Benedictine College Professor Dr. Christopher Greco at ClarinetFest 2016

Greco at ClarinetFest 2016

Published: Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Dr. Christopher GrecoThe International Clarinet Association’s (ICA) ClarinetFest® is one of those seminal events that clarinet enthusiasts put on their bucket lists. Held at venues across the United States and at international locations like Paris, Madrid, Tokyo and Stockholm, the annual event draws hundreds of professional performers, composers, instrument makers, and university professors from around the world. When ClarinetFest ® 2016 came to Lawrence, Kansas, this year, Dr. Christopher Greco, associate professor in the Music Department at Benedictine College, took advantage of it.

“It’s five days, non-stop, morning, noon and night, of new music, performances, youth competitions, and gala performances,” Greco said. “When I saw it was at KU, I had to go. It was around the corner. You can’t pass that up.”

And Greco didn’t just attend, he immersed himself in the event. He performed with the ICA Professors Clarinet Ensemble in the Lied Center, the performing arts center at the University of Kansas. He was even featured in that performance with a solo passage from “A Butterfly Coughs in Africa” by Paul Richards.

“We had three mornings of rehearsal, and you get the music when you get there,” he said. “But when I saw the music, I was actually quite surprised because there was some fairly challenging stuff. But I guess everyone sort of tuned in and the performance actually ended up going very well. It’s always fun to play with a group of professionals.”

Chris Greco with Michelle ZukovskyAmong the professionals he played with and met with during the event were people like Philippe Cuper, supersoloiste for the Paris National Opera; Michelle Zukovsky, principal clarinetist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for four decades; Stephan Vermeersch, president of the European Clarinet Association and a noted performer and composer; and David Blumberg, featured recitalist and clinician with the Philadelphia International Music Festival.

“To come into contact with that level of play and that kind of artistry raises you up and inspires you,” Greco said. “And the information you pull from that keeps you in contact with literature, repertoire, what’s new, and what’s relevant. You have to keep abreast of your field, and these conferences are outstanding for that.”

He said ClarinetFest® 2016 gave him the opportunity to engaged in professional collaboration, scholarship, performance and diversity. He also increased his knowledge of performance literature for clarinet and was able to test and explore the latest developments in instruments and their accessories.

“It doesn’t get any better than this, and it’s an honor to participate,” he said. “And of course, it all comes back to the institution we represent, and the classroom and students.”

Greco said he was immediately able to incorporate some of what he had learned at the conference into a class on Orchestration. He was able to reference the latest design of materials and clarinets and even talked to the students about some new innovations in equipment.

“We’re all better for it,” he said. “Scholarship is essential to the specialist field, and it’s an obligation to our professional standing to continue to engage, collaborate, and diversify within our respective fields of study, and in as wide a spectrum of activities one can sustain and manage with high quality.”

Greco has composed and performed a broad and diverse range of music including classical, chamber, jazz, concert hall music, popular music, and electronic and electro-acoustic music. His compositions draw from the music traditions of the past and the present within the worlds of the classical repertoire, non-western music, American popular, twentieth century, and jazz. He was trained as a composer and woodwind multi-instrumentalist (saxophonist/clarinetist/flutist) in Los Angeles and is an award-winning composer in the categories of concert music and jazz music. He joined the Benedictine College music faculty in 2008 and is the coordinator of the music theory undergraduate sequence, applied studio woodwind specialist, and professor of composition.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.