Krannert Center’s first artist talks about his musical journey


Krannert Center 2021 lead artist and FAA graduate student Andrew Buckley sees a wall of glass between the stage and the auditorium.

He describes a typical symphony orchestra concert: The musicians enter and exit the stage in silence while the audience stands still and applauds in the dark.

As a clarinetist for over 10 years, Buckley has embraced this classical musical tradition. But now, with his professional debut album coming “Where Do We Go Next” Premiering with The Goodwin Avenue Trio on April 9 at Smith Memorial Hall, Buckley said he was redefining what a classical concert experience truly is.

“The question is, what will classical music look like in the next 10 years?” Buckley said. “That’s it.”

According to Buckley, early in his undergraduate career, his main reason for creating music was to earn a living. To become more employable, he joined three instrument studios as an apprentice bandleader in the school’s wind ensemble.

However, Buckley said he realized he was spreading himself too thin trying to monetize his talents.

“Is that really why I’m a musician – just to make money?” Buckley said. “Partly, but it’s more to create exceptional and deeply emotional musical performances. And I don’t think you can do that until you focus on one thing and commit to one thing. For me, it was clarinet.

“I want to stay away from talent, but that comes naturally,” Buckley said.

Unfortunately, the pandemic hit before Buckley started pursuing his mastery. He said he was falling into turmoil due to the lack of gigging opportunities and the new monotony of graduate school.

During this time he founded The Goodwin Avenue Trio with pianist Chanmi Lee and cellist Briar Schlenker, both FAA graduate students.

“We have to create something because we’re just going to go crazy if we don’t,” Buckley said.

The trio made their professional debut in March 2021, with just 40 people seated 10 feet apart. The concert was also broadcast live. Buckley said the dispersed audience didn’t react much. He felt like he was talking to a brick wall as he constantly shifted his attention between the auditorium and the live camera.

Despite the struggles, Buckley said he heard people enjoying the fact that he brought them back to concert halls.

“It was weird for them in that aspect, but people didn’t care,” Buckley said. “They just wanted to be there.”

Buckley’s girlfriend, Becca Frederick, an FAA graduate student, recalled how when the Illinois Wind Symphony performed “Pines of Rome” last semester, she saw people moved to tears by the clarinet solo of Buckley.

Buckley said he knew it was his best performance because he had played the snippet over 500 times.

Buckley said that after enough practice, all technical game points slip away. He said he focused more on stage expression. He mentioned that sometimes he even stops focusing on the beat.

“He’s so passionate about what he has to say through music,” Frederick said. “You can see it in his face. You can hear it in sound and its movement. He’s very expressive, very good at making the audience feel what they want them to feel.

Buckley said he was thinking about performer-centric classical concerts.

“Viewers don’t feel like they’re having an experience,” he said. “They are watching someone else have an experience. Are we really conveying an emotion when we do this? »

Buckley has a solution. He said he gives oral program notes and asks the audience for feedback during intermissions. He said this communication includes the audience in the process of creating music and allows them to see the personality behind the performance instead of a robot moving their fingers on a musical instrument.

When Buckley won eight hours of free recordings in the Krannert Center Debut Artist competition, his first thought was to record his four favorite classical clarinet pieces. Bbut he hesitated.

“These four tracks have been recorded 100 times by artists who are way better than me and way better than I will ever be,” he said. “Is this something that people are actually going to notice?”

Around this time, Buckley said he met Professor Bärli Nugent of the Juilliard School in a music entrepreneurship class. Nugent encouraged Buckley to feature new, diverse composers of his age in his album. Buckley said he immediately decided to follow this idea.

According to Frederick, student composers are unlikely to have their works performed even by school ensembles. Buckley added that all of these composers have recordings produced on iPhones that are put on websites and often never played back. For Buckley, it’s a waste of creative energy.

Buckley said his debut album aims to give voice to underrepresented young musicians and engage audiences.

“The music people are going to hear is more representative of the 21st century,” Buckley said. “It’s not Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn. It’s new, it’s weird, it’s experimental – kinda everything people of my generation are going through right now.

For Buckley, the most exciting thing about this album is that the music has never been heard before. He said that the Trio now brings creation to life.

“We’re trying to come up with the next cool thing,” Buckley said. “The next fancy thing. The next shape of our heart.

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