Luke is a Clarinetist in our orchestra. We've asked him a few questions in this installment of Member Spotlight!
How did you come to study the clarinet and what drew you to the instrument?
Around age 10, I began my study of music by learning piano. Because music played such a major role in my church experience as well, I anticipated the day that I would be able to join in the music ministry. However, we had several advanced pianists so I knew that it would be many years before my meager talents would sufficiently blossom. The music director saw my frustration and desire to contribute and offered a clarinet she had on hand. I quickly took to the instrument and within a few weeks had garnered enough skill to play in the Christmas program.
What is some of your favorite repertoire?
As a clarinetist, I have a high regard for Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto. It’s one of the classic pieces in the repertoire and requires a high degree of finesse and sensitivity to do justice to its playful yet emotionally deep character. The Weber clarinet concertos are also among my favorites to perform due to their technical and flashy nature. That said, I am more at home performing in a chamber group than as a solo performer. Beethoven’s Trio (Op. 11 Bb Major) for piano, cello, and clarinet is one of my all-time favorite chamber pieces. Chamber music highlights both the collaborative and intimate nature of music-making. The emotional thrill of sharing a sharply executed musical moment alongside fellow performers is hard to match.
Who have been some of the most influential people in your life?
First off, I would have to say my parents. They instilled a love for God and a love for music in me at an early age, shaping my character and developing a sensitivity for others. Musically, the minister of music, Judy Biddle, at my church who encouraged me to begin my journey as a musician, culminating with my professors Ian Greitzer and Dr. Markward at Rhode Island College who mentored me and chiseled out the finer aspects of bringing music to the world. All of these individuals cared for me as a person—a trait that I have come to understand as paramount in the teacher-student relationship.
What, for you, is the most fulfilling aspect of your life as a musician?
Theologian Martin Luther stated “Experience proves that, next to the Word of God, only music deserves to be extolled as the mistress and governess of the feeling of the human heart.” I agree with this wholeheartedly. The art of music is a transformative experience, both for the performer and the audience. It transcends language. While post-concert exclamations of “Thank you!” and “Well done!” are always plentiful and certainly appreciated, there is nothing more fulfilling for a performer than an audience member or fellow musician share with you how the musical experience changed their outlook or impacted them emotionally.
Are there any performances or moments in your performing career that stand out in your memory for their significance? Could you tell us what made these performances particularly special for you?
Two concerts from my time at Rhode Island College are particularly memorable. The first was performing Pines of Rome with the Wind Ensemble under the direction of Joseph Foley. The third movement contains one of the most serenely beautiful clarinet solos in the orchestra repertoire. I was so nervous that I would not do it justice. The night of the performance, everything fell into place. It was a truly magical experience for me as the performer, primarily because of the communal energy among my fellow musicians. The tangible sense of unity and camaraderie on stage made it feel as though even the members who were resting were playing through me. Years later, Professor Foley will compliment me on how well I played. It was one of the top performances of my life, yet I have never felt that the moment was completely mine.
The second concert was performing Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring with the Symphony Orchestra. As amateur performers, all of us were intimidated at the thought of attempting such a feat and at times I think we were all just hoping to start and end at the same time, however, we persevered. I played Eb clarinet and worked harder than I ever had to learn my part. The ordeal bonded us as musicians and as friends. We all struggled and we all overcame, turning out a decent performance in the end considering the difficulty. I remember shedding a tear during the applause as I realized that I would more than likely never have the chance to perform this cardinal work again let alone with such a close group of friends.
What would be your dream concert to perform?
Though unlikely, my dream concert to perform would be Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. It is the piece that stirs the deepest passions in my soul, sounding forth as a beacon of hope to the shared brokenness that we all, to some degree, share as humans. Performing it would truly be an honor.
Luke holds a B. A. in Music (2014) and a B. S. in Nursing (2018) from Rhode Island College. He is currently employed as a Registered Nurse at the Providence VA Medical Center.