I cannot describe what I imagined our Street Symphony performance at the Lynwood Jail would be like. Since I had no baseline other than media depictions of prisons, I consciously wiped the slate clean so that when the time came I could have the purest possible experience. Now that I look back on it, there was a purity that characterized our entire visit.I don’t believe I’ve ever felt an audience soak in music the way the women did at Lynwood that day. It wasn’t just their quiet concentration that I noticed. It was the sense that for them our music represented a deep and vital form of contact. There was visible emotion to be sure – some of it powerful and haunting – but there was also an atmosphere of true appreciation and curiosity. The most memorable moment of music did not come from our Mozart quintet, but from one woman who was persuaded by her fellow prisoners to sing for all of us. She sang what I think was a song by Adele in a beautiful, steady voice, with an honesty that was perfect and profound. I know from what was said in the room that our audience was extremely grateful we had performed for them. The most potent feeling I had was a sense of gratitude for what they had given us.
About the Author
Clarinetist DAVID HOWARD has been a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 1981, when, at age 25, he was hired by then Music Director Carlo Maria Giulini. Over the last few seasons he has performed and given master classes at international festivals in Tel Aviv, Vancouver, Helsinki, Beijing, London, Stockholm, and Caracas. With the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, Howard performed as soloist in John Harbison’s Concerto for Oboe, Clarinet, and Strings under the direction of the composer; he was also the bass clarinet soloist in Iannis Xenakis’Échange, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. Previously, Howard was principal clarinetist with the New Jersey Symphony and the New Haven Symphony. A Los Angeles native, he received a BA in Russian Literature from Yale University, graduating magna cum laude. In collaboration with former Philharmonic pianist Zita Carno, Howard recorded a compact disc for the Centaur label entitled Capriccio: Mid-century Music for Clarinet, which includes works by Leonard Bernstein, Paul Hindemith, and Witold Lutosławski. He has also released a compact disc on the Yarlung label, which includes works by Esa-Pekka Salonen, Steven Stucky, Galina Ustvolskaya, and Brahms; this disc was also released as a high-resolution download by Linn Records. From 2012 to 2013 Howard served as acting associate principal clarinet of the Philharmonic. He has served on the faculty of the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California since 1986. Visit David at davidhowardclarinet.com.