November Concert Announcment


Our next concert will be on November 24th at 2:30 at the Church of Truth on 111 Superior St. Victoria. This concert will feature a premiere of Rain Worthington’s piece for bass clarinet and marimba Message Exchange as well as a British Columbian premiere of Saskatchewan composer Kendra Harder’s Cat Fight.

There please stay tuned for program notes and more details on this upcoming concert and join us on November 24th, there will be snacks!

Back to School, Back to Lessons!


It’s that time of year where everyone is getting back into their routines. School is starting up again and so are after school programs. Why not make music part of your new school year? Whether you’re looking to catch up to the rest of the class, looking for a new challenge or have not had any music experience lessons are tailored to your personal needs. You can also have group lessons with a friend or two.

Curious about music lessons? Don’t be shy and drop me a line!

You Should Go To Summer Music and Art Festivals

There are so many fun things to do in the summer and music should be one of them. There are great outside festivals and venues that doing usually host music concerts during the year to check out. Here are just some reasons you shouldn’t let concert opportunities like these pass you by.

Have Fun!

Whether it’s to check out classics like Beethoven and Shakespeare or to find something entirely new and cutting edge summer festivals can be a great introduction to new experiences in a low key atmosphere. Often these are times that companies will take old classics and put a modern twist on them.

Get Inspired!

Taking in arts events are a great way to get the creative juices flowing. Inspiration can strike when seeing new ideas that others are putting out into the world and can influence your own work. What a great way to stay connected to the art world.

Make Connections!

Your community is full of artists, why not connect with some of them? Whether or not you plan on collaborating in the near future it’s always a good idea to meet new artists, you never know what will come up. It’s a small world and you may already have connections that you didn’t even know about.

Support Artists!

Even if you’re attending a free event organizers count numbers, you are supporting art just by showing up. It’s a win-win! You can also seek out the artists themselves and tell them that you appreciate their work which always feels good as an artist and supporter.

Here are a few events you can check out:

In Victoria: 5th Annual Oak Bay New Music Festival, Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival, TD Art Gallery Paint-In, Victoria Symphony Splash

In Edmonton: C’Mon Festival, Symphony Under the Sky

In Saskatoon: Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan

What did I miss? What events are you excited for this summer?

6 Reasons Why You Should Have Summer Music Lessons


There is no doubt that you have been working hard throughout the school year. You’ve had your year end recital, concert and maybe jury. There is nothing wrong with a break. However there are some very compelling reasons why you shouldn’t take the whole summer off.

1. Stay on top of your game

By taking lessons during the summer you can avoid that feeling in September that you have to catch up or get back into shape. Summer can be a time for relaxing but it can also be a time where it’s hard to stay focused. With lessons you will have a weekly check in and keep your goals in sight.

2. Be Ready for Auditions

For many, September is time for placement auditions. Whether you will know what pieces will be asked or not, having your fundamentals ready will allow you to focus on the pieces themselves and the challenges they present.

3. Brush up on Your Fundamentals

Summer is a great time to refocus on your tone, technique or other aspects of your playing that you feel are not where you would like them to be. During the year we can start off on the right foot and then get caught up in working on pieces for festivals and recitals. Having strong fundamentals will improve all pieces you work on and make learning them easier and quicker.

4. Learn Something New

Always wanted to learn how to circular breathe? Maybe there’s a piece with some weird technique that you’ve always wanted to learn? Summer is a great time to focus in on a project that you’re interested in. Sometimes during the year we get so into working on pieces for ensembles we don’t get to work on our own interests. Now is the time to expand your horizons.

5. Play Some Ensemble Pieces

You don’t always get to play the ensemble pieces you would like to, make time to find some friends that share your interests. It can be hard to stay focused but if you have a group of friends to be practice buddies with the task can now be a social event with colleagues and possibly snacks or a drink after. You can make practicing a team effort.

6. Get Inspired!

What a great time to get ideas and explore where you want to go musically. Learn about new pieces, techniques and players. Lessons can also include listening to some great recordings and going to summer concerts.

Whether you decide to have private or group lessons or enjoy a week or two at music camp keep on playing!

If you’re a string player in Victoria check out the GVYO String Camp
In Saskatoon the take a look at Saskatchewan Band Association and for adult brass and percussion players check out Prairie Music Residency.
Students in Alberta should look at MusiCamp Alberta and adults in Edmonton please look at Rusty Musicians Summer Camp with players in the Edmonton Symphony.

What did I miss? Any other reasons you can think of for taking lessons?

Thank You Music Festivals!

I (Melissa) recently had the immense pleasure of adjudicating winds and brass for the Kootenay Festival of the Arts and Brandon Festival of the Arts this spring. Thank you to the festivals for having me and thank you to the performers for giving so much of themselves to their music. I hope the experience was positive, helpful and gave you a chance to learn.

Also thank you to the local teachers for encouraging your students to participate. It can be very hard to make time for all the activities you would like to provide to your students, I’m honoured that you took the effort. I hope you will continue to encourage your students to perform.

If you had an experience you would like to share drop me a line!


In a Deep Funk by Daniel Dorff


Last year we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to participate in the Artists in Residence program at the Banff Centre for the Arts. It was an amazing experience for so many reasons and if you are thinking about applying we encourage you to do it. The Banff Centre also has a beautiful library which is where Melissa found this final piece. In a Deep Funk is originally for contrabassoon but adapted for solo bass clarinet for Barbara Haney and premiered at ClarinetFest in 2014. There are four different movements each inspired by characteristic dance rhythms: Hustle Misterioso,Twist Variations, Bear Hug, and Funk Scherzo.

Daniel Dorff is an American composer and often writes works for the Philadelphia Orchestra's education department.

PROGRAM NOTES by the composer

In A Deep Funk Dance Set for solo Bass Clarinet (or Contralto or Contrabass)

IN A DEEP FUNK for Bass Clarinet is the result of several intersecting ideas that have come full-circle. As a bass clarinetist myself, the Bach cello suites are standard repertoire for my practice and warm-ups -- partially because they're excellent training for intonation and interpretation, and partially because they're monumental masterpieces that can be played on bass clarinet straight from the cello music.

When I was commissioned in 1995 to create an unaccompanied competition piece for a contrabassoon festival, I responded with this dance suite somewhat in the Bach model, but using dance patterns from my own era rather than baroque dances.

Many years later, Barbara Haney commissioned FLOWERS OF ST. FRANCIS as a solo bass clarinet piece to premiere at the 2013 ICA ClarinetFest. When Barbara followed by asking if I happened to have anything else she could premiere at the 2014 ClarinetFest, it seemed time to make a bass clarinet adaptation of IN A DEEP FUNK.

The 2014 bass clarinet version is almost identical to the 1996 contrabassoon version, but the inherent difference in the instruments (and 18 years' time) led to a number of minor alterations.

The following details are taken from the 1996 program notes:

1. HUSTLE MISTERIOSO uses a hustle rhythm, and the pitches are reminsicent of the "Powerhouse" motif used in many of Carl Stalling's cartoon scores. It also is a traditionally-built rounded binary form.
2. TWIST VARIATIONS uses a theme in driving quarter-notes and 12-bar blues, and then goes quite far afield into many rhythmic and textural worlds, using the 12-bar blues as a chaconne.
3. BEAR HUG is a 12/8 slow dance, certainly inspired by the feel of Smokey Robinson's and other ballads of that genre.
4. FUNK SCHERZO is more free-form, and true to its title.

Roger Soren gave the world premiere at IDRS 1997; audio excerpts of that live performance are on the contrabassoon page of this website. Individual movements have been used frequently for audition requirements, and few have dared to play the complete suite in entirety. I've had the rare pleasure of hearing the 1st movement played en masse in unison at a contrabassoon convention.

There is also a sequel, Deep Funk, Pt. 2, for solo viola.

- YOUTUBE: Complete performance on Bass Clarinet by Barbara Haney

It's All Tumbling Down by Karel Van Marcke


Last summer we had the wonderful opportunity to perform at ClarinetFest 2018 in Ostend, Belgium. Not only did we have the opportunity to attend many performances and classes but there was also a vendor area that we had to visit. One of the pieces we found there was It’s All Tumbling Down by Belgium composer Karel Van Marcke. Van Marcke is a composer, percussionist as well as a noted jazz pianist.

We will be opening our concert with this work, it is lively and showcases the sounds of each instrument in a way that not one instrument dominates and the other accompanies but both with equal importance.

Robin #2 by Robert Daigneault

Robin #2 by Robert Daigneault is one of the first pieces we performed. Daigneault is an Ontario composer born in Hamilton and has collaborated with artists of all kinds. “What interests him is to use a fragment of reality as the starting point for a composition, and to make reality fanciful.” (CMC Biography)

Robin #2 is a prime example of this interest. It uses recordings of birdsong as inspiration for the composition first at the original speed in the vibraphone and then slowed down in the clarinet part. While there is no actual recording playing during the piece the snippets of recognizable and yet ghostly motives play continuously in both the clarinet and vibraphone.