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ARTISTS

THE INSPIRATION BEHIND MY WORK

Kimball Sykes

Principal Clarinet,

National Arts Center Orchestra of Canada

"Mike has been very thoughtful and attentive in helping me find mouthpieces that better achieve the quality of sound I want in my playing.  He has adapted different commercial models to produce the response and timbre I like from my equipment, and his original designs offer a fluidity of response into the third register of the instrument that rivals the finest mouthpieces available.  It is a pleasure to work with him in person and I highly recommend his work."

James T. Shields

Principal Clarinet, Oregon Symphony Orchestra

Associate Artistic Director, Chatter

"I’ve played many different custom mouthpieces over my career. I'd gone back to playing stock commercial mouthpieces for several years until I found out about Mike’s work.

 

Searching for the perfect setup can often feel like a zero-sum game, with improvements in one dimension of playing seeming to come with downsides in other areas. A mouthpiece might offer a great tone but lack great response, have a great deal of flexibility but lack of tonal stability, and so on. For me, Mike’s craftsmanship and high-quality blanks seem to transcend these trade-offs, and I am able to achieve an ease of response with a large sound, flexibility while maintaining a stable core tone, and warmth and depth without sacrificing clarity. I’m particularly amazed by the consistently clear response at all dynamic levels and registers, as well as the ability to create tonal flexibility easily in a wide variety of musical styles.

 

As a performer, I need to be able to shift in a matter of days from playing large orchestral repertoire in rainy Portland, Oregon to playing Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet at high-altitude in dusty Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Mike’s mouthpieces make my life considerably easier. His attention to detail when working with all aspects of mouthpiece-making is impressive, and his method of play-testing mouthpieces when applying facings is grounded in his experience as a top-notch clarinet player himself. His mouthpieces are extremely reed friendly and, in my experience, work well with a wide variety of reed cuts and strengths; this is a huge plus for me as a player who performs chamber, contemporary, orchestral, and solo music over the course of each month. These qualities allow me to focus on my primary goals: finding sounds, colors, and characters that serve the music, and performing with the spontaneity and joy that helps me connect with audiences.

 

It's rare to reach such a level of refinement at a young age. I believe Mike could be the next big name in fine mouthpiece-crafting."

Taylor Eiffert

Bass Clarinet, Los Angeles Philharmonic

Bass Clarinet, Santa Fe Opera Orchestra

I’ve worked with Mike both as a player and as a mouthpiece technician for many years now. The mouthpieces I have from Mike allow me comfortably and consistently achieve the colors and expression I desire. One of my favorite aspects about working with Mike is that he’s always up for a challenge, and is willing to go above and beyond to personalize a mouthpiece to my instrument and reed preference. Mike is a gem of a person, and is both hilarious and personable. I think everyone should get a chance to work with him!

Max Christie

Principal Clarinet, National Ballet Orchestra of Canada

Recording Artist, Naxos, Centrediscs

Clarinet Instructor, University of Toronto

My friendship with Mike predates his rapid rise in the mouthpiece-making craft by several years. It’s great to have someone who knows me and my preferences when it comes to playing, response, and even my reed choice. 

 

I’m deeply impressed with the level of his skill, his careful adjustments, and willingness to work on what to me are the most arcane and unknowable elements of the trade.

 

I have two Dassios back-ups to my Kaspar(which Mike has refaced and kept in shape for me, to say nothing of how it’s on his account I own one!), one I just received, and which I love already, the Model “L.”

Alicia Lee

Assistant Professor of Clarinet,

University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Since I started playing one of Mike’s clarinet mouthpieces, I have felt for the first time in a long time that I can really trust my set-up. The mouthpiece is extremely flexible and rings beautifully in all registers. I recently started playing one of his bass mouthpieces and I have found the same results. 

 

This is my first experience with custom mouthpieces and it has far surpassed my expectations. Mike’s level of care and meticulous detail is outstanding. If you have the opportunity to work personally with Mike it is well worth your time. He will sit and listen to you play and will quickly understand how to customize the mouthpiece for you. He obviously has a great ear and an extensive understanding of all the mechanics of the instrument. 

 

I am very excited about these mouthpieces and look forward to recommending them to my colleagues and students."

Eddie Sundra

Associate Principal & 2nd Clarinet, 

Richmond Symphony

"I have worked with Mike for the past few years, having used many iterations of his facings and blanks, all of which deserve the highest praise. I am always blown away by the consistency of his products, not only in the quality of craftsmanship, but in their ability to produce a warm, robust sound without losing the ability to centre and articulate- something that I feel has been lacking with the latest commercial mouthpieces. 

Mike has been relentless in his quest to both capture elements of historic mouthpiece
design along with modern sound characteristics, which has paid off in spades. I’m definitely looking
forward to seeing what products Mike will produce in the future!"

Andrew George

Soloist, Principal Clarinet Emeritus,

Symphony New Brunswick

"I have to say, this is really incredible work.  I love the MD5#, it's so flexible and responsive.  It showed me how much tone I was sacrificing to get those qualities from my commercial mouthpieces.  It's surprising how focused the sound stays while being extremely flexible.  This immediately replaced the most open mouthpiece in my kit.  Congratulations on everything you've accomplished!"

Alessandro
Tenorio-Bucci

Chicago Area Freelancer and Educator

"I agree with James Shields. Mike has been extremely helpful and pleasant to work with. His mouthpieces are exceptionally flexible, even, responsive, resonant, and centered at any dynamic level without ever sounding harsh or airy.

You really knocked it out of the park with these!
This mouthpiece has honestly made me more confident and comfortable about all the auditions I have coming up"

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Ross Edwards

Principal Clarinet,

Kitchener - Waterloo Symphony

Mike has been customizing my mouthpieces for years.  His ability to understand my individual needs as a player has been quite productive.  Even through the mail, he has been able to adjust my equipment to my standards by knowing exactly how I like to play.

Zaven Zakarian

Principal Clarinet, l’Orchestre symphonique de Trois-Rivières

Principal Clarinet, l’Orchestre des Grands Ballet Canadiens

Clarinetist, l'orchestra symphonique de Laval

Instructor of clarinet, Vanier College, Concordia University

"Mike has a great intuition and ability to zero in on mouthpiece problems and tend to my specific requests… with wonderful results!"

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