edward LEIN : September
  • Alban BERG : 4 Stücke, Op. 5
  • François DEVIENNE : Sonata in E-flat, Op. 28, No. 2
  • Charles-Marie WIDOR : Introduction et Rondo, Op. 72



    Hailed by critics around the world as “excellent” (The Washington Post) and as a “tour de force” (Classical Voice of North Carolina), clarinetist Wonkak Kim has quickly established himself at the forefront of his generation, concertizing throughout the United States, Costa Rica, South Korea and Europe. Mr. Kim, who began studying clarinet with Kenneth Lee at the age of fifteen, has been a featured soloist with more than a dozen orchestras, performing concertos by Mozart, Nielsen, Spohr, Weber, and Copland. As a prizewinner of numerous national and international competitions, he has appeared in Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, German Embassy in Washington D.C., and Constitution Hall.

    Kim is frequently in demand as a soloist and chamber musician music festivals and artist series, including the Promising Artists of the 21st Century (San Jose, Costa Rica), OK Mozart Festival, William S. Newman Artist Series, Cours International de Music (Morges, Switzerland), Chapel Hill Chamber Music Workshop, Fantasia Cultural Management (Seoul, South Korea) and COEX Artist Series (Seoul, South Korea). He has also performed as a guest principal clarinetist with the Tallahassee Symphony, Albany Symphony (Albany, Georgia), and Sinfonia Gulf Coast Orchestras (Destin, Florida).

    An avid chamber musician, Kim is a founding member of enhakē, top-prize-winner of the Yellow Springs Chamber Music Competition (2009), International Chamber Music Ensemble Competition (2008) and the Plowman Chamber Music Competition (2008), which recently made a highly acclaimed debut at Weill Recital Hall (NYC). Kim recently commissioned a work from renowned American composer Libby Larsen, which will be premiered in Carnegie Hall in 2010.

    Keen to exploit his artistic talent, Kim has worked with various media to explore new aspects of classical music and visual arts, including a collaboration with Nuria Schoenberg Nono in Arnold Schoenberg: Photo Album with Music (2004) held in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, an appearance in Classical Music and Paintings (2005) broadcast by PBS in South Korea, and with the Tallahassee Ballet Company in its annual production of An Evening of Music and Dance.

    As an educator and clinician, Kim has given lectures and master classes at Florida State University, Valdosta State University (Valdosta, GA), Mesa State College, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Costa Rica, and the National Superior Institute of Music (Costa Rica). As a member of enhakē, Kim is an artist-in-residence of the Tallahassee Youth Orchestra and actively participates in local educational outreach program.

    Kim holds degrees in Mathematics (BA) and Music (BM) from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with full scholarship. He received a Master of Music in Clarinet Performance at Florida State University as a Teaching Assistant to Dr. Frank Kowalsky, where he was nominated for the University’s Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award for the 2007-8 academic year. Currently a Doctoral candidate at FSU, his major teachers have been Donald Oehler and Frank Kowalsky.

    Korean pianist Grace Eun-Hye Choi began playing the piano at the age of six. Choi has won several competitions in her native country and performed extensively as a collaborative pianist, including at the Hi Seoul Festival, COEX Arts Center, National Theatre of Korea, among many other venues. Recently her performance at the Hot Springs Music Festival was broadcasted on NPR’s Performance Today, and she has been invited to serve as a staff accompanist at the Interlochin Academcy’s Summer Arts Camp. Choi studied piano with Andreas Ehret and composition (BM) with Ji-Sun Lim and In-Yong La at Yonsei University in Korea. She is currently completing her Master’s degree in piano accompanying at Florida State University, studying under Dr. Carolyn Bridger.

    PROGRAM NOTES by Ed Lein, Music Librarian
    By 1829, when Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868) retired after the premiere of Guillaume Tell, his 39th opera, he had become the most popular composer in the history of music for the stage, and his Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville, 1816) retains its place as one of the most frequently staged Italian operas. In Introduction, Theme and Variations (or, Andante e Tema con variazioni, 1812), the second of his two early sets of variations featuring the clarinet, Rossini follows the introductory section with a lively melody and its five variations to showcase the coloratura capabilities of the clarinet in precisely the same manner he would showcase a singer—Rossini reused the tune in the cavatina for “Malcolm” in his 1819 opera, La donna del lago.

    CLICK HERE for a performance on YouTube of the original version with orchestra.

    Florida native Edward Lein (b. 1955) is the Music Librarian at Jacksonville Public Library's Main Library, and holds Master's degrees in both Music Theory and Library Science from Florida State University. As a tenor soloist he appeared in recitals, oratorios and dramatic works throughout his home state, and drawing on his performance experience the majority of his early compositions are vocal works. Following peformances of pieces by the Jacksonville Symphony, including Meditation for cello, oboe and orchestra (premiered June 2006) and In the Bleak Midwinter (premiered December 2007), his instrumental catalog has grown largely due to requests from Symphony players for new pieces. September (2008, dedicated to Music @ Main volunteer Betsy Ferraro) is a straightforward arrangement of a song composed on a text by American poet Carlos Wilcox (1794-1827), that begins, “The sultry summer past, September comes, Soft twilight of the slow-declining year.” The sustained lyricism of the music, essentially a waltz sandwiched between a contemplative introduction and its reprise, aims to capture the poet’s Romantic mixture of melancholy reflection and awestruck wonder, as the fading summer gives way to shorter days amid the glittering beauty of fall foliage mirrored in a mountain creek.

    CLICK HERE for the complete text of the "September" poem and to hear a recording.


    The Austrian Alban Berg (1885-1935) is one of few composers of predominantly “atonal” music (i.e., music that deliberately avoids musical scales and harmonies centering around a specific keynote) who has sustained a following among the concert-going populace, particularly with his ground-breaking operas, Wozzeck (1922, the first full-length atonal opera) and Lulu (1935, the first 12-tone opera), and his moving Violin Concerto (1935). According to social philosopher Theodor Adorno (1903-1969) who studied music composition with Berg in the 1920s, Berg’s atmospheric and freely-atonal Vier Stücke, Op. 5 (“Four Pieces,” 1913), might be regarded as a condensed version of the four-movement sonata archetype as brought to fruition by Beethoven, with Berg’s 7½-minute version appearing “in rudimentary, shriveled form,” and “everywhere and immediately creating, shattering, abandoning, reintroducing, and rounding off remnants” of its musical motifs. It is perhaps easy to suppose that Beethoven (had he been around and not deaf) might have slapped the budding composer for such a conceit, but it is surprising that Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951), Berg’s teacher and adopted father-figure, apparently gave his pupil a brow-beating for not producing more extended compositions, especially since Schoenberg’s own brief piano works served as a model for Berg’s Pieces. Berg took the criticism to heart and abandoned miniature forms in favor of large-scale works, ultimately demonstrating a communicative power his mentor’s own atonal oeuvre has proven unable to match.

    CLICK HERE for a performance on YouTube.

    French composer François Devienne (1759-1803) joined the Paris Opéra orchestra in the fall of 1779 as its last-chair bassoonist, but over the course of just a few years he had become something of a fixture at the famous Lenten Concert Spirituel series, as composer and as featured soloist on both flute and bassoon. By 1792 he was well established as a flute teacher, and was appointed as flute professor and an administrator at what became the Paris Conservatoire. He penned an influential method for flute performance (1794), and he became famous as an opera composer, especially for Les visitandines (1792) which enjoyed over 200 performances during its first 5 years. Many of Devienne’s 500-plus compositions were published during his lifetime, and as might be expected these include an impressive body of works featuring flute and bassoon. According to New Grove, Devienne’s 12 Sonatas for Clarinet and Continuo were originally for flute, and they exhibit the graceful elegance that has earned him the nickname, “The French Mozart.”


    Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937) was the preeminent organist in Paris at the turn into the 20th Century, and he taught both organ and composition at the Paris Conservatoire to students including Vierne, Dupré, Honegger, Milhaud, and Varèse, as well as Albert Schweizer with whom he annotated an edition of the organ works of J.S. Bach. Although his output includes operas, symphonies, concertos and a variety of chamber music, as a composer Widor is remembered mostly for his 10 symphonies for solo organ, a form he pioneered, and most especially for the famous Toccata finale of his Organ Symphony No. 5, Op. 42, no. 1. His idiomatic and virtuosic Introduction et Rondo, op. 72, was written in 1898 to fill a request from the Paris Conservatoire for a solo de concours (i.e., solo competition piece) for clarinet with piano. It remains a favorite of accomplished clarinetists, allowing the soloist ample opportunity to showcase both versatility and technique by alternating lyrical melodies with bravura passage work.

    CLICK HERE for a performance on YouTube.

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