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A clarinet summit at Summit Church

Artie Shaw performs in 1939’s “Dancing Co-Ed.” (Courtesy of IMDb)
Duo reunites for ‘Music of the Americas’

Thursday, May 23, happens to be the 114th birthday anniversary of famous jazz clarinetist Artie Shaw. What better way to celebrate a larger-than-life American musician than to play his exhilarating Clarinet Concerto in B-flat major?

Helen Goode

That’s exactly what California clarinetist Helen Goode and pianist Cynthia Bauhof-Williams will do in a free recital at 7 p.m. May 23 at Summit Church in Durango. In a stroke of good luck, they will be joined by Fort Lewis College percussion professor John O’Neal for the riveting Shaw concerto.

“Music of the Americas” sums up a colorful program of works by Scott Joplin, Paquito d’Rivera, Arturo Marquez and Leonard Bernstein’s “Clarinet Sonata.” Composed in 1942, it’s a perfect companion to Shaw’s concerto and it pre-figures Bernstein’s most famous work “West Side Story.”

“Helen and I met over 15 years ago when we played in a woodwind trio called ‘The Wilder Trio,’” Bauhof-Williams said. “Over the years we have wanted to play a recital together, so when I retired to Durango, I invited the trio to present a concert at Fort Lewis.”

Subsequent visits led to the idea of a duo recital, Bauhof-Williams said.

“Helen performed the Marquez ‘Zarabandeo’ for a master class in Alabama, and our program evolved into several South of the Border compositions,” she said. “To go along with Shaw, we added the Bernstein ‘Clarinet Sonata.’ It incorporates many Latin rhythms. So does Scott Joplin’s ‘Solace,’ based on Habanera rhythms.”

If you go

WHAT: Music of the Americas: Clarinet and Piano Recital with Helen Goode, Cynthia Bauhof-Williams and John O’Neal.

WHEN: 7 p.m. May 23.

WHERE: Summit Church, 2917 Aspen Drive.


MORE INFORMATION: Contact Cynthia Bauhof-Williams at cabwpiano@gmail.com.

Born and musically trained in England, Goode moved to California for an MFA in clarinet performance at UCLA. She teaches at California State University – Long Beach and Los Angeles campuses. Both she and Bauhof-Williams have performed with the LA Philharmonic and other professional California ensembles.

Cynthia Bauhof-Williams

Bauhof-Williams earned her DMA from USC and taught at Pasadena City College. She has performed throughout the United States and in Europe as a soloists and with various professional organizations.

Professor O’Neal is chairman of Performing Arts at FLC. He holds a DMA in Percussion Performance from the University of North Texas and is Principal Timpanist with the San Juan Symphony.

John O’Neal

If you listen to the many recordings of Artie Shaw’s Concerto on YouTube, you’ll discover different constellations – for symphonic orchestra, wind ensemble, jazz orchestra and a piano reduction with percussion. The Israel Philharmonic version with clarinetist Yevgeny Yehudin is singular. The work is so energetic and life-giving that the orchestral musicians can’t help but smile and jiggle throughout. It’s eight minutes long and brims with the joy of life.

So, celebrate Shaw’s 114th birthday by showing up. It’s a free recital. How rare.

Artie Shaw

Artie Shaw was born in New Haven, Connecticut, on May 23, 1904. At 15, he left home and began to tour as a jazz musician, and he became both famous and notorious in his long life.

He changed his name from Arthur Arshawsky at the beginning of an illustrious career as a clarinet virtuoso, legendary band leader, composer, even actor and author of fiction and nonfiction.

Beyond music, Shaw hobnobbed in Los Angeles and married eight women, three of whom were Hollywood stars: Lana Turner, Ava Gardner and Evelyn Keyes. In 1940, he recorded his “Clarinet Concerto,” and ultimately won a lifetime Grammy Award in 2004. In a rare moment of self-disclosure, he described himself as “a difficult man.” He died of natural causes on Dec. 30, 2004, at age 94.

Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theatre Critics Association.