Classical Music Buzz > Blog – Anthony McGill
Blog – Anthony McGill
Principal Clarinet | New York Philharmonic
26 Entries

I recently had the pleasure of recording the Mozart and Brahms Quintets with the Pacifica Quartet. We performed together a few times and after a particular concert in Chicago, Jim Ginsburg of Cedille Records mentioned that he’d love to have us record the Brahms and Mozart Quintets for the company. We said yes immediately! The recording process took place over a few days at Indiana University and in New York at Suny Purchase. It was a really intense process and a very enlightening one.

Playing each of these works changes how you make music because the intensity you put into them makes you reexamine how to phrase, how to use different tone colors, and how to listen with an open heart. We worked with Judy Sherman and she was fabulous, letting us play through the piece many times so it felt like we had many different performances to choose from. Working with the Pacifica Quartet was amazing as they are extremely serious artists, great people, and they really put everything into their playing all the time. This was an adventure that I’ll never forget and I look forward to exploring these pieces for the rest of my life.

Cheers,

Anthony

Care to listen?

1. Mozart & Brahms: Clarinet Quintets on Amazon
2. Mozart & Brahms: Clarinet Quintets on iTunes

Tags: Anthony McGill (Clarinet) ; Clarinet ;
3 years ago |
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Pacifica Quartet and Anthony McGill play Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet, Second Movement

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4 years ago |
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Some of my Facebook friends saw my post the other day about the thank you cards I received in the mail from the second graders at Pine Street Elementary School in Spartanburg, SC. I will dedicate the first post of my new site to them. How this amazing gift came about is kind of interesting. I am appearing with the Spartanburg Philharmonic in a couple weeks but I was asked to go down three months prior to do outreach at local schools and a donor event for the orchestra. Sarah Ioannides, http://sarahioannides.net/ my former classmate at Curtis and colleague at the Cincinnati Symphony is the music director and I am super excited to work with her. I agreed to this trip on the basis that it would be really fun to meet children in the area and in a way become a temporary member of the community. I went to a bunch of schools in the two days that I was there and it was really wonderful. The kids gave me so much energy and spirit and it made me realize once again that what we do as artists and is extremely important. It is important because we connect to each other. We communicate with each other. We share with one another. This brings us closer and makes us more human, more beautiful, more connected. When I received the cards (all 50 of them) it showed me that the energy, positivity and musical experience that we enjoyed together will always be with us. This changes us, makes us better humans, better neighbors and friends. The music stops but the experience keeps us alive and keeps our spiritual hearts beating.

The drawings and comments on the cards were very cute and funny. Some of my favorite quotes are below:

“Thank you so much for the misic that you played it was alsome”

“You are nice at playing the clarinet”

“I love you the clarinet has butfelnots”

“You are a blast thank you for coming”

“I love music. I have a vilan sometimes I mess up too. Because my stister messt me up!!!!!” (my favorite)

“Thank you Mr. migile”

This made my year.

Thank you kids,

Anthony

5 years ago |
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So yes I did just wake up at 6 and decide to write this post. And no I don’t normally do this. As my mom said over the weekend, you know Anthony you haven’t updated your blog in I don’t know how long. And well so much for that free will thing. Mama still knows best. So in honor of James Altucher, awesome blogger, I’m gonna try and go back to bed by doing a list.

TOP TEN THINGS I DID OVER THE LAST 6 MONTHS. In chronological order.

  1. Played a concerto with my big brother with his former orchestra the San Diego Symphony.
    Danzi Duo Concerto. An awesome experience playing with one of the best flutists in the world! Currently Principal Flute of the Seattle Symphony.
  2. Toured Japan with the Metropolitan Opera.
    This one was a challenge to have take place because of all the cancellations over radiation fears. It ended up being a tremendous success because we gave music and hope where they were fighting to have a sense of normalcy after a huge disaster.
  3. Coached students at the Verbier Festival.
    Talk about beauty. I love Switzerland.
  4. Coached students at CCM Spoleto.
    Ok, talk again about beauty. I love Italy as well.
  5. Coached students at the Bowdoin Festival.
    Maine is pretty nice too.
  6. Toured Europe with Mitsuko Uchida and friends playing Schoenberg.
    Played the Salzburg Festival and recorded a DVD for the Schoenberg Institute about the piece. Awesome.
  7. Oh cool my lucky number. Played Tanglewood with Yo-Yo Ma and Manny Ax.
    Brahms Trio is the best piece in the world. Sorry other best pieces in the world, this is a short blog post.
  8. Coming to the end of the list. Give props to The Kingston Festival, Bridgehampton Festival and Bay Chamber Festival for being awesome as well.
    Played cool pieces and most importantly I really ate some GOOD food this summer. Allen’s Seafood. Voted best Lobster by Anthony McGill 2011.
  9. Played the Mozart Quintet with the Brentano String Quartet.
    Concert in Houston at Da Camera. Awesome piece, awesome people, awesome time.
  10. Wow I can’t believe this may have actually worked!!! Played the Mozart Concerto with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra
    So this was the catalyst in my sleep. Best part of the whole trip was visiting the kids at a program called Kids in Tune. It is Kalamazoo Symphony’s new program to help keep music alive. Check out the link here. These kids are the future. Actually, duh, Anthony, all kids are the future. So how about we give them all a chance.http://www.mlive.com/entertainment/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2011/08/kalamazoo_symphony_orchestra_l.html
  11. 1/2. I like Kalamazoo. The people are nice. Check this out. I bet you haven’t heard of the Kalamzoo Promise. You won’t believe it.
    https://www.kalamazoopromise.com/10things/10ThingsYouNeedtoKnowBasically because of generous donors, any kid that attends k-12 in Kalamazoo and get’s into any public university in Michigan gets a full ride to college. Yes, seriously. Check it out. There is hope everywhere, well, definitely in Kalamazoo.
  12. plus the other 1/2. I’m stretching it here. Drum Roll. The real reason I loved Kalamazoo so much.
    http://www.mlive.com/entertainment/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2011/10/clarinetist_anthony_mcgill_wow.htmlThanks for listening and maybe there should be something called America’s Promise. That every kid can go to college for free. Just a thought. ??

Cheers,

A

6 years ago |
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I woke up this morning wanting to play something about the events in Japan and the emotions surrounding this tragedy. I knew I couldn’t put it into words so I thought I would improvise something. This is my tribute to the country of Japan, my friends there, the families of friends here and there and everyone else affected by this terrible event. Please forgive the sound and my unfamiliarity with doing something like this as it was recorded in my living room on garageband. Click the player below to hear. Love to Japan.

[audio:http://anthonymcgill.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Japan11.mp3|titles=Japan1]
Tags: Anthony McGill (Clarinet) ; Clarinet ;
6 years ago |
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Here is the great piece WGN did surrounding my recent Chicago performances and events. Thank you Rick Strasser and Dean Richards at WGN!

http://www.wgntv.com/videobeta/f585d4ba-ae46-4516-a486-8e09db702562/News/Chicago-clarinetist-sits-center-stage-alongside-world-renowned-musicians

Tags: Anthony McGill (Clarinet) ; Clarinet ;
6 years ago |
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Hanging out with Yo Yo and Manny Ax in the Windy City!

click photo to enlarge

This past weekend I had the honor to play the Brahms Clarinet Trio with Yo Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax at Symphony Center in Chicago. It was a wonderful experience. The concert was the pinnacle of a weekend celebrating the launch of the Yo Yo Ma/Chicago Symphony’s Citizen Musician Initiative. The concept is a wonderfully simple one to grasp and hopefully will begin a movement to spread the gift of music to the largest amount of people. We went around to different places in the city, played, talked and spread music and friendship all over the place.

So what did I do exactly and why is it important?

I woke up Saturday and went to The Parkway Community Center and played for and talked with kids about the power of music and what meaning it had in my life. I had fun just spending time together and letting them know that I discovered at their age what I loved to do and went for it all the way. I grew up on the South Side of Chicago and I understand the struggles of so many young people. We discussed how you can focus your energies on positive people and positive endeavors to achieve your goals in life. My medium was music but the process is the same in all areas of life. We had a great time and then were off to the next destination.

We arrived at the Chicago Public Schools All-City Band rehearsal at Saucedo high and totally took them for surprise. I hopped up on stage and sat in during the rehearsal.  We first played Granada and then I got up, did a little talk/Q and A and then sat right back down. I put in a request for Thriller which I heard on the way in and we rocked out!!! This was so awesome because they totally could see me as a teenager no different than them, playing in the band and having fun. Well, they are all taller than me anyway!

We said our goodbyes, shared some photos and then headed downtown to meet up with the others for a talk and official launch of the initiative.

click to enlarge

I truly believe the concept that we are all apart of the same community is an important one psychologically for arts organizations and I applaud the CSO and other organizations such as my childhood home, the Merit School of Music, for believing in it’s importance. This approach can indeed change the way we perform, listen and reach out to others. The more we connect with one another on an individual level, whether professionals or amateurs, young or old, the more music will become important to us and vital to our modern world. Read the reviews and articles about this very special weekend below and visit www.citizenmusician.org for more info.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/ct-live-0201-ma-review-20110131,0,5184194.column

http://music.newcity.com/2011/01/31/human-nature-the-cso%E2%80%99s-citizen-musician-initiative-addresses-our-universal-need-to-make-music/

http://chicagoclassicalreview.com/2011/01/yo-yo-ma-and-friends-launch-new-cso-project-and-seal-it-with-memorable-concert/

www.suntimes.com/entertainment/3586837-421/chicago-center-mcgill-saturday-cso.html

Cheers!

Anthony

6 years ago |
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It has been months and months since I last wrote on this blog. Many notes have been played but none written in far too long. In fact it had been so long that I forgot my password for this site!!!  I want to jump back in by writing about a highlight of the fall season for me. The one that changed my life is the run of Pelleas with None other than Sir Simon Rattle. There are moments in one’s life where you can feel something changing within yourself. This was one of those moments. The rehearsal period was fairly extensive, about two weeks worth and there were only 5 performances. It’s really hard to know where to start but I’d love to examine why these particular rehearsals and performances were so wonderful.

Let’s start with the conductor. Simon Rattle communicates music through his hands, face and body as though he were a Stradivarius violin. This in turn allows us musicians to play similarly. He inspires with every gesture and glance, the seriousness or levity of the music. In rehearsals he is a great communicator and serious musician but you could also tell he was a generous person. I guess it didn’t hurt that he offered us a wine and cheese reception after the last rehearsal. Bribery always works with orchestras! His rhythm and stick technique are wonderful but mainly he communicates through every pore, the essence of music.

Debussy’s masterpiece Pelleas et Melisande is something quite elusive to many and, I must admit, not exactly my favorite opera before this moment. I knew it was beautiful but I didn’t know it had the ability to move me the way that it did. I ask myself, what was it about these performances that changed me. The color, tension, resolution, peaks and valleys of the work came alive to the point that I believed I was apart of some strange, alien, musical organism. I know this sounds strange but I remember the moment in one performance where I lost myself in a wave of energy that took me out of my body. It was wonderful. The vibration of the music and the spirit with which it was played created an atmosphere where this was possible and I was overwhelmed by a level of emotion I had never felt.

I had the pleasure about a month ago to also sit on a panel with Ara Guzelimian and Michael Gilbert for the League of American Orchestras and one of the questions was, “What makes a great concert?”  All of the following were offered up. Good playing, good music, great energy etc. These are all true and yet there is something more that is a bit indescribable. The troubling part is that it only happens in that particular moment and one cannot recreate it at any other moment. It is a wonderfully present experience that makes one feel very alive and is more special than the present that is fleeting and average. I suppose scientifically and simply it has something to do with dopamine being released in the brain when we hear lovely tones but I think that it is beyond that as well. Suffice it to say the performance was amazing and was as close to” love in sound” as I’ve ever been. Many of us that were there for these performances including the singers, audience, chorus and conductor, felt that something special happened on those beautiful evenings.

Go, download Pelleas, and while on your computer, read the libretto once, then go listen to it again. You may realize that the beauty of not knowing why you loved something, as I struggle in these words to describe it,  maybe makes us more human.   As Goland says,  Je ne sais pas… Je suis perdu aussi.    How can I tell? – For I too am astray.

Cheers!

Anthony

6 years ago |
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The video is up and live! Enjoy! We appear a few minutes in on the clip.

http://beta.wnyc.org/thegreenespace/events/2010/jun/24/caramoor-festival-sneak-peek/

7 years ago |
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The title refers to what Paquito D’Rivera yelled at the end of our performance last evening at WNYC’s The Greene Space. This was an awesome experience and I hope the first of many new opportunities that I will experience in this lifetime. I’m playing a concert at the Caramoor International Music Festival on July 8th and last night was a preview of the festival where I luckily and surprisingly was teamed up with Paquito D’Rivera! We played his Contradanza for two clarinets and piano and it was so much fun. At the soundcheck we ran through the piece a couple of times and then he mentioned a part of the piece that was not written in the music. Immediately I thought back to one of my earlier posts about not reading the notes and was like, ok here it is! Little did I know that I’d be improvising in public for the first time on live radio streamed live over the internet, but hey, you only live once (or twice)! There was also a bit of stomping thrown in as well. The piece was only a few minutes long but it was such a rush and I don’t remember most of it, especially not the bit where we went off on our own for the longest 16 bars of my life. It was a real thrill to be up on stage with one of the greatest latin jazz clarinetists in the world, not to mention the composer of the work. His personality was bigger than life and I felt an energy like no other radiating from his being that was invigorating. This was what he does everyday and for me it was  new and different yet very familiar in some way. Of course he knew that this was not what I did regularly but he never hinted at it or mentioned it, probably because to him music is music the way it should be.

He told a story about when he was a kid; the two recordings that he listened to the most were Benny Live at Carnegie with his band and Benny playing the Mozart Concerto. He said he was so confused. He chose to just play music and it happened to be predominately jazz. In the end we are all just musicians after all. My program this summer at Caramoor has a French theme and especially Debussy and Stravinsky (not French but a composer like others with a French soul) were influenced by jazz. Unfortunately Paquito will not be making a guest appearance on my concert but I will think of this always. This experience will forever shape how I approach all kinds of music. The energy and spontaneity was so real. I give thanks for experiences like this.

Cheers and yes, I made it!

Anthony

7 years ago |
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