After retiring from a 30-year orchestral career (including principal clarinetist with the Bogota Philharmonic, the National Repertory Orchestra, and the Nashville Symphony), Lee Levine has only just begun to expand her musical horizons as one of ALIAS’s core musicians.
Lee recently took a rare time out from her busy rehearsal schedule to talk about playing with ALIAS and to share her excitement for the February 18 Winter concert.
Q: How long have you been playing clarinet for ALIAS Chamber Ensemble? What is so special about this ensemble that has inspired you to stay with the group for so many years?
I have been playing with ALIAS since its inception. I love playing chamber music. For me, it is the most intimate interpretation of classical music. It allows me tremendous freedom to express my great love for music, while also being accountable to my ensemble partners.
Q: At the February 18th Winter Concert, you’ll be the featured clarinetist in Paul Moravec’s “Tempest Fantasy” for clarinet, violin, cello and piano. Is it just a little intimidating playing a piece that won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize?
No, not at all. Ten years ago, I heard a short snippet of Tempest Fantasy when the Pulitzer Prize was announced, and in less than 30 seconds I knew I wanted to play this music. I called Paul Moravec and introduced myself, told him about ALIAS, and asked him for the parts. He not only sent us the music, he came to Nashville and coached us for our performance in 2004. To re-visit the piece now, after all these years, gives us a chance to bring a new level of skill and maturity to the performance, and I look forward to it.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of this piece?
I have to play two different instruments in Tempest Fantasy. The third movement uses bass clarinet, and Paul Moravec has written wide leaps and difficult articulations that make the music sound both grotesque and humorous, just like Caliban, the character it portrays. It’s hard to let go of my desire to “play pretty.”
Q: Why is this year’s Winter concert a must-attend for Nashville music lovers?
ALIAS concerts are fun and stimulating because you’ll hear music that is rarely performed and passionately played. What’s not to like about Shostakovich, Debussy, some “Twisted Dances” and prize-winning, Shakespeare-inspired chamber music?
Also, I should add that the Tempest Fantasy is the largest work on our new CD, and this is our audiences’ chance to hear us perform it live before we record it in June. They can also hear us play it at Emergence with the Ballet May 29-31.