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Recital and Masterclass with Clarinetist Alan Kay

clarinetist alan kay

“He makes the clarinet sing, as if it were a human voice,” Marcantonio Barone says. “We’ve played together many times, and it has always been the greatest joy.” 

Alan Kay will perform with Barone—who teaches piano, keyboard skills, and chamber music at Swarthmore—for a recital in Lang Concert Hall on November 11th at 8:00 PM. Their performance will feature classical and modern works for clarinet and piano, and a solo performance from each musician. Mr. Kay will also present a clarinet masterclass on November 10th, at 4:30 PM in Lang Concert Hall. The masterclass will feature solo performances by Phillip Wu and Salome Jin with Mr. Kay sharing observations, comments, and instructions with the student musicians. 

Based in New York, Mr. Kay obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and advanced certificate from The Juilliard School, going on to become an accomplished clarinetist and conductor. His performance of Oliver Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time has been praised by the New York Times as “spellbinding” and described as “stunningly beautiful” by his contemporaries. Mr. Kay has also received numerous honors and awards including fellowships at The Juilliard School and Tanglewood (the C.D. Jackson Award), a Presidential Scholars Teacher Recognition Award, and the 1989 Young Concert Artists Award.

Mr. Kay's performance with Professor Barone will feature a wide array of musical traditions, including works by Romantic-period composer Johannes Brahms. Barone describes these pieces as, “not very long but containing a tremendous intensity of emotion.” Barone details how Brahms, “has distilled his ideas into very economical compositions.” Barone also notes the modern work by composer Takashi Yoshimatsu being performed. “It’s in a completely different language from anything else on this program . . . It's modal rather than tonal: the use of certain scales and chords is very characteristic. It’s a piece that bridges the classical tradition and rock music of the 1970s.” 

Mr. Kay’s masterclass provides Swarthmore students a unique opportunity to learn from such an accomplished musician. Phillip Wu, a senior performing in the masterclass, is curious to hear Mr. Kay’s feedback. Phillip has been working on the piece since June and made the decision to participate in the class during fall break. “I’ve had some problems with it for a long time, and I look forward to hearing his suggestions on how to address them.”

“A masterclass is just like a normal lesson,” Barone says, “but it’s one in which other people get to eavesdrop.” He described this as a rare and amazing opportunity for clarinetists or any other type of musician to learn from Mr. Kay by watching him instruct the performers.

The masterclass will take place on November 10th at 4:30 PM in the Lang Concert Hall followed by the recital on November 11th at 8:00 PM also in the Lang Concert Hall. Both events are free and open to the public.