Thursday, April 30, 2009

In the Spotlight: John Klinghammer, clarinet

Why did you start playing the clarinet?
When I was in the seventh grade, my two best friends played saxophone in the school band, and I felt left out. So, I joined up, hoping to play saxophone as well. The band director, however, told us right away that he had too many saxophones and too many much for that plan. I narrowed it down to the trombone, which I thought looked like a lot of fun with the slide and all, and the clarinet, which I guess I just thought looked cool. I went with the clarinet after determining that the trombone was too big and heavy for my skinny middle school self to carry home every day.

When did you know you wanted to play professionally?
I'm not was never really a plan until very late in my education. My junior year at the University of Oregon I switched from a music education major to a clarinet performance major...this was perhaps the first time I started thinking seriously about making a living by playing the clarinet. But I wasn't really sure if I could do it until I finally won my first job, with the Jacksonville Symphony, eight years later.

How do you see our education programs making a difference?
I really think the Omaha Symphony has one of the best overall education programs of any orchestra in the country, and by sheer volume of students that we play for, we can't help but make a difference. I still remember the Eugene Symphony concerts I went to as a 4th grader in Eugene, Oregon... it made a lasting impression on me, and certainly gave me some early enthusiasm and appreciation for classical music. I have no doubt we make a similar impression on the young, aspiring musicians of Omaha.

What are your favorite things and/or places in Omaha?
I love some of the new places opening up in the Old Market...Blue, the Wine Company. I think the Slowdown is one of the best places to see a concert anywhere. And I am a big fan of the new pedestrian bridge, which enables me to bike into Iowa without having to load up the car.

What's the best kept secret about the Omaha Symphony?
Not sure how much of a secret this is, but we have a reputation among visiting artists as being an extremely cool, friendly orchestra.

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