Ciaramella, the Renaissance Wind Band, is in town this week for a masterclass and concert at Case. We reached shawm player Adam Gilbert in Los Angeles to ask about his career as a specialist in early wind instruments.
Mike Telin: What I first want to know, you are a shawm player. How does one go about becoming a shawm player?
Adam Gilbert: That’s a really good question. It’s changed in the last bunch of years, I think. I came to shawm because I was a recorder player. Long story. I played recorder as a kid because I wanted a clarinet – to be like Benny Goodman. That was pretty geeky in the first place, but then after I started playing clarinet I realized I wanted to play recorder, and that’s how I got involved in early music. And that was because I actually saw a concert of my hometown college collegium.
MT: And where was that?
AG: Columbia, South Carolina. I was thirteen, and that was the moment that I discovered Renaissance dances and was really excited by it. I went to New York to go to music school in January of 1981 and when I was there I was told, it’s great, you can study recorder, but my teacher said, I’ve got a gig for you if you can play a little bagpipes and shawm. A lot of people of my generation got into it from playing a lot of Renaissance instruments but nowadays you see a lot more modern oboists or baroque oboists going back and playing the earlier instruments because they’ve already had that specialty of playing double reeds.