Monday, September 17, 2012

Anthony McGill and Pacifica String Quartet

Saturday night, I got to see Anthony McGill perform with the Pacifica String Quartet.  Anthony McGill is the principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and he performed "Air and Simple Gifts" by John Williams with Yoyo Ma and Itzak Perlman in Obama's 2008 Inauguration.  The Pacifica String Quartet is one of the finest string quartets peforming today.  They were performing in the Music in the Loft Series.  It was a outstanding peformance!

The concert was at the Fine Arts Building in Chicago.  The performance took place in an extremely intimate setting.  I think it was a luthier, because there cellos of various sizes lined up on a rack on the wall.  The seats were packed extremely close together, and the room packed with people.  It was chamber music in a real chamber!

During the first half of the concert, the Pacifica Quartet played without Anthony McGill.  They performed the Beethoven String Quartet No. 13, Op. 130.  They were phenomenal.  I have never heard a chamber group play so completely together.  It was like they were one instrument, one person.  Simin Ganatra led the group with perfect confidence, and the men followed her perfectly, while 2nd violinist Sibbi Bernardsson, cellist Brandon Vamos, and violist Masumi Per Rostad followed her lead flawlessly.  The performance was smooth, confident and exquisite.  I loved it!

The second half of the concert was the Mozart Clarinet Quintet.  Anthony McGill was awesome!  I really loved the way he communicated with Pacifica.  The members of Pacifica have a clear and obvious connection with each other, which really comes through in their playing.  McGill slipped right into this relationship with an easy confidence.

The clarinet has a very different color than the string quartet and it is easy to stick out and overpower them, making the piece more like a clarinet concerto than a chamber piece.  But Anthony McGill achieved a perfect balance with Pacifica. His tone was dark, inviting and yet at the same time playful, very distinctly Mozart.  It was wonderful!  I loved every minute.

After the concert there was a reception.  I wanted to talk to Anthony, and tell him what a wonderful job he did.  He was talking to his parents, and I didn't want to disturb him, but he saw me and called me over and introduced me to his parents.  When his Dad, Demarre McGill, Sr. met me, he said, "You look familiar.  Are you the blogger?"  Mr. McGill, Sr. was very warm and enthusiastic.  It is easy to see why Anthony McGill is such a great guy when you meet his parents.  I talked a little with Anthony and his parents, and they were all so nice!  Plus, it is really cool that Anthony McGill's dad follows my blog!

Amazing Chicago native Chicago Clarinetist and great guy, Anthony McGill!
All in all, it was a wonderful evening, and I am so happy that I had the chance to see and hear such wonderful musicians.


  1. Nice review. Anthony is a real model for you.


  2. Sounds like an amazing concert! There is simply no substitute for live music.

  3. What a great opportunity! Torin, you really do a great job of reviewing concerts. You manage to make others feel a bit of your passion. This is an art, in it's self! Keep up the good work. Nana