GREEN BAY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Brown County

Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: Clarinetist goes travelin’ with finesse in Green Bay

Critic At Large

Screenshot of Eric Hansen in the midst of Monday evening’s “6:30 Concert Series” at UW-Green Bay.

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – With so many restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the thought of travel sounds good. Monday evening, a university professor traveled with his clarinet and took listeners along on a livestream concert.

What happened was part of the adventurous “6:30 Concert Series” offered by University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Music as a way to bring its faculty talent to the public. It’s a way to let the community know what exists on campus – teachers who can perform and explain on an elevated level as building blocks of culture in the region.

The program, “Travel in Place with Clarinetist Eric Hansen,” was a travelogue in a broad sense.

The first work covered a lot of places with musical pictures. The second work was a trip of the mind. The third work took listeners soaring with birds. And the final work envisioned flourishes of exhilarating dance.

Introducing the second work, “The Jungle,” Eric Hansen put on a teacher’s cap with an explanation that defined degree of difficulty: Composer Eric Mandat uses “extended techniques, which include, by the way, multiphonics, quarter tones, a lot of special effects and also mixed-meter stuff as well as giving the performer a role in deciding how many repeats of something or changing around that’s going on.

“(Multi phonics) are tricky to learn. Basically, the main idea of a multiphonic is: As a student you try to learn to play in one register or the other. We get squeaks on clarinet when we play too high in the high register. A multiphonic requires the performer to balance two registers. It always feels like balancing a penny on the edge of a knife blade. You never know when it’s going to fall on one side or the other. So you sort of have to do it wrong on purpose to get both registers to come out at the same time.”

Eric Hansen set off on a trip through sounds akin to an ebb and flow on a shoreline in a breeze – notes going every which way in kind of/sort of patterns. This was not a song as such, but the mischief made me smile.

At times, Eric Hansen sat with one foot on the floor and the other atop a knee – a remarkably casual pose considering the intense concentration of notes emanating from his clarinet.

Most pictorial in the program was “A Week in Plasencia” with composer Mike Curtis musically depicting a person enjoying what he is experiencing in various places – a park, a zoo, a café – on vacation.

Eric Hansen left that impression of pleasure in performing. “Hot Lips Hansen” – an old nickname for him that came out during the talkback – clearly knows what he’s doing.

The performance space also is friendly to the ear – Fort Howard Hall in the Weidner Center for the Performing arts on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. The place let Eric Hansen play as if breathing. No microphones were in sight. Three cameras were used.

A four-page printed program was offered virtually.

You can see the performance and talkback here: https://bit.ly/3juCgkj.

***

Program: “Travel in Place with Clarinetist Eric Hansen”

+ “A Week in Plasencia” by Mike Curtis

Sunday – Plaza Mayor

Monday – Acueducto Romano

Tuesday – Parque Ornitologico

Wednesday – Parque de la Isla

Thursday – Café Goya

Friday – Rio Jerte

Saturday – Fiesta de Rumba

Sunday II – Plasencia Seprahrid

+ “The Jungle” by Eric Mandat

Libera

Lament

Apotheosis

+ “Wings” by Joan Tower

+ “Spanish Sketches” by Ivan Olenchik 

***

Faculty violinist Luis Fernandez performed as the season series started. Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=im5o_2EKuao.

Next in the series – Nov. 16 – performing are musicians from the university’s Weidner Philharmonic.

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