classical artists

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    Julian Bliss

    Mike Lawson | March 12, 2009

    Wind instruments don't lend themselves to the child prodigy paradigm. At the age of five or six, when some determined youngsters may already have two or three years of piano or violin study under their belts, the lungs in the human body usually just aren't developed enough to sustain the breath control necessary to play reeded instruments. In fact, most children don't have the physical capacity to play wind instruments until they are 11 or 12 years old. That, in part, is what makes Julian Bliss so special.

    This quiet and unassuming young man, now aged 19, has already been playing clarinet for 15 years and, during that time, has graced some of the world's most reputable concert halls. At the tender age of 12, Julian was invited to perform for England's Queen Elizabeth II, at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of her coronation. The performance was broadcast live in over 40 countries. Julian has also already collaborated with many of the world's top classical artists, including Joshua Bell, Steven Issalis, Misha Maisky, Steven Kavacavich, Elena Bashkirova, Julian Rachlin, Simon Trepceski, and Helen Grimaud.

    School Band & Orchestra's resident clarinetist, publisher Rick Kessel, caught up with the young phenom at the recent Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago. Also present was clarinet designer and technician Morrie Backun, who currently serves as the director of product development for Conn-Selmer's Leblanc clarinets. three chatted about Julian's metoric rise through the classical music world, as well as some of the tricks for achieving a great sound on the clarinet.

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