Name: Kathryn Nevin ("Kay")
Hometown: Elmhurst, Illinois
Years with the Redlands Symphony: 16 Years as a Contracted Player, 15 Years as a Principal Clarinet + Subbed for Several Years Prior to Holding a Contract
What other groups do you play with?
I am a member of the Chamber Orchestra at St. Matthew's, the Long Beach Municipal Band every summer, the Desert Symphony, and I have played with San Diego Symphony, Pasadena Symphony, New West Symphony, Long Beach Opera, Santa Barbara Symphony, Opera Santa Barbara, Long Beach Opera, Monterey Symphony and Fresno Philharmonic.
I also have two active chamber ensembles, Calico Winds, a wind quintet, and Claremont Clarinet Quartet, as well as chamber music with my colleagues in Redlands Symphony and the School of Music at the University of Redlands.
Where did you study music?
I earned my Bachelor of Music in Clarinet Performance from Northern Illinois University, and my Masters and Doctoral degrees were from the University of Southern California.
Who are some of your favorite composers?
I love so many! Bach and Mozart, of course. But also Brahms, Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky, and Copland. I also am intrigued by music of Hindemith, Messiaen, Bartok, and John Adams.
What are some of your favorite pieces to play and/or hear?
- Bach Golberg Variations
- Dvorak Symphony No. 7
- Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique
- Bartok Concerto for Orchestra
- Messiaen Quartet for the End of Time (cl, vl, vc, pno)
- Stavinsky L'Histoire du Soldat
- Copland Sextet (cl, string quartet, pno) (also known in chamber symphony scoring)
- Brahms Quintet (cl and string quartet)
- Hindemith Symphonic Metamorphosis
- Ravel Daphnis and Chloe
- Debussy Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
What’s one thing you think people don’t know (but should!) about your instrument?
The clarinet is so versatile...we are great blending instruments and we can play a huge variety of styles. The classical clarinet does not usually play with vibrato, so we are especially cognitive of sustain and subtle dynamic shaping, which gives the tone a kind of purity. To me, it has the capacity to express the greatest range of emotions, and the deepest, most soulful kind of music.
What was your most memorable performance?
I had the opportunity to play in the orchestra for Long Beach Opera's production of Nixon in China by John Adams. It was so difficult, and so thrilling.
I also remember performing the Brahms Clarinet Quintet at 8am in the morning for high school students in Santa Monica. I had gotten up so early to get to the school, and was feeling empty and drained. But from the first notes played by my wonderful string colleagues, there was a spark. Suddenly all fatigue and fogginess dissipated, and we came alive in the performance of this masterpiece. Brahm's music has that kind of power...it gets under your skin, it gets in your blood.
What was your proudest moment as a musician?
I really enjoyed performing the Mozart Concerto with the Redlands Symphony Orchestra...that is a very special piece and it was a wonderful opportunity.
Calico Winds also played at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall in NYC. My parents and sisters flew in from Chicago to attend the performance. Living here in LA, with all my family in Chicago, they don't get to hear me perform all that often. It was great to share that moment with them.
What was the most interesting or bizarre performance experience you’ve had?
I was part of a special Yamaha sponsored concert a number of years ago, happening at Disneyland in conjunction with the NAMM show. I was in the orchestra that backed up artists like David Foster, Chaka Khan, Michael McDonald, Sarah McLachlan, Earth, Wind and Fire, Toto, and others, concluding with Elton John.
Each artist/group played 2 or 3 hits, and because they all were Yamaha artists, they each had their own piano and set-up that had to be changed in between. To keep the audience entertained between set changes, the comedian Sinbad came out and told jokes.
Elton John played an extended piano solo as part of "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" and it was outrageous. As a freelancer, you get to play pop music sometimes, but rarely would you work with as many famous artists in one performance. The whole concert was surreal.