Guest artists to perform ‘bizarre’ clarinet, percussion recital

Robert Spring and J.B. Smith will bring a unique clarinet and percussion performance to the UW-Whitewater campus Feb. 11.

Robert Spring. Photo submitted

Spring and Smith, both professors or Arizona State University, first met 24 years ago when Spring moved to Phoenix from Texas. The pair has been performing together ever since.

“I had been active with another percussionist while I was teaching in Texas,” Spring said. “After I moved to Phoenix, Smith and I got together and just decided that it was a fun type of experience and that we wanted to keep doing that so we formed this group.”

Spring has been playing the clarinet since 1966. He has a master’s degree in wind instruments and has traveled to many parts of the world to perform.

“I’ve played all over the world,” Spring said. “I think like, 22 countries or something.”

Spring doesn’t just perform with Smith though. He also performs in solo concerts, with other groups such as an orchestra in Columbus, Ohio.

The upcoming concert will feature Spring on the clarinet and Smith on percussion. Spring said the music ranges from “really bizarre to rock ‘n’ roll.” He said the amount of technology in the concert is “mind boggling.”

“There’s a lot of new music and a lot of new stuff,” Spring said. “Some of it’s based off of rock ‘n’ roll and some of it is based on jazz. There are clarinets and electronics. It’s a very, very interesting program. You have percussion controlling a computer, so that when you hit things in a certain order, certain sounds appear.”

J.B. Smith. Photo submitted
Smith, who plays percussion in the concert, “is internationally recognized as a performer, composer, educator, and conductor,” according to his website.

Clarinet Professor Christian Ellenwood is hosting the event and coordinating the performance.

Ellenwood said concerts like this one, are extremely beneficial to students. He said Spring and Smith bring an “incredible level of international artistry and expertise to campus.”

“I think it’s very beneficial for students to have contact with some of the best performers out there,” Ellenwood said. “[This type of concert] can only help our students grow in positive ways, and it’s very inspiring. It’s actually, in many ways, a cultural gift to the community as well. It’s really incredible playing.”