Clarinetist Blake McGee

In the first of two concert appearances this week, clarinetist Blake McGee performs classics and cutting-edge works in his Guest Artist concert on Thursday May 2. 

Dr. McGee is a West Coast native who performed with the Portland Opera, Oregon Mozart Players chamber orchestra and the Vancouver Symphony. He is a member of Lights Along the Shore, a trio specializing in eclectic music from around the world. He currently teaches at the University of Wyoming.

 In this concert he will perform Introduction, Theme, and Variations by Gioachino Rossini, a clarinet work that adapts themes from his operas La Donna del lago and Mose in Egitto. By using elements of the Italian bel cantotradition, Rossini suggests the human voice in the clarinet.

 Dr. McGee also plays a modern classic, the Sonata for Clarinet and Piano by Leonard Bernstein. Written when he was in his early 20s, it was Bernstein’s first published work. The jazz-influenced elements of this popular piece are said to prefigure Bernstein's music for West Side Story

 Pleistocene Epoch: The Great Ice Age is a more contemporary and cutting-edge work, composed for unaccompanied bass clarinet by Jenni Brandon in 2008. It refers to the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, with suggestions of the gurgling and oozing of the Tar Pits, and the ancient animals buried beneath.

 Bling Bling is a 2006 work by Scott McAllister, a composer known for adapting popular music forms and tunes. In this case he explores hip hop in a piece for clarinet and piano.

 Accompanying Dr. McGee on three of these works is North Coast pianist Jennifer Heidmann. 

Dr. McGee’s second concert appearance is with the HSU Symphonic Band on Friday, where he’ll play another Scott McAllister composition. While on campus this week, he also will give a clarinet master class and a single reed workshop. He is an avid reed-maker and researcher, having presented his research methods to the International Clarinet Association conference in 2009. 

Blake McGee performs on the clarinet on Thursdays May 2 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. $8/$3 students and seniors, from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. A Guest Artist concert produced by the HSU Music Department.