A rich Swiss blend

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Christopher Tavernier on piano and Matthew Hanna on clarinet

Christopher Tavernier on piano and Matthew Hanna on clarinet

Free clarinet, piano concert in Landrum Dec. 11

A free clarinet and piano concert featuring two local musicians will be held Sunday, Dec. 11, at 3 p.m. at Landrum Presbyterian Church. “Cappuccino: A Rich Swiss Blend of Clarinet & Piano” will be sponsored by The Music Foundation of Western North Carolina and will present 16-year-old Christopher Tavernier on piano and Matthew Hanna with his clarinet. They will play the modern classic “Sonata for Clarinet in B-flat and Piano” by the late French composer Francis Jean Marcel Poulenc, who wrote the piece in honor of his friend Swiss composer Arthur Honegger in 1962.

“This will be a somewhat diverse concert,” Tavernier said. “The Poulenc piece is classical, but there are definite jazz-like elements. It has three movements, and each is very different giving the listener a wide range of emotional feelings. It helps to know that jazz musician Benny Goodman commissioned the piece in hopes of debuting it with Poulenc. But unfortunately Poulenc died suddenly, and Leonard Bernstein was called in for the premier, which was in 1963 in New York City’s Carnegie Hall. So here you have a French composer, honoring a Swiss composer, at the request of an American jazz musician. It’s not your typical classical concert. If you’ve not heard this piece, you’ll be surprised. In addition, we’ll be playing several pieces representing a wide range of international music.”

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In keeping with the coffee-themed concert series by the Foundation, free cappuccino will be served. “Like the espresso and milk drink, this music is a blend of strong elements mixed with smooth elements, creating an overall invigorating yet sophisticated experience,” Tavernier said.

Also on the program are several other selections, some of which will be solos. The solos will include three clarinet pieces by Igor Stravinsky, “Fantasie” by Jorg Widmann, and “Rhapsody for Clarinet” by Willson Osborne. The piano solos will be Sergei Prokofiev’s “Sonata No. 7 in B flat Major, Op. 83” and Claude Debussy’s “Reflections in the Water.” And the duets will be four short pieces by Howard Ferguson and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise for Clarinet and Piano Op. 34 No. 14.”

Already an accomplished concert pianist, Tavernier began his piano studies at the age of 6. In recent years, he has played sold out concerts in Spartanburg, Asheville, and Hendersonville. He has won several regional competitions, and in 2014 placed second in the National Elizabeth Harper Vaughn Concerto Competition in Kingsport, Tenn., making him the youngest performer in the competition’s history.

This year Tavernier won the Asheville Symphony’s Concerto Competition and was a semifinalist in the Midwest International Piano Competition. His concerto repertoire includes works by Bach, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, and Liszt. His pianistic lineage and training extend from Beethoven and Liszt through his teacher Dr. John Cobb. He is the first International Perzina Artist in Perzina Pianos’ 145-year history.

Hanna studied clarinet with Dr. Robert Chesebro at Furman University. During that time, Hanna was active as a competitor and placed first in the International Clarinet Association 1995 Young Artist Competition. He placed first in the Southeastern Clarinet Workshop Competition and won the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) state and divisional woodwind competitions. He was a finalist in the National MTNA High School Woodwind competition. In addition to being a member of Carolina Youth Symphony for three years, Hanna was featured as a soloist in 1996 performing the Carl Stamitz Clarinet Concerto No 3. in B flat Major.

He is currently active in the Upstate South Carolina music scene, performing regularly with local orchestras including the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Foothills Philharmonic, and GAMAC Orchestra. He is currently principal clarinet with the Brevard Philharmonic. He is a founding member of the Papageno Woodwind Quintet and performs as a singer and clarinetist on the front line of the Foothills Oompah Band.

For more information about this free concert, call 828-707-2604.

– article submitted by Steve Wong