The International Clarinet Association, a Treasure Chest of Opportunities

Jim Snyder

I love when I discover something new … at least new for me.

I got a call to perform the “Artie Shaw Clarinet Concerto” with the wonderful Licorice Sticks Clarinet Orchestra recently. When I asked what the occasion was, the caller told me it was for the International Clarinet Association’s ClarinetFest 2017.

“The International Clarinet Association? That’s a thing?”

“Of course it is! Where’ve you been?” said the indignant voice on the phone.

Well I’m here to tell ya, the International Clarinet Association (ICA) is a glorious thing!

First founded in 1973, the ICA provides performance opportunities, advice from pros, blogs, and explorations into clarinet design. It hosts yearly competitions for research papers, musical compositions, and high school and young artist soloists.

But the annual ClarinetFest is the main event. The multi-day gathering is held in a different city each year (Ostend, Belgium in 2018!). Clarinetists from all over the world were here in Orlando to perform, learn, or just hang this past July. There were concerts, lectures, clinics, and workshops going on all day and night.

The vendor floor was really exciting. Instrument manufacturers, inventors, and craftspeople from all over the world had booths where attendees could not only see the products and innovations but also try them. Wanna meet and speak with the person who actually designed your instrument? Here was your chance.

I must say the coolest thing for this reed-wetter, though, was sitting in the “warm-up room” where various ensembles would prepare just prior to their performances. I heard some high school-aged (and younger!) clarinet ensembles that were absolutely stunning.

The ICA puts out a quarterly publication (included with the yearly membership) that offers teaching tips for all levels, CD and music reviews, artist profiles, and more. There’s even an online archive of past issues dating back to the publication’s beginning.

The ICA is a terrific resource for students, teachers, and professionals alike. Look ’em up at clarinet.org.

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