Just got word that Anthony McGill, the Metropolitan Opera clarinetist who’ll play with the Westchester Philharmonic next weekend, will visit the Rye schools on Nov. 19.
He’ll spend the morning at Rye High School and Middle School giving
lecture-demonstrations to clarinet students. In the afternoon, he will visit the Osborn, Milton and Midland Middle Schools talking to nearly 500 third- through fifth-graders about his career.
Here’s my Q&A with Anthony McGill, which ran in Sunday’s editions of The Journal News:
If you know Anthony McGill, the 30-year-old principal clarinetist with the Metropolitan Opera, it’s likely from his performance on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on a bitterly cold Inauguration Day last January, a few feet from the new president.
On that cold day, everyone on the Mall — except for those within earshot of the unamplified quartet — heard a recording of cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman, pianist Gabriella Montero and clarinetist McGill because the sub-freezing temperatures made it impossible to keep the instruments in tune.
The conditions will be considerably better on Saturday and Nov. 22 when McGill plays with Perlman’s Westchester Philharmonic at Purchase College, McGill chatted about the upcoming concert and other things, recently, including one fact about that cold day that makes people gasp when they hear it.
Q: Well, everyone said the world would change on Jan. 20, 2009. That must have been the case for you and your career.
A: Yeah, it did a bit.
Q: A little easier to get a gig now, I suppose?
A: Since my main gig is at the Met, it’s nice to be able to do other stuff here and there: performances and concertos and recitals. So, yeah, the schedule’s just a little bit tighter now.
Q: Which is a good thing.
A: Most definitely.
Q: What did you make of the mini-controversy about your music being played on tape rather than live at the inauguration? Did you make anything out of that?
A: No I didn’t, actually, because for us it was kind of like a standard kind of thing with the weather being that cold. That’s the only thing you pretty much can do. There aren’t many options besides not performing, which wasn’t an option at all.
Q: Have your fingers thawed out from that? It was a very cold day.
A: It was a very cold day, but that was the farthest thing from my mind. It was so awesome to be there and to experience that day. It was very cool to see all those people out there, pretty amazing.
Q: Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and Gabriella Montero. That’s the A-Team. Did you feel like you had been traded to the Yankees when you got the call?
A: Yeah, it was pretty wild. The biggest thing I’ve ever been a part of. I was so honored that Yo-Yo Ma thought of me to do it because we had played together before. It was awesome to be up there with the top musicians in the world.
Q:Did you get to meet the president and first lady?
A: I didn’t. (Laughs.) I did not meet the president. I tell everybody that and they just gasp. But hopefully I will in the future. I have a few more years to try to get on his schedule.
Q: But you do get to see Itzhak Perlman again. Is this the first time you’ll see him since the inauguration?
A: I saw him at a gala for the Westchester Philharmonic, back in the spring. But this will be great, to work with him again.
Q: You’ll be playing the Mozart Clarinet Concerto. It’s a lovely piece but it sounds like it’s a workout.
A: It really is. It has everything. A masterpiece like that, you’re going to have your beautiful slow moments and the workout sections, but it’s all worth it because it’s so beautiful. For a clarinet player, it’s the most beautiful piece ever written. You can’t get much better than that.
Q: Playing with the Met, you play Mozart’s opera music. Is there a big difference between opera music and a concerto?
A: Actually, there is quite a difference. Not so much in the writing or the style — Mozart is Mozart — but playing the solo line, you’re like the singer up on stage in front of the orchestra. It has a lot of similarities, but for me, I’m in a different position, with the spotlight on. It’s pretty great. I love playing in the opera, but I also love soloing with great orchestras like Westchester.
Photo by Katie Colleary: Anthony McGill, the principal clarinetist for The Metropolitan Opera, will reunite with violinist Itzhak Perlman, conductor of the Westchester Philharmonic, for a concerto Nov. 21 and 22 at Purchase College.
What: Westchester Philharmonic, with Anthony McGill, clarinet
When: At 8 p.m. Saturday; 3 p.m. Nov. 22.
Where: The Performing Arts Center Concert Hall at Purchase College, 735 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase.
Tickets: $25 to $85. Discounts for students, children, groups.
Call: 914-682-3707, Ext. 10
The program: Conducted by artistic director Itzhak Perlman, the program opens with Felix Mendelssohn’s Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, continues with Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and concludes with Schubert’s “Great” Symphony No. 9. A pre-show “Tuning Up” discussion with members of the philharmonic precedes each concert, beginning an hour and 15 minutes before curtain.
Open rehearsal: Free open rehearsal with Perlman and McGill at 10 a.m. Saturday.