Grammy Award winner teaches class at Guzzetta

By Julie Mullet

Three-time Grammy Award winner and principal clarinetist of the Milwaukee Symphony Todd Levy visited The University of Akron to present a master class.

Around 20 people attended Levy’s class on Nov. 13 in Guzzetta Hall. During the class, five UA students went to the front of the room one by one and performed a song each. The students warmed up with a few scales, and then dove into their pieces, giving it all they had for the clarinet expert who observed them.

Upon finishing their songs, Levy would help the students to improve by giving tips, playing through parts of the songs himself as an example, and fine-tuning the way they played. Levy shared his extensive knowledge on the context and history of the music and composers to help each student better understand the song they played.

Additionally, he offered advice on articulation, note intervals, and even the maintenance of the clarinet. Levy spent about 15 minutes with each student as an eager audience took notes on his expert advice.

Student performers were Emily Jo Spinelli playing Concerto No. 2 in E-flat major, Op. 74 by Carl Maria von Weber; Tyler Ferguson playing Sonata Andantino — Vivace e leggiero by Leonard Bernstein; Valerie Breda playing Premiere Rhapsodie by Claude Debussy; Yurina Berrios playing Concerto by Aaron Copland; and Olivia Steinman playing Concerto, Op. 57 Cadenzas by Carl Nielson.

Ferguson stated why he liked his performance piece. “I think it’s interesting. It’s different from all the things I’ve played before,” he explained.

Seated in the classroom was Kristina Jones, who orchestrated the event.

Jones is the Advisor of NorthEast Ohio Clarinet Association (NEOCA) and a Professor of Clarinet. She explained why Levy was invited to work with students at UA.

“Students need to be exposed to working professionals in the field and to hear their stories of how they achieved success, in person, as well as to be inspired by and learn from their musicianship,” Jones said.

Students and attendees of the event gained valuable knowledge from an expert in his area. Levy has also performed at Carnegie Hall and the White House and has published three educational books/CDs of clarinet competition pieces.

The class was free and open to the public and it was hosted by the North East Ohio Clarinet Association. NEOCA sponsors about four educational events, recitals, and workshops a year that feature the clarinet.