GCU music faculty doubles fun at ‘Duets’ recital
By Lana Sweeten-Shults
GCU News Bureau
Duet by clarinet?
Grand Canyon University adjunct clarinet professor Tim Haas wouldn’t have it any other way and will be enhancing the musical potential of the instrument for his faculty recital, “Duets,” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the GCU Recording Studio.
“It’s going to be a real fun, exciting concert with a lot of variety and some very unusual duets, too. You don’t see very many clarinet-tuba duets,” Haas said with smile. Nor is it often an audience will hear a clarinet paired with a guitar, English horn or alto saxophone.
Haas, who took GCU’s Clarinet Studio to Andre House to perform Christmas music for the homeless population recently, this time around wanted to put the spotlight on the University’s faculty.
It will be a good opportunity, he said, for students to see the skill level of their professors and just how talented they are.
“We have some major faculty here,” Haas said of the Music Department. “I always love collaborating with the faculty because they’re so good.”
He’ll be performing with five fellow faculty members and a GCU alumna in a recital of a half-dozen works. Featured will be flutist Dr. Jenna Daum, English horn player Dr. Rachel Messing, tuba player Kevin Bock, clarinetist Grace Baughman, Dr. Jonathan Crissman on guitar and Dr. Scott Zimmer on alto saxophone. (Click here to stream the recital.)
Haas said the idea behind a concert of duets stems back to when he and Bock read a piece about a year and a half ago but never got around to performing it together.
“I kept it in the back of my mind because Kevin is just an incredible tuba player,” Haas said.
So he planned a concert around the piece they’ll be playing, “Little Suite for Winter for Clarinet and Tuba.”
“I try to come up with themes, and I couldn’t think of one to go with this one. With ‘Little Suite for Winter,’ I thought, let’s do a winter theme, but I had a real problem finding repertoire that would fit that, so then I just came up with this crazy idea — OK, let’s just do an all-duet recital. I thought there was no way this was possibly going to work. To get these people in the same place at the same time, with all these music events going on, to find a time the music studio was available …”
But the stars aligned and Haas found an open date in the studio’s calendar that worked with everyone’s schedule.
The first piece to be performed will be Robert Muczynski’s “Duos for Flute and Clarinet,” which Haas has performed many times.
“Jenna and I have never really done a duet before, and I’ve always wanted to do a piece with her,” Haas said.
The audience also will hear “Hot Spots for English Horn and Clarinet,” a 2018 work by Daniel Dorff that takes a sunny disposition — a kind of anti-winter work, so to speak, with breezy, sparkling movements titled “Sunsplash,” “On the Beach” and “The Bee and the Horseshoe Crab.”
Along with Haas, “Hot Spots” will feature Messing, GCU’s oboe instructor, on the English horn.
“Little Suite for Winter,” the duet with Bock, is a 1981 work by composer Peter Schickele, who created the musical score for the film version of “Where the Wild Things Are,” arranged one of the musical segments for Disney film “Fantasia 2000,” wrote the music for the movie “Silent Running” and has written more than 100 compositions.
For Eric Mandat’s “Ritual for Two Clarinets,” Haas is bringing back one of his former students, Baughman, who graduated in 2017 with a clarinet performance degree. “I found this piece, and she performed a piece by the same composer, so I thought this was a good one to do,” he said. “She jumped at the chance to do that.”
Guitarist Crissman will join Haas for “Night Dance For Clarinet and Guitar” by Jonathan Russell.
Russell has written of the work, “‘Night Dance’ is a brief, evocative work for flute or clarinet and guitar. It was originally conceived as one movement of a 45-minute cycle of vocal and instrumental music called ‘Night Songs.’ Composed in 2007, this cycle was built around night-themed poetry by the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca. As a work standing on its own, ‘Night Dance’ has no specific program, but its circling, melodic cells, subtly shifting rhythmic grooves and undulating harmonies evoke, for me, mysterious nocturnal creatures scurrying and dancing through an enchanted forest.”
The final work on the recital repertoire will be Gregory Wanamaker’s “Duo Sonata for Clarinet and Alto Saxophone,” to be performed with Zimmer.
Wanamaker said a sax and clarinet pairing is “a dangerous ensemble” but “despite the fact that they are two very different instruments, I really wanted to focus on the similarities between the two as much as possible.”
The work combines the traditional formal aspects of the classical sonata genre with more recent musical trends. Included in its four movements is the rhythmically driven “Departure,” which opens with the instruments in unison before separating and “dancing in homorhythmic passages,” said Wanamaker. Another movement, “Elegy,” was composed as a reaction to the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, and the composition-ending “Arrival (Blues)” is “a fast blues with a contrapuntal development.”
Haas’ “Duets” recital with fellow faculty members isn’t the only thing on the schedule for the Music Department, which will host the All-Regional Honor Band Audition Workshop the day before. High school honor bands audition for regional honor band at the end of January, and GCU is making its faculty available to help students get ready for the event.
“We do a workshop every year where the kids get a chance to work with all the faculty. And they get a chance to do a practice audition exactly the way they have to do it (at regionals), which is really beneficial. … We’re really trying to do a lot more outreach,” Haas said.
It’s a busy time for Haas and the department but one he’s excited about, and he’s hoping the campus community might join the Music Department faculty for its evening of “Duets.”
“It’s a good mix of music, a good mix of instruments,” he said. “I’m really excited about it.”
IF YOU GO
What: Faculty recital, “Duets”
Where: GCU Recording Studio, fourth floor, Technology Building
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
Link to stream recital: Click here
Information: 602-639-8880 or [email protected]
Contact GCU senior writer Lana Sweeten-Shults at [email protected] or at 602-639-7901.