Chicago Philharmonic Principal Clarinet Linda Baker

Linda BakerQ. Who inspired you to pursue music as a career?

A. There was always music in our home. My older brother played wonderful piano, my father loved to play the guitar and sing, my mother also played the piano and sang. They tell me that when I was a toddler I kept trying to climb onto the piano bench and actually pulled it over onto myself a couple of times. My parents decided for my own safety that they should go ahead and teach me to play. Later when I had turned my attention to the clarinet and bass clarinet I was fortunate to attend a public high school with an exceptionally fine band program. Our band traveled extensively, performing throughout the U.S. and even in Europe. Continuing my musical studies and pursuing a career in music seemed the natural thing to do. Quite a few of us went on to become professionals. (Our drum major now plays trombone in the New York Philharmonic).

Q. What new endeavors would you like to see the CPO pursue in the future?
A. My own high school band experiences were so profoundly influential. I grew up in the Washington DC area and we were able to work with many members of the various military bands there. It is so important that the CPO provide that same sort of mentoring to music students in the Chicago area, through Master Classes, small ensembles visiting schools, and bringing as many young people as we can to rehearsals and our concerts.

Q. What do you like most about the CPO’s ensemble approach to creating music?
A. We all know each other so well. Playing opera is in many ways “oversized Chamber Music,” with all sorts of split-second “mid-course corrections” needed to keep it all together. With everyone’s internal musical radar tuned to the same frequency we don’t have to worry so much about the gritty details of ensemble and we can get straight to the heart of making exceptional music together.

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