NORMAN — Following a two-year hiatus, the University of Oklahoma will once again present its summer Clarinet Symposium, a three-day festival featuring concerts, master classes and exhibits that celebrate all aspects of the clarinet.
Established in the late 1970s by David Etheridge, the OU Clarinet Symposium was an annual musical event for more than 30 years until Etheridge's death in 2010.
Suzanne Tirk, assistant professor of clarinet at OU, has organized the 2013 symposium, scheduled Thursday through Saturday at Catlett Music Center, 500 W Boyd.
More than two dozen clarinetists who represent major orchestras and university schools of music across the country will perform and discuss their chosen instrument. Among the featured artists are David Shifrin, an international soloist who teaches at the Yale School of Music; Gregory Raden, principal clarinet of the Dallas Symphony; and Charles Neidich, a distinguished American soloist.
Each will perform an evening concert in Catlett's Sharp Concert Hall. The Verdehr Trio, an ensemble-in-residence at Michigan State University, will celebrate its four-decade history in music. The group's concert will showcase favorite repertoire from its 40-years as an ensemble.
The 36th annual Clarinet Symposium will also pay tribute to Etheridge, who guided the popular event from a fledgling experiment to one of the country's most celebrated and highly respected symposiums. A free concert honoring Etheridge will begin at 3:30 p.m. Friday.
“We have invited many of David's colleagues, friends and former students to perform and share stories about the man who started this symposium,” Tirk said. “David was a kindhearted person and everybody loved his smile and his sense of humor.
“We needed to celebrate that this year. This will be a celebration not only of David's life and career but also the history of the symposium. It's become a huge event for clarinetists from around the world.”
Tirk believes one of the reasons behind the symposium's success is the informal and inviting atmosphere in which the event takes place. Guest artists welcome the opportunity to engage with visitors.
“Because everything happens in the same building, you can walk down hall and run into these major artists,” Tirk said. “I started attending this symposium several years ago and it was where I met many performers who have since become very good friends. The artists don't play a concert and leave town; they stick around, listen to concerts and talk to guests. People who come to this symposium feel like they're part of a really great event.”