GAMBIER — The spring concert of the Knox County Symphony will bring the distinctive cradling warmth and gentle melancholy of Brahms’ “German Requiem,” filled out with the dusky beauty of a new A clarinet. The instrument, slightly longer, lower and darker sounding than a standard B-flat clarinet, is a standard part of orchestras which the Knox County Symphony has never before had. The new instrument comes thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation of Mount Vernon and Knox County.
This year’s Knox County Symphony Gala will be held Saturday, May 8, at the Mount Vernon Country Club.
“The Knox County Symphony has provided decades of musical enrichment for local concert-goers,” said Sam Barone, executive director of the philanthropic organization. “The Community Foundation is pleased to be able to provide funds for this exquisite instrument that will significantly enhance the symphony’s repertoire.”
Symphony conductor Dr. Benjamin Locke said that having a clarinet of that type and quality has greatly enhanced the orchestra in terms of their quality of sound, ensemble accuracy and intonation.
The instrument, a French-made Buffet Crampon R13 Prestige A Clarinet, is made of high-quality M’pingo wood, with precision-crafted silver keys and metal rings around the instrument’s tenon joints to help prevent cracking of the wood as it ages. It has an adjustable thumb rest and an extension lever for extra low notes.
In Sunday’s concert, the instrument will be played by Kenyon College sophomore Marika Garland, originally from Downer’s Grove, Ill., who said she loves playing an instrument with such a great, deep tone. She said the keys are in the same layout as those of a standard B-flat clarinet, but that its extra size calls for a little more air from the player.
Baritone soloist for the Brahms will be 2008 Kenyon graduate Sean Hoffman, who majored in political science and will begin law school in Chicago this fall. During his time at Kenyon, Hoffman was heavily involved in music, taking voice lessons from Locke and Nancy Jantsch, winning the Greenslade Prize in Performance in 2005 and being selected as one of the winners of the Symphony’s Young Musicians Competition in 2007 and 2008.
Soprano Elizabeth Boskovitch has a master of music degree in vocal pedagogy and sacred music from Westminster Choir College. Further studies and performances have taken her as far as Vienna, Austria; Budapest, Hungary; and Kosice, Slovakia. Boskovitch is the music director at Mulberry Street United Methodist Church in Mount Vernon and is on the adjunct voice faculty at Otterbein College and Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
Locke will be conducting the work, performed in its original German, “Ein Deutsches Requiem,” by the Kenyon Community Choir and the Knox County Symphony. Unlike traditional settings of the mass, Brahms’ work is focused on providing solace to mourners instead of dwelling on the terror of death or the unknowns of the afterlife, and has become one of the most beloved concert works in the repertoire.
The Community Foundation of Mount Vernon and Knox County is comprised of 280 unrestricted, designated, scholarship and donor advised funds. Founded in 1944 as the Mount Vernon Community Trust, the foundation last year awarded more than $1.3 million in combined grants, and added more than $2.8 million in contributions to its endowment. The foundation is governed by a board of 12 community volunteers.
The concert will take place Sunday at 8 p.m. in Rosse Hall on the campus of Kenyon College in Gambier. Tickets will be available at the door.