Canada’s top clarinetist to perform with OSO

James Campbell has a pretty simple answer for how he came to be called Canada's preeminent clarinetist.

Canada's top clarinetist to perform with OSO

With more than 40 recordings, 30 commissioned works and a Juno Award, James Campbell has a simple story for how he came to be called Canada’s preeminent clarinetist.

“Well, you just hang out for awhile,” Campbell laughed. “You hang out long enough until somebody actually thinks that I guess.”

Campbell is joining the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra and the Okanagan Youth Symphony Orchestra in their performance of Heroes and Heroines in Penticton on Feb. 13.

Like most wind players, Campbell got his hands on a clarinet for the first time in junior high, and he recalls that it wasn’t much of a choice.

“It found me, I didn’t necessarily go looking for it,” Campbell said.

It’s not the front-and-centre, attention grabbing instrument, but instead the clarinet finds its niche in having flexibility and diverse range.

“It’s not a mainstream instrument, like piano or violin, but it is an instrument that finds itself in a lot of musical genres,” Campbell said.

Jazz, gypsy music, classical music and Campbell has even cut an album with his son who plays rock guitar.

“It’s a really flexible instrument and has been used for a long, long time in many different ways. It has a wide range of expression,” Campbell said.

That wide range will be on display with both classical and jazz-based works in Campbell’s upcoming performance with the OSO.

“(The show) really shows the different voices of the clarinet and the different kind of colours and sounds the instrument can do. To me, that’s a really fun concert to do,” Campbell said.

The clarinet isn’t much of a solo instrument, usually joined by piano, an orchestra, a string quartet or a band, Campbell said. He recently came off a set of contemporary music with a piano trio in Toronto and toured Europe with a string quartet.

“Life isn’t lonely, let’s put it that way,” Campbell laughed. “It works in a lot of different ways.”

Tickets for the performance in Penticton are available by phone through Kelowna Tickets at 250-862-2867 or at 888-974-9170.