To celebrate its 5th season, the SCF Bradenton Symphony Orchestra brings you Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, Brahm’s Hungarian Dance No. 5, Stamitz’s Clarinet Concerto No. 5 featuring soloist and SCF clarinet instructor Eric Anderson, and Beethoven’s monumental Symphony No. 5. Join us on Thursday, April 22 at 7:30 p.m. SCF students, faculty, and staff can attend live in the Neel Performing Arts Center, while all others can view the performance on the SCF Music Facebook page.
• Dr. Robyn L. Bell Website & Facebook & Instagram
• Eric Anderson, Clarinet Soloist Website
• SCF Music Program Facebook Page Link to watch the concert live
• SCF Foundation Donate2Music Link to donate to the SCF Music Program
• Text Code to donate to the SCF Music Program: Text "SCFMUSIC" to 41444
• State College of Florida Music Program Website & Instagram
• State College of Florida Theatre Program Website & Facebook & Instagram
• State College of Florida Foundation Website & Facebook & Instagram & LinkedIn
Support the show (https://scf-foundation.org/suncoastcultureclub/)
Robyn Bell: Five years ago, I started the Bradenton Symphony Orchestra here at the State College of Florida. And each year we've been doing the Beethoven symphonies in order and rounding out the program with other pieces that are numbers one or numbers two or numbers three. Also one of my main initiatives with the Bradenton Symphony Orchestra is to feature our various SCF music faculty members as soloists. So over last summer's pandemic, I was planning the program for. our fifth season, I knew that we were going to play Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and probably opened that with the very famous Hungarian Dance Number Five by Johannes Brahms. But what concerto number five could I put on this program? Lo and behold, I start a conversation with our clarinet instructor at SCF, Mr. Eric Anderson. And he mentioned that the early classical period composer, Carl Stamitz wrote at least five clarinet concertos. So surely we could find what we need and wouldn't you know, it, bam. We found the Stamitz Clarinet Concerto Number Five, score, parts, everything we set the date with Eric. And now we have not only a perfect number five themed concert, but also with all German composer. Yes. Now I'm going to talk about the Brahms Hungarian Dance, Number Five and the Beethoven Symphony Number Five in a little bit, but I thought what better way to introduce you to our fabulous clarinet instructor at SCF, who was also the principal clarinetist of the Sarasota Opera, then to have him on the podcast today. So Eric Anderson, welcome to the club.
Eric Anderson: Thanks for having me great to be inducted into a club.
Robyn Bell: Well, there's no prizes. You don't get any merch or swag or anything. I'm sorry to say, but we're glad you're here. So Eric, give us your musical history. When did you first start to learn the clarinet? When did you realize, Hey, this is something I might could do for a living. Where'd you get your training and what other performing experiences led you to get hired as the principal clarinetist in the Sarasota Opera and the instructor of clarinet at SCF.
Eric Anderson: Well, one thing I would like to stipulate is that . I played the principal clarinet in the Sarasota Opera for 2020. And the previous two years, I was second clarinet. So each year the orchestra kind of reforms and there are people that are asked to come again. And usually you play the same role, but I was asked to step up for 2020. Kind of like a promotion. Yeah. So it would not quite be accurate to say that I am the permanent principal clarinet of that orchestra since it kind of reforms every year. But I, was playing principal clarinet in 2020 for that season,
Robyn Bell: Got it. Thank you for clarifying that.
Eric Anderson: Yeah.
Robyn Bell: you'll be the principal clarinetist in my mind, forever and ever. Okay.
Eric Anderson: Yeah, so I started playing the clarinet in fifth grade. I started playing in my middle school band primarily because my dad played the clarinet growing up. He played in the marching band and really loved it a lot. He's pretty musical. He still sings in his church choir. He plays the piano and he. Encouraged me to take up the clarinet cause he could teach me, you know, at least the beginning notes of, how to play the thing and put it together.
Robyn Bell: Now did you like use his clarinet or did you have to rent like a beginner plastic
Eric Anderson: Yeah, he had his old clarinet, but it was really in terrible shape and he later got it fixed up so that he could play at church. We would play together actually sometimes in like pickup group at church. but it was really in bad shape when I started playing. So yeah, I started playing on a, plastic Vito model clarinet. I still actually, I have it right here in my studio still. I have it with me just in case any beginning students need something to start out on.
Robyn Bell: That's amazing. You still have that. I compare it to like a 1980 Pinto station wagon, right? Yeah.
Eric Anderson: yeah. Hopefully it doesn't have the same fire hazard that those cars had. But I would hope it's still a standard story today and that, , kid learns instrument by public school music program. I mean, I think that's a wonderful way to start,
Robyn Bell: You know, what I have found in a lot of these interviews is that the string players and the piano players seem to start at three and four years old. But the wind players, like me on trumpet you on clarinet. We got our start in the public school band program.
Eric Anderson: I learned piano before I learned clarinet. And so when I got to the clarinet, I was like, wow, you only have to read one staff at a time. This is easy. I love it. So, yeah, I think that kind of helped me get confident very quickly because reading the music was no problem. And. Yeah, all of my friends were in band, so it was such a fun social activity. I mean, that's why I first started was just cause it was like a really cool way to spend time with your friends. It's just playing music together and learning this new, weird instrument that you had. It was just fun.
Robyn Bell: That's a much better reason to start band than I, I started a band cause I was a huge sports fan and they told me we could get in freed all the football games with the marching band. Yeah. So your reason is better than mine.
Eric Anderson: Well in different carrots.
Robyn Bell: Yes.
Eric Anderson: yeah, so I started playing in fifth grade. You really liked it and then started taking lessons.
Robyn Bell: Let me ask you this. Were you good? Right? From the get go. Like they put it in your hand and you played there. You weren't squeaking and squawking. I mean, you like we're good right from day one.
Eric Anderson: I don't think anyone's like great. Right. Would they pick up a clarinet? But it did help that my dad had played. And so he you could correct things like very basic things. Like how I was sitting, how I was holding it, like, Oh, this finger is in the wrong place. So some of the real initial hurdles that any beginner student has. I kind of got a leg up because I got someone to sort me out straight away instead of having to wait to the next, 30 minute lesson that the band director gave me, you know, if something was like sounding horrendous at home, my dad would peek and be like, what's going on? Oh, it's because you swapped hands or something. I dunno. Something like that.
Robyn Bell: So you eventually got real lessons with a real teacher.
Eric Anderson: did. Yeah. I eventually started taking lessons in seventh grade from a woman named Bonnie Campbell, who I studied with up until 12th grade all the way through until I left for college. And she was just a phenomenal teacher. One of the best. Teachers that I've ever encountered because she was teaching some really advanced high schoolers. When I started, I remember going to her end of the year recitals and just being floored. And then she was also, starting out little pipsqueaks like, may Jude play a duet with me or something and just like the kindest warmest person and just loved music. She taught worked as a musician from such a pure place, just for the love of music. And she really believed that, this form of expression was so important to the world.
Robyn Bell: I can tell that it's really inspired and influenced you as a player and teacher.
Eric Anderson: Yeah, definitely.
Robyn Bell: And where was this in America?
Eric Anderson: This was in the suburbs of Chicago. I was really fortunate to grow up in a really amazing community that supported the arts to a phenomenal degree. So I went to New Trier High School. It's a public high school in Winnetka, Illinois. So just North of Evanston and it's a phenomenal place to grow up. Yeah, and the public school system is really strong there and they really put a high premium on the performing arts. So I had just great band teachers in middle school and high school. And then by the time I got to high school, I was really loving band, but, especially orchestra, I was really loving the orchestral repertoire.
Robyn Bell: did you play on the Chicago Youth Symphony
Eric Anderson: I played in the rival to the Chicago Youth Symphony. So I played in the Midwest Young Artists Orchestra. So the CYS I got to play downtown. I think every year they got to play at the Symphony Center in Chicago and we were up in the Northern suburbs playing But yeah, it was a great youth orchestra. The associate principal, clarinetist of the symphony, John Yeh, he would come in and do sectionals and coach the clarinet us and his daughter was actually my same year, who is now a really famous celebrity chef Molly. She has a show on the food network.
Robyn Bell: That's cool.
Eric Anderson: Yeah. So she went to Julliard and yeah, but then got really into food anyways. So that's just to say it had like a lot of really interesting people around them and yeah, a lot of the. People that were in that youth orchestra with me have gone on to do amazing things. The principal bassoonist my first year is now principal bassoon of the Metropolitan Opera principal violist is in the viola, a section of the Atlanta Symphony, people just went to great places. So it was really inspiring to be around a lot of, people that loved music and it would spend all day Saturday at this youth orchestra. You'd get there, go to theory class in the morning. You have a chamber music rehearsal either before orchestra or after orchestra. And you'd have like a three hour orchestra rehearsal every Saturday. And then some people had their lessons there. And then we had a number of concerts every year. Yeah. So that, was a great experience. But I would say like, you know, the core of my experience was really in the public school system and, I would do that on Saturdays. Sometimes have extra rehearsals on Sundays, but. Every day in high school, I would play in the chamber orchestra, which was early bird. So we'd have to get there at 7:15 and you'd rehearse until like 8:15. And then I was in symphonic, wind ensemble and symphony orchestra. So three of my periods throughout the day were performing in different school groups. So that's what I really loved to do.
Robyn Bell: And so it came time to graduate high school and go to college. And you said, I think I'll major in music.
Eric Anderson: Well, not quite I didn't think I was going to major in music until my junior year. In high school. And then I went to this amazing summer program that doesn't exist anymore, unfortunately, but it was called the National High School Music Institute and it was at Northwestern University. So it had people from all over the country and actually all over the world fly in. And they had a great band program, a great orchestra program. You got to play at Pick-Staiger Hall at Northwestern. And they had some of the Northwestern faculty work with the kids. So I, met the bass clarinetist of the Chicago Symphony that summer Lawrie Bloom, who was teaching at Northwestern. And yeah, that was really inspiring to meet him and see just how cool he was. It was just like, a laid back and nice guy that was amazing at the clarinet. So before I had thought, Oh, maybe this is just for, eccentric prodigies. And maybe this isn't the thing for me, but I think seeing somebody who was, a complete human who is also great at their craft really made me think, okay, maybe major in music, maybe this would be interesting thing to do but my mom. Said, if, you want any financial help going to college, you can't just major in music because there might be a time when you're in college where like you decide, I don't just want to play clarinet all day. I want to do something else. And I want you to be at an institution where you could transition and do something else. So like have something in your back pocket. And also you never know down the line, you might want to do something other than music. So I'd like you to have a non music degree. So the compromise was, I was allowed to major in music at a school that was within driving distance because she didn't want to have to help pay for plane tickets for every break and where I could also get another major at the same institution. So I applied to all, schools where I could do a double major.
Robyn Bell: And where did you end up going?
Eric Anderson: So I ended up going to Oberlin College and Conservatory. So I was a clarinet major and an English literature major there.
Robyn Bell: Wow. And you ended up getting a clarinet performance degree and an English literature degree. I bet that was not easy.
Eric Anderson: It was not, I mean, it was very academically challenging, but part of the reason I chose Oberlin was because they have a real program. They call it the double degree program where they really encourage their students to take on two degrees. And so the administration helps you schedule everything so that you can fit it all in. I mean, it's a lot of coursework, but there were other institutions I looked at and just the logistics of getting, , from one side of the campus to the other it would made life so hard and Oberlin, the campus is tiny. You could walk from like end to end in 15 minutes. But also my, clarinet professor, Richard Hawkins was incredibly supportive of that. And he said, yeah, if you have anything else you're interested in, you should come to Oberlin because you'll play clarinet all day long, but you'll also be able to do so many other interesting things. And he was absolutely right. I got an English degree. I took, tons of other classes, class in Chinese history class in astronomy. I took pottery classes. I learned how to tango there. I mean, just like all sorts of weird stuff.
Robyn Bell: Tango, Eric. I didn't know. You can take Tango class in college.
That's impressive. Does that count in the music degree or in the literature degree?
Eric Anderson: They had a really cool thing there called the ex-co extra curricular college. So towns people, and students could sign up to teach a class and it was only one credit but it filled out, if you just needed general credits, that was a one credit class that you could take. So yeah, tango and pottery were two of my
Robyn Bell: Okay. I love that. So you finished your degree at Oberlin, your double degree at Oberlin. And what was your next step in life?
Eric Anderson: So the next step was I went to graduate school for clarinet at the Yale School of Music. And that was for two years. And I studied with the amazing clarinet soloist, David Shifrin. So that was a really amazing experience to study with an individual who has commissioned so many clarinet concerto and chamber music pieces. He was principal clarinetist of the Dallas Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Hawaii Symphony. And then he's run his own chamber music festivals. He was the head of the Chamber Music at Lincoln Center. He had just done it all. So it was amazing to be around somebody with so much experience like
Robyn Bell: It's fascinating to me because my past three podcast interviews, Yale University has come up each time. The last interview I did was with conductors, Stephen Mulligan. Who's going to be conducting the Sarasota Orchestra. He went to, Yale and when I was interviewing him, I asked him the same question. I'm about to ask you. Do you know, my friend, Tom Duffy.
Eric Anderson: Yeah, I do. Oh my gosh. I definitely do. Yeah. He taught a post tonal theory class that I took.
Robyn Bell: Yep. So the Symphonic Band at the State College of Florida just performed a piece by him on one of our concerts. And so I called him up and I said Tom, will you come on the podcast and talk about your music and being the band director at Yale for 38 years, you know, it's sort of a big deal. And through that experience, we discovered that his brother is the Lieutenant of the Manatee County Fire and Rescue in Lakewood Ranch. And he comes here all the time to visit his brother and hang out on the Suncoast.
Eric Anderson: That's amazing. It's a small
Robyn Bell: Yeah, it is a small world. I have determined now on this podcast, anytime Yale comes up, we're going to talk about Tom Duffy.
Eric Anderson: Well, I mean, yeah. I mean, if you've gone to Yale and are musician within the last half century, you'll know Tom Duffy, for sure. Yeah.
Robyn Bell: It's so cool. And really, I use the podcast all the time to talk about the connections that we all make and how it's not even six degrees of separation in music. It's more like three degrees of separation. It's pretty fascinating. So, you've finished at Yale. You had a master's in clarinet performance.
Eric Anderson: Yeah. And that was a really stressful time because, two years goes by very quickly. Especially when you're moving to a new. Place, you know, I've moved from Ohio to Connecticut and all of a sudden it was over. And so I had auditioned to stay for an artist diploma. So I was accepted to stay on for a third year. So I was going to do that. And then I remember it was maybe a week in to my third year there. And I had just had a really busy summer playing in the Spoleto Music Festival and Tanglewood Music Festival. So I was playing orchestra all the time, lots of new music, and I was just playing and playing, playing. And then I came back to Yale and remember talking to my parents one day and saying to them, , I just wish I could get out there. I mean, I love Yale's has been a great experience, but I want to get some real experience playing in a job. And then literally that week I got a call from Richard Hawkins he said, do you play E-flat? And I said, yeah, I play E-flat. I just bought a new E-flat a year ago. I've been playing it a lot. I played it a lot this summer and he's like, great. Someone's going to call you from the Omaha Symphony. So then all of a sudden I got this. Call and they said, Hey, our E-flat player left for the year very last minute. And we're looking for somebody to maybe fill in would you be interested in coming and doing a trial and a private audition for the year? So I said, okay, so that week I flew out to Omaha, Nebraska actually played two weeks of concerts with them, played an audition for the conductor and the woodwinds, and they liked me and they said, okay, do you want to move out here for the year? So I said, okay. So I went back to the house. I was staying in and I started selling my stuff on Craigslist immediately from New Haven, packed the rest of my stuff up and then drove. Over four days, from new Haven to Omaha. And then was there for a Friday night rehearsal for a pops program that Saturday.
Robyn Bell: And for people that may be listening, they're like, what in the world are they talking about? I'm going to put this in sort of practical terms. E-flat clarinet is to the clarinet family, like Piccolo is to the flute. And just because you can play flute really well does not mean you can play piccolo really well. It takes a special person to be a piccolo player and in a symphony orchestra a person is hired just for that position. And so you were like the Piccolo player for the clarinet section when it called for E-flat clarinet, you would move to that part. An E-flat clarinet is much smaller than B flat or an, a clarinet that would normally be played in an orchestra. It's like the soprano
Eric Anderson: Sopranino
Robyn Bell: Sopranino. Yes. Oh gosh. We're using big words now. I love it. Well, eventually you end up in Sarasota on the Suncoast.
Eric Anderson: Yeah, it took me a while to get here, but yeah. , I stayed in Omaha for a year and then I won an audition for the Richmond Symphony and it was a one-year contract again that turned into two years cause I was replacing somebody that didn't come back. So stayed in Richmond, Virginia for two years. And then I moved down to Naples, Florida, which is where I live now.
Robyn Bell: And you traveled to Sarasota when work calls.
Eric Anderson: that's right. Yeah. So every winter since I've moved here in 2017, I have been playing in the Sarasota Opera Orchestra, a phenomenal group. The opera play is. Throughout the year, but they have a Opera Festival that plays from January to March. And during that time they bring in a full-time orchestra that rehearses and play as six days a week for eight weeks. So it's quite an intense experience to put together four fully stage operas. And the time that we actually have put it together, I think is like three weeks, four weeks to put together those four operas. So it's quite a lot, but. So much fun. I've loved playing that group.
Robyn Bell: Yeah, that's a really good orchestra they put together in such a fabulous organization here on the Suncoast now. Eric with the exception of the saxophone, the clarinet is a much newer woodwind instrument as say, compared to the flute or oboe or bassoon. That's just been around for centuries. And it's generally thought to have been invented around 1700. It was embraced very quickly by composers. They loved it. And Carl Stamitz was born about 45 years after that clarinet had been invented. He wrote an astounding 11 concertos for the instrument before he died in 1801. And , I have to say, I hope you agree. This fifth concerto is no easy piece, which really points to the artistry that clarinetist quickly developed during this time. Now, modern technology has really improved the clarinet. And how it's made so can you tell us back in those days, say the middle of the 18th century, what would have been some particular challenges for a clarinet player learning the concerto?
Eric Anderson: So the clarinet that they would have been using would have looked quite a bit different than the clarinet that I'll be playing on April. 22nd first. And probably foremost is the lack of keys that this instrument had. So it was quite boon that Josef Bier, who was the clarinetist that inspired Stamitz to write the piece and whom. I believe premiered it. He definitely was the muse behind the piece, but he was credited with being one of the first clarinetist to add a fifth new key to the instrument. Now, if you've looked at a clarinet, you'll quickly see that there are a lot more than five keys. So just not having the availability of extra keys to help mitigate difficult cross fingerings that you would have to use in order to play all the notes up and down the register of the clarinet. It does use a pretty full section of the clarinets different registers in this piece. So, I can't imagine trying to play this with only on my clarinet. It's just really impossible.
Robyn Bell: Reminds me a lot of the piano that was invented, around that same time we have 88 keys now, but it was much smaller then. And so when you look at Haydn or Mozart piano concertos, even Beethoven some except they don't use the whole keyboard. So it would have been the same with the clarinet. They just didn't have the number of keys. Now, what do they do? Just take a knife and whittle out a hole and say, let's add this fifth key.
Eric Anderson: I'm not completely sure, but what I believe is that there are different combinations of fingerings that you can use to covering up different holes on the instrument in order to produce different notes. Now, when you start adding different keys and maybe drilling new holes for those keys, you can alleviate the need to have so many different complex combinations of what they would call cross fingerings using different combinations. So instead of having to put a whole new finger pattern down for four or five fingers, just to have the same finger pattern, but add this new key on the side and that'll give you the new note. So it's kind of a shortcut to having to have a completely new fingering for each note.
Robyn Bell: What else can you tell us about this piece that you have found in, preparation, maybe some historical significance or something that you think our audience would really like to hear about it?
Eric Anderson: So the, pieces is really lovely. It's very light in character. And part of that goes in line with the type of compositional style that was happening at that time in Europe. So I'd say that Stamitz falls, , early classical, but perhaps even in to the Gallant style of composition, which is a style that's looking backwards towards more of a simpler time, less following stringent compositional rules. And the hallmark is a lot of very, very pleasant melodies. And you'll definitely hear that in this piece. And I think it's just a really good salve for all of the complications we're living through in this pandemic and, kind of looking back with rosy colored glasses to a simpler time is something that I, do sometimes just to de-stress myself. So I think it's a good fit to have a lighter piece. What I found was interesting, learning about the impetus for this piece was the way that the clarinetist who inspired this piece to come about how he came to the clarinet, I thought was fascinating. Apparently he was first a trumpeter and he was a trumpeter in the first Austrian army and then French army during the seven years war, then he moved to Paris where he started to become more involved in trying to learn the clarinet and then got so good at learning the clarinet that he became a very in demand soloists. And there was a time where Stamitz was in Paris. Perhaps that's where they met. He definitely is the one who influenced Stamitz to write. These concerti and he's actually credited with helping co compose one of the concerto. I can't remember which it is, it might be number seven. But in any event, I just thought that was so fascinating that somebody who had such a different life experience came and made such a profound impact on the clarinet. Later on in life, not somebody who was virtuoso on the instrument, right from the beginning. But somebody who came to it
Robyn Bell: Let me put a different twist on this for you, because you may already know this, but maybe our listeners don't. The original trumpet didn't have any keys or valves at all. And when they started to experiment so he could play chromatic notes. They actually put keys on it like a clarinet before they put buttons or valves on it. Like you think about a trumpet. And so when I think about that and I visualize those very early trumpets they were key trumpets, it kind of makes sense to me that someone would easily move from the key trumpet to the clarinet because they were kind of assembled and performed the same way. I hadn't really thought about that until you were talking.
Eric Anderson: Yeah, and I do think there's a fair amount of influence from those early trumpet instruments to the onset of the clarinet. And you can just see it in some of the ways that the clarinet is used. A lot of times in this early repertoire, it's not used like a flute is used all the time. Right. It's used kind of more in these fanfare type pieces and there's this one part that I really like, in the first movement of the concerto and every time I hear it, I think like, Oh yeah, that must be like a trumpet influence,
Robyn Bell: The other thing that really fascinated me what you were saying. Is that in rehearsing, and I'll say instrumentation wise, it's only the string section, the whole string section and two oboes and two horns. So it's not a full orchestra. It's a smaller chamber orchestra, but in rehearsing, I can't tell you the number of times I've said this is very Baroque, like Yes. The terrorist dynamics that are so Baroque, you know, when you're playingVivaldi and you play something really soft and then really loud and the call and response ideas. And as soon as I say that the string players know immediately how change that style. And so even though it's a classical piece, as you said, it's written kind of in the style that Galant style looking back, and that's exactly how we have been approaching it without you or I, even talking about it. And of course, Baroque composers never wrote for the clarinet because it was such a new instrument Baroque period ended around 1750. But here is something written maybe in that more Baroque style. Fascinating. Ah, Well, we've really enjoyed learning it as an orchestra. The melody stays stuck in your head that the oboe players have a lot, especially in that third movement. Yeah. That Rondo. And so I see when we stopped to correct something, they're like, rubbing their lips and their muscles around their mouth. It's exhausting. But how long has it taken you to learn the piece
Eric Anderson: I started listening to it a while back. I think I started, picking up the clarinet and learning the notes maybe two and a half months ago, something like that. It's been a really great piece to learn. I've never learned any of the Stamitz concertos before. I think they kind of get a bad rap in the clarinet community. I mean, I told some other people that put the clarinet, Oh, I'm playing the Stamitz Concerto and the like really you're playing Stamitz because I think, like the concerto number one is used as kind of the first, real quote, unquote, piece that you learn as a young clarinetist is just his first concerto. And then you never really look at Stamitz again. yeah, I mean, I've just been trying to listen to a whole bunch of his concertos. My wife is a violist and so they have to play a Stamitz concerto for auditions a lot. So I've listened to her play Stamitz and I've just gone on Spotify and like listen to a bunch of different concertos clarinet concertos even, but just trying to get the style and the feel of different, especially European clarinetist and how they approach it. Especially German versus French because this guy was a Austrian clarinetist living in Paris. So I think it's really interesting to think about the influence of this Austrian clarinetist, living in Paris, being influenced by the virtuoso wind playing at the time, but then. I was reading that he also, when he started meeting more German clarinetist, he got really influenced by the different sound that a German clarinet has versus a French clarinet. And so he became known for not just his virtuoso technical capabilities, but a really rounded buttery sound and known for being able to control his dynamics extremely well. So I've just been trying listen to not just this concerto, but different Stamitz, concertos, and different people, how they approach it from all over the globe. It's kind of made me fall in love with a clarinet, more to, use this piece as a way to investigate different clarinet playing
Robyn Bell: Yeah. That's a great way to look at it. And you know, Eric, all of us in the music business were affected by the pandemic. COVID-19 shut down. And I know you've done a lot of teaching because we hadn't been able to teach online. You're really good at that through zoom lessons or whatever platform a student can use, but will this be your first time performing since March, 2020?
Eric Anderson: Yeah, this will be my first live performance since playing LA volley with Sarasota opera in March of 2020. I've played online recital with my wife. Then made some recordings. Early on in the pandemic I did some intensive recording projects just for myself and to keep my chops up. But I haven't played a real concert
Robyn Bell: Well, we are honored that this will be the first one and we'll get the cobwebs dusted off. Now, speaking of the pandemic, Eric, you and I had a particularly enlightening conversation right after the pandemic hit you explained to me that during the great recession of 2008, you had just graduated from college. It was trying to find work as a musician. And now during the pandemic, all of your jobs were canceled and you really had to start to question your career choice and, looking back here and you tell the story about your mom sort of very insightful that she would say you should have a backup, but obviously we still have to earn an income and I've been so impressed with how you have handled all of this share with us what you did during the pandemic to make up for your lost wages in the music business.
Eric Anderson: Yeah. So I think what I did when the pandemic first set in is something that a lot of musicians were doing, which was how do I monetize what I can already do with all these live venues being shuttered. So, initially I ramped up the teaching online that worked for a bit. And then, I think a lot of students have just gotten fatigue from zoom learning. And I know at least here in Naples, a lot of students had dropped out of band because they couldn't go in person, so they weren't allowed to do band. So they stopped lessons. So that was one thing I tried to do. I also tried to file for unemployment and I could not believe how difficult that was and I never got unemployment from that venture. So I was trying to figure out what to do and I had been talking to a friend who went to Yale with me for clarinet, and he is now a software engineer and he, over the years said you should check out coding. I think he'd really like it, the way you approach music, I think really jives with coding. So I had been fooling around with it for a bit. And then during the pandemic, I thought, okay, let me see what this is like. Cause I certainly have the time now. So I did a couple of free online tutorials and I thought, okay, this is actually pretty interesting. I like it. And then, as this pandemic just. Kept going and going and going. And we got until the fall, I thought I was looking, into the 20, 21 season for orchestras. And there was nothing, I had zero concerts lined up. I was going to be able to possibly play in Sarasota Opera. They still didn't know at the time if they were going to do a season. So I took a big plunge and signed up for a software engineering bootcamp. They call it a bootcamp. So I did this 10 week intensive software engineering course, and then was a job hunting for a week because there's still not any performing that I've been able to do. And then I was lucky enough to get a job as a software engineer for a company in Miami called Watsco. They're an HVAC distribution company. So I've been working there for nine weeks during the day. So usually work anywhere between eight to 10 hours a day writing code. And then I shut down my computer and I'm playing clarinet for the rest of the night.
Robyn Bell: And it's probably no way to tell right now. But I'm going to ask anyway, do you see this as your continued future as software coder developer by day clarinetist by night, caped, Crusader
Eric Anderson: Hard to say I think about this so much every day and part of me is just grateful to not have to make a decision yet. But it's just really hard to say. I think one thing people don't like to talk about as a musician is how financially hard it can be to be a musician. I mean, I had these jobs and Omaha and Richmond and. I was not making a ton of money, but it was a solid living with a paycheck that came every two weeks on health insurance. And that was amazing. And then I moved down here and my wife got great job in the Naples Philharmonic, and I was trying to get my own career going and, by the winter of 2020 before the pandemic, I had gotten a pretty good freelance thing going in Florida, but that's like driving from Naples to Jacksonville, to Sarasota, to Miami. That's a lot of time on the road. That's a lot of miles to put on your car. That's a lot of, spending two weeks at home with doing nothing, but teaching and then all of a sudden you're on the road and no health insurance. I mean, , it's a lot and I'm 31 now that's fine for when you're in your twenties. But if you're trying to, build wealth and maybe start a family, that's, really hard to, keep going. So I'm liking the stability of this job, but I am really missing playing music, like something crazy. Yeah, no, there's just nothing that replaces that. So I think, I'll just have to see how, much I continue to like this job and how much my missing of performing with other people grows and see how, much I can tolerate all of that.
Robyn Bell: Well, maybe our upcoming performance on April 22nd with the Bradenton Symphony Orchestra will light a little fire there again, make you remember what it's like to perform, remarkable. What you've done though, to sustain yourself. You are absolutely to be commended for that. Now, Eric, I have a couple of rapid fire questions for you. This is the most fun part of the podcast, and , if you're not sitting down, I need you to sit down, yup. Buckle up some deep breaths. And here we go. or what do you . To play clarinet in an opera or clarinet in a symphony. that surprises me. All right. Mr. Chicago, man, Chicago deep dish pizza mahi, mahi.
All day, all day Rhapsody in Blue solo or Rachmaninov second symphony solo,
Eric Anderson: For sure.
Robyn Bell: right Siesta Key. Or Anna Maria Island.
The E-flat clarinet, the clarinet or the B-flat clarinet.
Eric Anderson: Oh, I can't do that one rapidly. I guess the, a clarinet.
Robyn Bell: Yeah, All right. Does it play like better in tune, feel more natural to you?
Eric Anderson: I think. the a clarinet can give you that virtuosity and that fire that the other two clarinets can give you, but it has like a richness and mellowness and tambour
Robyn Bell: Yeah. Being that, half step lower in Yeah. It gives you, yeah, I understand that. I've never played the clarinet or the E-flat clarinet going through college. We had to play the B-flat clarinet. And of course, all the students, when you like beginning band that's the typical one you start on. Was it like as a trumpet player? When I got into college, had to learn how to play C trumpet. I had to learn how to play Piccolo trumpet. I can imagine it's the same thing you think. Oh, it's just another instrument, but it's like a whole separate beast to learn all those clarinets. Right.
Eric Anderson: B flat in a it's basically the same. It's fine, but E-flat. Very different bass clarinet different universe. That's like a lifetime Odyssey mastering the bass clarinet. I just bought one actually in the summer of 2019, I bought a bass clarinet and I was playing more of that freelancing and
Robyn Bell: yeah, and that is something also, I think trumpet players and clarinet players have in common because as a trumpet player, you own like three or four trumpets. And as a clarinet player, you have to have a plethora of instruments depending on what the composer.
Eric Anderson: I remember watching a friend of mine do a mock audition, for trumpet. And I was floored by how many trumpets she needed on stage. I just couldn't believe it. I think that day I was playing a mock audition for her, where I had A B flat and E flat. And I was like, sorry, this is going to take me a long time to set up. And she was like, Oh, don't worry. Just wait until I have to play mine. She just had like a forest of trumpets behind her.
Robyn Bell: Yeah, it's not cheap. You have to buy the good ones, you know, so yeah. Well it goes back to our money discussion. Okay. Here is your last question. Eric
Eric Anderson: Roundabouts. Yeah. I love the confusion that they cause. Yeah, exactly. As long as nobody actually gets in an accident,
Robyn Bell: Well, congratulations, Eric you are now officially part of the club. The clarinet students at the State College of Florida are so fortunate to have you as their teacher. And I cannot wait to get you to rehearsal next week for the Stamitz Clarinet Concerto. Number Five, that you will perform with us on Thursday, April 22nd. At 7:30 PM. In the Neel Performing Arts Center, SCF students, faculty and staff can attend in person, but all other patrons will watch on our SCF Music Facebook page. It is just going to be stellar. And I have no doubt you are going to steal the show from Mr. Beethoven. And when we come back, I'm going to discuss the other two pieces on our program. The Brahms Hungarian Dance Number Five, and the Ludwig van Beethoven Symphony, Number Five, back after this break.
Robyn Bell: Welcome back to the Suncoast Culture Club, where today we are talking about the upcoming Bradenton Symphony Orchestra concert called Quintessential celebrating the BSOs fifth season. We just finished speaking to our clarinet soloist, Eric Anderson, who will be performing the Carl Stamitz Clarinet Concerto Number Five. And for this half of the podcast, I'm going to go solo and talk about the other three pieces on the program. Johann Sebastian Bach, Brandenburg Concerto Number Five, performed by the SCF Presidential String Quartet, Johannes Brahms Hungarian Dance Number Five performed by the full orchestra and the one and only Ludwig van Beethoven Symphony Number Five.
Our opening piece on this program is the Brandenburg Concerto Number Five by Johann Sebastian Bach, and will be performed by the SCF Presidential String Quartet, which consists of Amely Wackerbauer on first violin, Aaron D'Zurilla on second violin. Lucy Crank on viola and Nick Welch on cello. These four students are on a full scholarship through the SCF Foundation to perform for college functions and community events, but COVID has put quite the strain on their normal, robust performance schedule. So I asked them to perform on this concert and the Brandenburg Concerto Number Five fits in very nicely. In case you were wondering, Bach wrote six Brandenburg concertos. So this is the second to last one. We call them the Brandenburg concertos because Bach dedicated the collection of six concertos to the Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg whose older brother eventually became King of Prussia. Originally written by Bach around 1721, the Brandenburg Concerto was meant to be a trio solo for violin, flute, and harpsichord. We call that a concerto Grosso, which means large solo section since there are three soloists and not one. In the arrangement you will hear at the concert, all of the solo parts have been written out for the string quartet members to play. And I think you will quickly recognize the main tune. Here, take a listen to the oldest piece on the program from 1721. Here's a snippet of Johann Sebastian Bach Brandenburg Concerto, Number Five.
Our second selection on the Quintessential Concert is the very famous and for composer Johannes Brahms, extremely profitable Hungarian Dance Number Five. Written about 150 years after the Brandenburg concertos during the Romantic period of music, German born composer Johannes Brahms wrote this set of 21 Hungarian dances after having met the Hungarian violinist Ede Reményi, and subsequently accompanied him on piano for recitals over the next several years. Ede provided Brahms his introduction to gypsy style music, which Brahms used as the foundation for his 21 Hungarian dances set. One of the things that makes the fifth dance so fun to listen to is how it keeps you on your toes. You're going along to this very catchy melody, and then the melody suddenly stops and a whole new melody in a completely different tempo is introduced. It keeps the short dance interesting, engaging, and fun to play. Many conductors make many different decisions and choices on what to do with the tempos. So there's no one right or wrong way to do it. If you don't recognize the actual main melody of the dance, you will most certainly recognize the feel and flavor of the Hungarian melodies and dance styles. Take a listen to a portion of Johannes Brahms, Hungarian Dance Number Five from his set of 21 Hungarian Dances written in 1879.
The next piece on the program is the Carl Stamitz Clarinet Concerto with guest artist, Eric Anderson. And since we discussed that piece in the first half of the podcast, I'll move right along to the other star of the show. Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony Number Five. To get an idea of timing on this, we said that Bach's piece was written in 1721. The Stamitz Clarinet Concerto was probably written around 1780. So about 60 years after Bach's piece. And then about 20 years later, Beethoven begins to pen his Fifth Symphony. I say he began to pen in because it took him four years to complete it. He started it in 1804 and finished it in 1808. It was premiered on December 22nd. 1808 in Vienna, Austria, where it was bitterly cold and put on a program that lasted almost four hours and also included Beethoven's Six Symphony. Yes, Beethoven Symphony Number Five and Symphony Number Six were premiered on the exact same concert. Let's not forget that the orchestra had had only one rehearsal before the concert and Beethoven who was nearly deaf by this point, tried to conduct. By all accounts from everybody in attendance that cold, long winter evening, the performance was a disaster. Beethoven even had to stop and restart at one point. This piece could have easily died right there, but great music will thrive and stand the test of time. The Fifth Symphony was performed on the first concert of the New York Philharmonic in 1842 and the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC in 1931.
It's important to understand what was going on in Beethoven's life and in the world. At the time when he wrote this symphony. Beethoven was in his mid thirties and was becoming increasingly more deaf, which was obviously troublesome to him. This is also the time following the American Revolution when the Napoleonic Wars broke out. Vienna, where Beethoven wrote the symphony was in political turmoil and Napoleon's troops had taken over the city. Beethoven was particularly troubled by this. As he had thought Napoleon to be a different kind of leader, even dedicating his Third Symphony to him. So suffice it to say he was not a happy man, personally, politically or professionally.
A cornerstone in Western music and considered to be one of the best known compositions in all of classical music, this symphony is most famous for it's short, short, short, long motive that runs through all four movements, truly the first time this cyclical idea of taking a theme or motive and utilizing it over and over shows itself. I like to think about it like John Williams' approach to writing the music for Star Wars. Every time Darth Vader appears on the screen, you hear his theme song. This is a very similar idea, but of course, Beethoven did it long before John Williams did. I know you will instantly recognize this short, short, short, long motive, but I want to play some excerpts for you, so you will recognize it in more than just the first movement, but let's start there. Here are the opening measures of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.
Yes. You all know this. It's very familiar to you. Now let's listen to bit of the main theme of the second movement, which, like all second movements, is slow making all the notes of the motive a little longer, but you will still hear the short, short, short, long idea.
Not only does Beethoven put the motive in the melody, but he also has a neat little filler section that the cellos play, which hints very strongly at the motive here, take a listen to the cellos, playing this filler type of music and I think you'll. Hear what I'm talking about.
The third movement. Oh, the short, short, short, long motive is much more pronounced. Listen to the opening section of the third movement. And you will definitely hear the French horn section playing what has come to be known as the fate motive that short, short, short, long.
One of the most interesting things about the construction of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is that the third movement and the fourth movement are connected. There's no pause in the final two moments where the third movement would normally come to an end. And then the fourth moment would start fresh. Instead Beethoven writes this incredible transition and keeps the music going. In fact, the transition from the third movement to the fourth movement is widely considered one of the greatest musical transitions of all time. And besides having no pause, the other appealing thing about the transition into the fourth movement is that it takes us to C major instead of C minor as the tonality of the key. C minor is the key of the opening movement. And during this time period, every audience member would have expected the final movement to be in the same key as the first, but no Beethoven is going to end this symphony and the triumphant key of C major. Take a listen at this transition from the end of the third movement to the beginning of the fourth movement. And you will definitely hear when the fourth movement begins.
Of course, Beethoven would not let the finale movement end without bringing back the short, short, short, long fate motive. And sure enough, he brings it back in its fastest form in the entire symphony. Take a listen to the section of the finale, the fourth moment, and you will hear the motive over and over passed through all of the instruments.
Ending on a series of repeated C major chords. This symphony takes us from sad and mad to hopeful and triumphant. As you listened to the performance, keep checking in on the emotional reactions you're having to the music. And I think you will notice the sheer joy that will come over you as the fourth movement begins and takes us all the way to the end.
So join the Bradenton symphony orchestra on Thursday, April 22nd at 7:30 PM in the Neel Performing Arts Center as we pay tribute to our fifth season with this wonderful program of fives called Quintessential Bach's Brandenburg Concerto Number Five, Brahms Hungarian Dance Number Five, Stamitz Clarinet Concerto Number Five was soloist Eric Anderson and the Beethoven Symphony Number Five. All SCF students, faculty and staff can hear the performance live in the Neel Performing Arts Center while all others can view the concert, through the SCF Music Facebook page. I look forward to seeing you all there. Thanks for joining me today on the Suncoast Culture Club podcast.