b. 1950, d. --
clarinetist, principal, Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra; teacher, Yale University and Julliard School of Music
Born in New York City, David Shifrin wanted to play clarinet since the day he saw the film, The Benny Goodman Story, at the age of nine. Beginning with lessons from a local junior high school teacher, in two years he had progressed enough so that his older cousin and composer, Lalo Schifrin, spotted his talent and advised his father to invest in a good clarinet.
At 12 David was studying with James Collis – a former student of Daniel Bonade. Although a talented clarinetist, Collis had some unusual ideas about clarinet playing that once David got out in the real world, became a hindrance to his playing. He studied with David Glazer and Herbert Blayman for a few months, and then at 14 he enrolled at the School of Performing Arts in New York. David received a scholarship to Interlochen Academy and attended their summer program for three years in the northern woods of Michigan. While there, he studied with Fred Ormond (a former student of Keith Stein) and under his guidance, David grew immensely as a musician.
Having already won the Interlochen concerto prize several times at the age of 17, David went on to study at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. There, his teacher was Antony Gigliotti, who led him successfully through many auditions and his first concerto dates. After studying with Mitchell Lurie at Santa Barbara one summer, he went to the Blossom Festival in Cleveland with Robert Marcellus. There, he received his first substantial clarinet gig with the American Symphony Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski. Following his study at Curtis and his stint with the American Symphony, David left for Honolulu to play in their symphony and teach at the University of Hawaii for two years. From there he returned to Cleveland after a summer session with the Dallas Symphony, and landed first chair with the Cleveland Orchestra under Lorin Maazel.
After teaching and performing extensively around Cleveland, all the while studying with his old mentor, Robert Marcellus, he was offered a teaching position at the University of Michigan. From that point on he played with a veritable who’s-who of famous musicians and orchestras, and in 1984, had a basset-clarinet made for him by Leonard Gullotta which he has used to give over 100 authentic performances of the Mozart Concerto, the recording of which won a Record of the Year Award.
After leaving the University of Michigan in ’82, he joined Mitchell Lurie to teach at the University of Southern California, only to leave in ’87 to accept invitations to teach at both Yale University and the Julliard School of Music. After marrying and settling down in Connecticut, David received the pristine honor of being awarded an Avery Fisher award – an honor only shared by two other wind players in the world.
David currently plays first clarinet with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra with whom he has played since 1978; and in addition to his teaching positions at Yale and Julliard, actively tours and performs in high demand.