In Part 2 of Solo Spotlight, we hear from Laurel Stinson, clarinetist and Assistant Conductor of Grand Street Community Band! Laurel has been performing with the MMC for the last four seasons, made her Carnegie Hall conducting debut last June with the Grand Street Community Band, and plays with the Brooklyn Wind Symphony. She's also a music educator at Grand Street High School!
Whew! With such a full musical schedule, Laurel shared how she's preparing for her performance, what she loves Blue Shades, and her very special good luck charm.
Click here for Part 1 of Solo Spotlight where Lena Barsky talks about her part in John Mackey's Asphalt Cocktail.
What was your first impression when you saw the solo?
"Yes. We meet again..." I played the solo with the Ithaca College Symphonic Band about 8 years ago.
What part do you look forward to the most in the solo?
The bends in the jazzy style of Blue Shades are simply fun to play. I'm able to express the music freely.
What’s the best part of playing such an exposed part in the ensemble?
I usually have my back to the ensemble as assistant conductor [of GSCB] so I'm looking forward to facing the other direction. I'll be able to perform for the audience rather than expressing the music to the musicians through gesture while the audience only gets half of the musical picture.
What’s your practice regimen?
I am a music teacher at the Grand Street Campus so my job enables me to play my instrument. I warm up and play the solo while my students are warming up for class or after the school day is done. In a way it motivates the students because they can see what is possible through efficient practice. I only play for 20 minutes on days I don't have rehearsal. I play in various rehearsals for six hours a week including Monday nights.
How do you deal with pre-solo nerves/jitters?
Science! I eat a banana. A college professor told me the potassium helps with anxiety.
Any good luck charms?
I always wear a ring that belonged to my mother, may she rest in peace. I play for her and the memory of her warm and inspirational spirit. She spent her last days at Grand Street listening to the music of the Metropolitan Music Community--she never missed one concert throughout the 15 years I've been playing the clarinet.