Pacific Symphony’s Multi-Talented Joshua Ranz

Hailed in the Los Angeles Times as offering a “stunning rendition” of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto, and an “exciting” version of the Copland Clarinet Concerto, Joshua Ranz is equally gifted on clarinet and bass clarinet. Since 1997, he has served as bass clarinet with Pacific Symphony in addition to being principal clarinet of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO) as well as principal clarinet of the New West Symphony.

Ranz has played on over 100 soundtracks for such composers as John Williams, Michael Giacchino, James Horner, Randy Newman and many others. Some of the recent films he has played on include Coco, Lady Bird, Star Wars VII, Rogue One and The Incredibles 2. A graduate of Harvard and Yale, he recently joined the faculty of UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music as Lecturer in Clarinet.

As you might imagine, Ranz is a consummate musician with a lot creative energy. In spite of the pandemic, he managed to record his first album, which will be released on April 23. “Three Cello Suites,” from Joshua Ranz and Navona Records is a truly groundbreaking take on Bach’s legendary works. The album features—for the first time ever—three unabridged cello suites by Bach arranged for the bass clarinet by Ranz. He selected Suites 1, 4, and 2 in that order for this recording because, together, they form a cohesive and dynamic whole.

Ranz lends a fresh voice to Bach’s profoundly beautiful music. “Bach’s music transcends any one instrument, and I believe having the opportunity to hear it with a fresh set of ears can be an invigorating way to experience his genius,” says Ranz. “I have discovered that playing and recording the suites on the bass clarinet offers a fluidity and lyricism, giving the music a unique beauty rarely heard in other renditions. Great cellists have told me that they prefer certain movements on the bass clarinet than even on their own instrument.”

In anticipation of the April 23 release of the new album, Pacific Symphony will present an “Album Release Party” on Weds., April 21 at 5 p.m. KUSC radio personality Alan Chapman will join Principal Flute and Symphony Mixer host Ben Smolen for a conversation with Joshua Ranz about his recording project. They’ll play selections from the new release and will give away CDs to members of the audience. You can catch the “Album Release Party” on Facebook.

The “Three Cello Suites” recording will be available on Apple Music/iTunes and Amazon.com beginning April 23. Or you can pre-order the album here.

In addition to the many musical hats Ranz wears, he’s a master of klezmer, an instrumental musical tradition associated with the Ashkenazi Jews of Central and Eastern Europe. His wailing klezmer clarinet plays a starring role on Michael Giocchino’s soundtrack for the Seth Rogan comedy-drama “An American Pickle” (2020).

Ranz will be in conversation with Alan Chapman for a Zoom event entitled “Essential Klezmer” on Thurs., April 15 at 4 p.m. He will be talking about growing up hearing his grandmother speaking Yiddish, and how he began developing his klezmer artistry during childhood, playing clarinet in a klezmer trio with a young violinist friend. He will demonstrate klezmer effects on clarinet to show how that technique differs from playing classical music. Chapman will also provide historical context on klezmer. If you’ve always wondered about how klezmer music is played or you want to experience this side of Ranz’s artistry, be sure to look for this presentation on Pacific Symphony’s Facebook page on April 14.

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