Bits 'n' Pieces: Clark College music professor honored

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photoMusic professor Don Appert conducts a rehearsal of the Clark College orchestra.

As Don Appert explains it, his most recent ASCAPLUS Award is something of an ensemble effort.

It isn't that Appert was recognized for writing a piece of music for a particular group: The Clark College music professor earned the 2012 award for a collection of pieces -- an ensemble of compositions.

"It was kind of a composite, not just one piece. There were a number of premieres" played in Slovakia, Italy and the United States that were recognized, said Appert, chair of Clark's music department.

Appert also is music director/conductor of the Oregon Sinfonietta and artistic director/conductor of the Jewish Community Orchestra.

The award is presented by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers to recognize composers who work outside of broadcast media, "for stuff that is below the radar," Appert said.

This year's recognition goes with awards Appert won in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010. In musical terms, Appert has expanded his ASCAPLUS Award ensemble from a quintet to a sextet.

While the ASCAPLUS Award was presented for those premieres, Appert's assessment of 2012 -- "This was a pretty good year" -- was helped by some follow-up performances.

After the premiere of a concertino for bass clarinet in Italy, the work was played by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra.

"It's wonderful to have a second performance of something so close to the premiere," Appert said. "I even got to hear a recording of the performance."

Occasionally, there is no follow-up performance. If the first performance doesn't generate some enthusiasm, the premiere also can be the finale.

"That happens fairly regularly," Appert said.

He does a lot of guest conducting, however, which helps widen exposure to his music.

"When you're a conductor and a composer, it's easier to get more than one performance," Appert said. "After the premiere of 'Northwest Triptych' with the Oregon Sinfonietta, I've been fortunate to perform it with three other orchestras -- in Romania, Slovakia and El Salvador."

Bringing your own music isn't just a boost for the composer/conductor, Appert explained. You keep the orchestra engaged in the music when they can't basically play it on autopilot.

"I learned that earlier, conducting Brahms Third Symphony in Romania," he said. "They won't do it my way because they know it really well."-- Tom Vogt

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