Gippo rocks the piccolo

Gippo rocks the piccolo

By Jake Saunder

The sounds of woodwinds flowed from the Old Baptist Foundation Hall Monday when renowned traveling piccolo artist Jan Gippo performed a duet with his wife, clarinetist Jane Carl.

Gippo’s distinguished career includes 35 years with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, teaching at Webster University and the book “The Complete Piccolo.” Douglas Worthen, Southern Illinois Flute Choir artistic director, and flute and music history assistant professor, said Gippo has performed at SIU in the past.

“Jan Gippo is well known for his concert premieres of new works and we are looking forward to his program,” Worthen said prior to the concert.


The evening began with “Happy Face,” a flowing piece with intermittent crescendos of spiraling high notes and the low cadence of soft and pleasant melodies, all encompassed within the ambiance of the piano keys’ cyclical and hypnotic movements.

“The emotions are usually anywhere from really happy to sad, but not ever angry and not ever dark, I just don’t respond to that,” Gippo said.

“Happy Face” was a part of “Souvenirs,” the series which drove Gippo’s next pieces, including “Lily Monroe,” “Ground O” and “Cindy Redux,” all entrancingly melodic and dramatic pieces with “Cindy” serving as a foil and bringing the uplifting surge of fast tempo to light in an altogether soulful endeavor.

The next set of pieces presented fluttering autumnal-themed rhythms. These songs were part of two sections known as “Preludes, Volume III,” performed solely by Gippo, and “Four Autumn Landscapes” performed by Carl, accompanied by piano.

After a brief intermission, Carl performed solo on “Soliloquies” with the intro “Fast, Aggressive, Driving, Dramatic,” a song which certainly lives up to its name. The next pieces followed suit: “Flowing, Singing,” “Fast, Abrasive, Contentious ” and “Slow, Lyrical Expressive.”

Gippo took the stage again to perform the piece “Spindrift” accompanied by piano. The harmonies built and broke away in haunting and serene melodies. The tempo began to race and roll into haunting dynamics and finally into a graceful and playful characteristic. The piccolo bounded through varying sounds and escalated with ease around the keyed harmony.

As the evening concluded, the duo presented their fullest composition “Wild Flowers,” comprised of “Dense Blazing Star,” “Missouri Primrose” and “Mexican Hat.” The polyphonic tempo sung as if flowered petals were bird-broken and blown into the wind. Gippo and Carl created a billowing harmony of piccolo, clarinet and piano rhythms, intermingling and changing notes with beautiful effortlessness. One could imagine the piccolo and clarinet as the beautiful and flowing flora while the background piano served as the soothing and billowing wind.


The evening was an oasis of melodic waves, clean currents of harmonic high notes with the occasional undertow from key bass notes in a subtle breathing symphony.

“I just do it because I love it and I try to find the music and present it,” Gippo said.

Carl said the duo will perform the program again in a few weeks at Oklahoma University in Stillwater, Okla.

Jake Saunders can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter @saundersfj or 536-3311 ext. 254.