Clarinetist, concertmaster bid adieu to Memphis Symphony

Posted on: May 21, 2012

In Friday’s (5/18) Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee), Jon W. Sparks writes, “This weekend’s performances of ‘Carmina Burana’ by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra will be a farewell for one of the MSO’s longest-serving members, as well as its concertmaster. James Gholson, who will retire as principal clarinetist, arrived in Memphis in 1972 to be professor of clarinet at Memphis State University. By chance, there was also a second-chair opening at the MSO that he secured, so for four decades, he’s been teaching and performing. … This weekend’s Masterworks performances will also be a farewell performance for the MSO’s concertmaster, Susanna Perry Gilmore, who has taken the position of concertmaster of the Omaha Symphony. … When Gholson was appointed first-chair clarinetist in 1979, he became one of the earliest African-American principal musicians among American orchestras, as well as the first African-American principal clarinetist at the MSO. His career includes working with all four of the MSO’s music directors, starting with Vincent deFrank. … While much of the symphony’s emphasis in recent years has been on reaching out to the community, it’s something that, Gholson notes, has been around since deFrank’s tenure when the orchestra played at schools, and in [Music Director Alan] Balter’s days when it played at different venues around town. For Gholson, both as an educator and a performer, the outreach is essential to widening the audience.”

Posted May 21, 2012