I’m back from the Clarinet Academy of the South, a weeklong series of masterclasses by Robert DiLutis and D. Ray McClellan. The “Academy,” in its inaugural year, was held at the lovely campus of my recent alma mater, the University of Georgia. Dr. McClellan is the clarinet professor at UGA, and a former member of the President’s Own Marine Band. Mr. DiLutis is the clarinet professor at Lousiana State University, and formerly of the Rochester Philharmonic and the Eastman School of Music.
Around two dozen clarinetists attended. Most were college or graduate-school clarinet students, but there were also some professionals and educators. Many were current or former UGA or LSU students, and some were newly-admitted students looking to get a leg up for the fall.
Although the attendees found time to socialize, explore the campus, and try some favorite local eateries, the overall tone of the camp was studious. Each day’s itinerary began with practice time at 8:00 A.M., and finished after three intensive masterclass sessions at 9:00 P.M. Most of the attendees stayed in inexpensive and convenient on-campus housing.
Some highlights of the week included an opening recital by Mr. DiLutis and Dr. McClellan, sessions on reed adjusting and reedmaking by Mr. DiLutis, a class on phrasing by Dr. McClellan, a mock orchestral audition, and sessions dedicated to the Mozart concerto and the Nielsen concerto.
Both Dr. McClellan and Mr. DiLutis were students of David Weber at the Juilliard School, and the late Mr. Weber’s influence was omnipresent at the Academy. Evening masterclass sessions ended with reminiscences, often humorous, of their time under his tutelage. An end-of-the-week dinner in Dr. McClellan’s home turned into a “listening party” with recordings of David Weber and other fine clarinetists that fell within his sphere of influence.
As the end of the week, Mr. DiLutis and Dr. McClellan expressed their intent to hold the event again next year, and to consider some variations on the format (possibly to include private lessons and more performance opportunities for attendees).
I found it to be an enjoyable and educational week, at a surprisingly affordable price. Dr. McClellan and Mr. DiLutis are artists and educators of the highest caliber, and anxious to share their knowledge. Keep an eye open for it in 2012!