A Call from Mozart

I’m going to take a break from writing about Rockin’ the Casbah to say a few words about another project I have had the great honour to be a part of: playing 2nd clarinet in the Mozart Requiem.

In late February I got a call from Barb Chamberlin, director of the Whitehorse Community Choir. They were putting on Mozart’s Requiem, and needed a clarinet part covered. I had heard that they were doing this piece, and was very excited to see it. So when Barb called me, I said yes right away. I was right in the middle of our intense pre-show rehearsal schedule with Rockin the Casbah, though, and had to miss the first week of the Requiem rehearsals.

  I was a little nervous.  Other than playing Begin the Beguine with The Big Band, I hadn’t had my clarinet out of it’s case in 10 years…and hadn’t really seriously PLAYED it in 20 years. And honestly, it was probably 30 years since I actually worked at playing anything of substance or even anything new. I think the last time I purchased new music was in 1980.  So yes, I was a little nervous! Here’s a secret: when I was given the opportunity to play Begin the Beguine on the clarinet with the band last year, I had to borrow a fingering chart from the high school because I couldn’t remember some of the fingerings. That’s how bad it was!

 But what an opportunity! I just couldn’t believe it. I used to love my clarinet so much. I still do. In fact, every once in awhile I would take my clarinet out of the closet just to smell it. Yes – laugh all you want! I’d laugh, too! But smell is a powerful thing, and the smell of the grenadilla wood and the bore oil evokes powerful emotions. There was a time in my life where I spent a lot of time together with my clarinet. I’ll bet you didn’t know that I did my first year of university as a clarinet major, eh? There you go! Hours and hours in practice rooms with my beloved clarinet. In high school I used to walk next door to Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) and use their practice rooms. I can still hear my footsteps on the wooden floors, and the hot, dusty smell of the old rooms. The senses are powerful, indeed.

So I got this call to play in the Mozart Requiem and jumped at it. I was agonizing over what to do about the dance school…should I take a year off? Should I retire? Should I re-organize? I obviously needed a break – and was really REALLY worried about not having creative outlets. I wondered, if I relaxed in one area of my life, might doors open in other areas? No sooner had I even acknowledged these treasonous thoughts than Mozart called. Or, rather, Barb Chamberlin called. Here was a door. Opening. So I stepped through.

Here is the Introitus & Kyrie (opening sections of the Requiem). Listen for the clarinet!

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