• July 4, 2023

Artist Profile: David Shifrin

Artist Profile: David Shifrin

Artist Profile: David Shifrin 1024 576 Welcome to Kingston Chamber Music Festival | Kingston Chamber Music Festival

A Yale University faculty member since 1987, clarinetist David Shifrin is one of only two wind players to have been awarded the Avery Fisher Prize since the award’s inception in 1974. Prior to this accomplishment, his love of music began at a young age. He fondly remembers his father playing violin and opera recordings frequently, but his love for the clarinet ultimately came from a different influence – seeing “The Benny Goodman Story,” a biographical film in which a young Benny Goodman is taught to play the clarinet by a Chicago-based music professor. “I was most impressed by seeing that film at age 10,” he says, “and I fell in love with the clarinet.”

“Always Familiar, Never the Same”

Shifrin has appeared with many of the major orchestras in the United States and abroad, and he has served as principal clarinetist with the Cleveland Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, among others. “Touring as a musician has been a fantastic way to learn about the world,” he says. “Performing chamber music ALWAYS involves unexpected and surprising elements. We spend many hours rehearsing and discussing collaborative interpretations of masterpieces. The beautiful thing about live performance is that it is always familiar, but never the same.”

The Festival Experience

At the KCMF concert on Wednesday, August 2nd, Shifrin will join cellist Yegor Dyachkov and pianist Natalie Zhu for Beethoven’s op. 11 trio, one of a series of early chamber works featuring woodwind instruments. Shifrin will also join pianist Amy Yang for Leonard Bernstein’s clarinet sonata. “It was the first published piece from one of the most important musicians of the 20th century,” he says. Bernstein, an American composer, published his Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in 1942. After being disqualified for military service in World War II due to his chronic asthma, Bernstein focused his efforts on applying his musical expertise to promoting social and political justice that honored his Jewish heritage. “I am equally excited to perform both of these selections,” Shifrin says. “And I am so happy to have the chance to reconnect with musicians and friends. This is what makes the festival experience so special.” 

The Pursuit of Excellence

Shifrin now serves as artistic director of Yale’s Chamber Music Society and Yale in New York, an annual concert series at Carnegie Hall. He has been instrumental in broadening the repertoire for clarinet and orchestra by commissioning and championing the works of 20th and 21st century American composers. “The arts serve as the collective and individual pursuit of excellence and perfection in a far from perfect world,” he says. “I believe this has always been the case and always will be.”