Here already in the second decade of the 21st century, there comes a time in one’s life, perhaps after visiting an ICA ClarinetFest, or attending a university Clarinet Day, when a clarinetist has to ask herself: Where did all these clarinets come from?
The year was 2017. I was attending my first ever International Clarinet Association Festival event, and, due to the circumstances of my employment at the time, I was only able to travel to Florida for one day. That’s right. One day. I flew from Cleveland, Ohio, at 5 in the morning to participate in a competition in FLORIDA later that afternoon. I flew back around 7 pm, and was in bed shortly after midnight.
Perhaps it was culture shock, or a complete lack of acclimation time, but the sheer quantity of clarinets and clarinet-related booths taking over the entire ballroom of the hotel completely overwhelmed me. Thousands of vendors lined up their newest, fanciest products of the year for our grubby little hands to try. In the few hours that I had, I made an effort to try a clarinet from as many companies as possible. I certainly wish I had bothered to take any photos, because truly, it was a sight to behold.
This leads me to the question. I have, for my entire professional and student career, been an avid supporter and lover of the Buffet R-13. Toscas and Festivals aside, I always come back to that original Buffet sound and feel I grew up with. Am I outdated or old fashioned? At a mere 29 years of age, I hate to think so! Is the innovation in the industry improving the clarinet sound? Is the meaning of the American Clarinet Sound changing? Or, did I miss it, and is it already gone? And, is that even a bad thing?
If you are a clarinetist, I’m sure you have your opinions, and I’d love to hear them! What is your favorite brand of professional clarinets?