Kathryne Pirtle

Artist Photo

“Due to the poor quality of commercial reeds, I have been making my reeds since 1990. That had given me the highest quality control and level of performance for the chamber, solo and orchestral playing that I do. However, since trying the European Cut Légère reeds, my life has totally changed! I am using no cane reeds and have retired my reed machine. It is a miracle to have so many of these reeds literally be the best ones I have ever played! My practicing and performing have a whole new feeling of ease and freedom! It is so incredible to play reeds that are not changing with the temperature, humidity or any other number of reasons. Being able to depend on this level of reed every day is truly a blessing to the artist and the art of playing clarinet. Thank you for developing this cut!” – K. Pirtle

KATHRYNE PIRTLE is clarinetist of The Orion Ensemble, founded in 1992. The ensemble performs three series in metropolitan Chicago, appears on live broadcasts on 98.7 WFMT and tours throughout North America. Their extensive outreach includes a chamber music camp called OPUS and a school partnership program, mentoring high school chamber groups in selected schools and the Chicago Youth Symphony.

In a Gramophone review, Donald Rosenberg states, “Clarinetist Kathryne Pirtle plays with seamless elegance, telling nuances and spacious tonal resources.” Lawrence Johnson wrote, “Kathryne Pirtle’s fluent and communicative clarinet playing was first-class throughout. Her refined and aria-like phrasing in the lovely, long-breathed slow movement proved a highlight, with the glowing coda beautifully rendered,” in the Chicago Classical Review.

She has served as Principal Clarinet of the Lake Forest Symphony since 1990. Her other orchestral affiliations include the Lyric Opera Orchestra, Ravinia Festival Orchestra, Chicago Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Grant Park Symphony and Elgin Symphony.

In 2004, Hal Leonard Corporation released her first solo album, Works for Unaccompanied Clarinet, The Music of J. S. Bach from the transcription of H. Voxman (Rubank). In 2017, she released her second solo album, Telemann Twelve Fantasias Transcribed for Clarinet Solo from the transcription of Sidney Forrest (Southern Music).

Ms. Pirtle has taught privately since 1980. She gives master classes on clarinet pedagogy and chamber music literature, as well as nonprofit chamber music organizational development. She has served on the faculties of Wheaton College Conservatory of Music, Northern Illinois University, Bradley University, Indiana University and New Trier High School. She currently teaches and coaches chamber music at her home studio and Hinsdale South High School.

Kathryne is a Backun Artist and performs on Backun MoBa clarinets and mouthpieces. She is also a Légère Artist, performing on Légère reeds and a Silverstein Artist, performing on the Maestro ligature. 

Ms. Pirtle has written a book on nutrition using traditional foods: Performance Without Pain (New Trends, 2006) and an e-book: Acid Reflux—A National Epidemic and Precursor to Chronic Illness—Achieving Lasting Healing with Traditional Foods (2009). Since 2004, she has given more than 100 workshops in the U.S. and internationally and has appeared on numerous radio and television shows. In 2012, she was a speaker at the Wise Traditions Conference in London, England.  Kathryne has been published in the International Musician, International Clarinet, The Autism File Global, Advance Magazine (a publication for physical therapy) and Wise Traditions

Orion Ensemble
Author Performance Without Pain