Living ‘Vivace’

Living ‘Vivace’

Trevor Stewart does it all, including Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto



Trevor Stewart is young, talented, high-energy, enthusiastic, busy and mobile in a way only his generation can imagine. He lives in Lawrence, Kan., where he teaches private music lessons; teaches clarinet at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, an hour away on the far side of Kansas City; is principal clarinet for the Wichita (Kan.) Symphony Orchestra, about two hours south and west of Lawrence; and is also principal clarinet for the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas, about four hours to the south.

In his spare time — which he swears he has — Stewart also bikes, gardens, cooks and is learning the making of espresso as an art form. He and his partner, who used to work at the University of Kansas, are also in the process of starting a vegan ice cream and baked goods business — because Lawrence is very much like Fayetteville and welcomes that kind of entrepreneurship.

But when you get Stewart talking about Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, for which he’ll be the soloist with SoNA when the March 21 concert is rescheduled, he shifts into the role of music educator without a blip. He starts by saying “there is so much to say about it,” then tries to condense it into a manageable portion, explaining first that the concerto debuted Oct. 16, 1791, and Mozart died Dec. 5 of the same year at the age of 35.

“That’s significant because compared to a lot of his other works for solo instruments, this one has undertones of sorrow and remorse and nostalgia,” Stewart explains. “It’s more operatic and romantic than some of his earlier works. This is more human, I feel, more expressive of the human condition.”

It’s also an anomaly. The clarinet was “very young as an instrument” at the time, Stewart explains, and looked and sounded nothing like the modern-day instrument. Among other differences was that the Basset clarinet, as it is called, was very limited in the range it could play, and that range included notes much lower than today’s standard clarinet. Mozart knew only one musician with a Basset clarinet, Anton Stadler, for whom the concerto was written, and after its premiere, it wasn’t published until 1801 — because nobody had an instrument on which to play it.

For that matter, Stewart goes on, the original score was lost, and what was published was rearranged for a more standard clarinet.

“So as a performer, it gives you some room for interpretation because we know where those low notes would have been,” he says. “There are lots of different ways musicians try to represent the original piece.”

Stewart will perform on a standard clarinet, but he will take some of those liberties — and he’s put the work into doing so. He started practicing the piece when he was in seventh grade, and this is his first performance as soloist with a full orchestra.

“The Clarinet Concerto is one of Mozart’s most intimate works, and it’s perfect to showcase Trevor’s exceptional musicianship,” says Paul Haas, SoNA music director.

The evening will also include “Beethoven’s third symphony Eroica, a thrilling piece that reflects the beginnings of the composer’s romantic style,” Haas says, and Venezuelan composer Aldemaro Romero’s Fuga con Pajarillo, which “mixes folk elements with classical forms.”



Masterworks III:

Symphony of NWA

WHEN — POSTPONED; watch for a new date

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $33-$55

INFO — or 443-5600

Categories: Music