As Franklin & Marshall College's artist-in-residence (clarinet) and coordinator of the Sound Horizons concert series that brings to campus an eclectic mix of musicians for concerts several times a year, Doris Hall-Gulati is an advocate for new music. She has performed in music festivals and as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States, as well as Russia and China, where she has toured as a performer and teacher. She also serves as visiting professor at China's Lanzhou Multicultural University.
Hall-Gulati earned her bachelor's degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music in 1985 and her masters in music from the University of Michigan in 1986. In her New York debut in 1997, Hall-Gulati performed the world premiere of John Carbon's "Rhapsody For Clarinet and Orchestra" at Avery Fischer Hall, Lincoln Center, with Gerard Schwarz and the New York Chamber Symphony (Carbon is F&M's Richard S. and Ann B. Barshinger Professor of Music). The New York Times described her performance as, "... a demandingly agile clarinet line, played with both virtuosity and nuance."
In March, Hall-Gulati returned from touring Germany, Switzerland and Belgium with Trio Clavino, founded by pianist Xun Pan, Hall-Gulati, and violinist/violist Simon Maurer. In this interview, part of an occasional feature called "Three Questions," Hall-Gulati discusses her recent performance in Europe, the role of the artist-in-residence, and the teacher-mentor experience.
Can you tell us about your experience performing in Europe recently?
This was the second time we toured in Europe. I think the audiences are very different, and for the most part European audiences are well trained in classical music. They also expect a higher level of performance. Not that we don't perform at a high level every performance, it's just a little different when you have a highly educated audience. They're educated not only in how to respect a performance and in the proper etiquette of being in a concert hall, but they're also very aware of the composer and of the actual piece you are performing. That means you're going to need to speak to the audience. I don't speak German or French, but our violist speaks five languages, including German and French, so when I spoke he would translate. It was a great experience, but the Germans and Swiss were upset that we had the snow this winter that they didn't.
Actually, weather is important in performances. The change in temperature can affect the instruments. Anything that's wood or reeds will contract and expand because of temperature change. Lack of humidity will make an instrument sound differently. Once, before a performance in Switzerland, for 45 minutes I couldn't get my reeds to work because of the change in humidity. While the performance went smoothly, it was frustrating going from cold and dry outside to wet and humid inside.
What is the role of an artist-in-residence at Franklin & Marshall College?
I am a performer, so not only do I teach clarinet and coordinate chamber music and performance, I'm coordinating a professional series. I have the responsibility of being not just the professor, but as someone being out in the field, still performing. The College sees that I'm bringing back a higher level of knowledge of the instrument, the clarinet, and the world of chamber music. Also, because I'm an artist who is performing, I have better connections with the music world. There are schools where the artists-in-residence don't have to perform, but I feel that I do. It's surprisingly rewarding to be teaching at a liberal arts school rather than a conservatory.
Can you describe the teacher-mentor experience and how students benefit?
We have really bright students who want a liberal arts education in order to soak up the knowledge of everything. I think it's interesting that we are creating the next generation of patrons of the arts. Many of these students want to be successful in their field, but at the same time they have chosen an art or music here that they want to continue to support. Hopefully, we're doing well at bringing up the next generation of patrons, because there is a problem right now. Music and arts are being taken out of the public schools because of financial issues. At Franklin & Marshall, they're getting a chance to perform, to continue to study their instrument, and are getting a broader experience. They leave F&M saying, "Hey, I want to continue to attend concerts and play my instrument when I finish here."