Alex Fiterstein: His Story, His Gear, His Words of Wisdom

Clarinet Playing

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Hello, I am Alex Fiterstein, clarinetist. I currently teach at the University of Minnesota, but in September will start teaching at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. Very honored to be a part of that legendary school and starting a new class there. I have been playing Vandoren for most of my career. I started out playing on the B45 Lyre mouthpiece and the V12 reeds and then, now I play on B40 Lyre and V12 reeds 3.5 and 3.5+ and also V21 reeds, which I like very much.

Clarinet Playing

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I was born in Belarus and when I was two years old my family moved to Israel and later I came to the states and studied at Interlochen Arts Academy and Juilliard. I was fortunate in 2001 to be a winner of the Carl Nielsen Competition which led to many new possibilities for me and concert invitations. So, I’m very happy to be playing on Vandoren, not only the mouthpiece but also the ligature. I really like this Optimum ligature very much.

Clarinet Playing

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After winning the Nielsen competition that opened up a lot of things for me but also I’ve been playing a lot of chamber music with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York with a lot of great artists. Also, at the 92nd Street Y and at the Marlboro Music Festival where I was fortunate to be for five summers playing chamber music with some of the great artists.

My passions are really chamber music and solo playing but I also got to play a lot in orchestra as well. It’s so interesting to me to be able to do different things and I think with Vandoren, it allows you to feel comfortable in whatever situation you are, and as musicians we have so many different musical environments that we find ourselves in.

So, I played a lot as guest principal with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and also with the KBS Orchestra in South Korea in Seoul under maestro Yoel Levi. Earlier on I played as guest principal with West-East Divan Orchestra with Daniel Barenboim the first few years that he started that project and that was very inspiring.

Upcoming things: this summer I will play at the ICA Clarinet Convention, Concerto by Maslanka with wind ensemble, looking forward to that very much, and also we’ll do a master class; kind of a long, three hour master class at the ICA Convention. So, I hope to see you there.

Clarinet Playing

(4:09)

Practice Tip

One thing with young clarinetists I noticed, with students, something that I think is very important to do if you are serious about studying music at a conservatory later on, is making a really clear practice schedule. Don’t leave the practicing for the last thing that you do. Make sure that it’s something that you do regularly and you get better at as you go because that is the only way that you can really achieve a high level. So, make sure that you kind of plan your practice sessions, even put it in the schedule, and make sure to practice slowly. It’s very important. If you feel like you are distracted or that you have other things on your mind then it’s probably not the best practicing that you’re doing.

Practice is a skill like anything else so it takes time to develop. You’re not going to go from practicing fifteen minutes to two hours a day like this. You need time to build it up. So, start slow and make sure you see the same things, you work on similar things over a period of two or three days. Don’t work on something and then put it away, work on something new. Keep coming back and see your projects. That will make you more excited to continue doing it.

Clarinet Playing

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