On Walking Among Legends and Passing on the Flame


World- renowned virtuoso, clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, alongside conductor and friend, Chris Confessore.

In every profession there are giants, legends, those people who have been pioneers in the field, inspiring generations of those who followed them. Here at ClarinetFest 2017 in Orlando, we are walking among clarinet legends, being inspired by them and reminded of why we do what we do.

Jazz legend, Eddie Daniels

A couple of days ago, I sat and listened to a local Olando television program, 'Growing BOlder', a show about aging well, as they interviewed some of the clarinet legends now in their upper seventies who were being honored at this year's ClarinetFest. I watched as legendary jazz clarinetist Eddie Daniels talked about his life and motivation, then Stanley Drucker, principal clarinetist of the New York Phil since 1948. 1948. Then Michel Zukovsky, the woman who has the longest tenure of anyone in the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Richard Stoltzman is also being honored, extra special to me as he was my teacher, Kal Opperman's, most famous student. The combined experience and successes of these amazing artists absolutely boggles the mind. I feel incredibly grateful just to be in their presence.
Stanley Drucker (top) and Michele Zukovsky.

As I listened, I remembered being a very young clarinetist being inspired by the recordings of these great players. They were my movie stars, my heroes, and I wanted some day to be just like them. It is amazing to think of the thousands upon thousands of clarinetists they have inspired over their long careers as orchestral players, international soloists, and recording artists. They have also taught legions of devoted students.


With two of my wonderful students who volunteered at the festival.

While I will never have the impact on the music world that those legends have, I hope that I can at least impart my love of the instrument and its pedagogy to my students. My teacher and mentor, Kal Opperman, always spoke of 'passing on the flame', meaning passing down the school of clarinet playing, its pedagogy, traditions, and history. That is incredibly important to me- those traditions are precious, and I want to be a part of that continuous flow that stretches from the past and on and on into the future. I don't want to break that chain, and I hope and pray that my students and their students will carry on long after I am gone.

I gave a presentation on Kal Opperman's life and pedagogy. I can't wait until my book on Kal is released later this year!

A meeting of the ICA State Chairs…

It was exciting to see my solo book on display at Muncy Winds in the exhibit hall!

This week at ClarinetFest has been incredibly inspirational and emotional for me. My best friend and I premiered a work written for our Amicitia Duo that was inspired by our long friendship and our mothers. When we played the movement dedicated to my mom, I felt her with me so strongly. How grateful we both are to composer Scott McAllister for this wonderful work that was so well-received. We also love the idea that this piece and the other music that we are commissioning for our Duo will be a part of our legacy to the clarinet world.

Performance time!

With composer Scott McAllister- an amazingly talented musician and a wonderful human being.

I came to Orlando a week ago wondering if I would be able to do a good job with everything ahead of me, not feeling mentally or emotionally prepared after the sad events of the past couple of months. I leave for home early in the morning grateful for a very successful week, grateful that I met the challenges and also had the gifts of quality time with my best friend and the musical shot in the arm of hearing amazing players from all over the world, from the up and coming stars of the clarinet world to the world-renowned legends.

Now it's time to go home to Dan and Sophie, my only sadness being that this will be my first time coming home from a ClarinetFest without Cooper and Kasey there to greet me. However, I'm doing my best to focus on the wonderful man and sweet old pup who will be there, so happy to see me, welcoming me with open arms and a wagging tail. Such a gift.

Sweet Sophie loves Dan's yoga mat.


4 thoughts on “On Walking Among Legends and Passing on the Flame

  1. How special, to be in the company of those that have inspired you, through
    the years. Your achievements are celebrated, as well. Sharing the experience with
    your students, and best friend, a bonus, indeed.
    Welcome home. 💕

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