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United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
Unit News
Chamber Music Series Concert Features All-Clarinet Program

By Master Sgt. Amanda Simmons | United States Marine Band | February 9, 2016


With 25 members, the clarinet section is the Marine Band’s largest section and has an impressive depth of talent and experience. At 2 p.m. on Feb. 14, the entire section will be showcased for a Chamber Music program in John Philip Sousa Band Hall at the Marine Barracks Annex in Washington, D.C. 

The concept of an all-clarinet program was conceived by Bass Clarinetist Master Gunnery Sgt. Jay Niepoetter and coordinated by E-flat Clarinetist Master Sgt. Michelle Urzynicok. According to Urzynicok, the first half of the program is designed to build from a work with one clarinet up to a clarinet quintet. The program will open with Paquito D’Rivera’s Three Pieces for Clarinet and Piano featuring Master Sgt. Jihoon Chang on clarinet and Gunnery Sgt. Russell Wilson on accordion and will conclude with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Adagio in B-flat, K. 411, considered the first work composed for clarinet ensemble.

Many of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s finest works feature the clarinet and are performed regularly. Despite this, many of his compositions which include the basset horn remain obscure. The basset horn is essentially an alto clarinet in the key of F with an extended lower range. The instrument was popular in Mozart’s time but has since fallen out of favor, in part due to the invention of the modern alto clarinet (in E-flat) and bass clarinet.

The second half of the program will feature works for clarinet choir. A clarinet choir is a chamber ensemble comprised of clarinetists performing on the entire family of clarinets, including E-flat soprano, B-flat clarinet, alto clarinet, bass clarinet, and contrabass. The ensemble will perform a total of five works, including Gioachino Rossini’s Overture to
Tancredi, John Williams’ Irish Wedding Dance from Far and Away, and Johannes Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5 arranged by Staff Sgt. Patrick Morgan. The choir will also première a work by one of their own, Fantasy Overture for Clarinet Choir by Staff Sgt. Parker Gaims.

“I have always thought that clarinet choir is reminiscent of a pipe organ,” said Gaims. “Both the organ and a group of clarinets create sound by the blowing of air through tubes of varying sizes. Although many people and many types of clarinets come together to form a clarinet choir, the resulting sound of the group is still one cohesive timbre. I believe each section of the choir is comparable to distinct ranges on an organ. In composing this piece, I decided to embrace this aural quality rather than shy away from it. I treat the choir as if it were a single clarinet with an enormous range and contrapuntal capabilities.”

The concert is free and no tickets are required. Free parking is also available under the overpass on 7th Street across from the annex. The concert will also stream live beginning at 2 p.m. (EST) on the Marine Band website www.marineband.marines.mil.

Complete program and program notes

Directions and parking information

Marine Band clarinet section biographies

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