Légère Artist Feature | Cathy Ogram
Why did you choose the clarinet over other reed instruments?
There was a fabulous clarinetist in my neighborhood, growing up. He was a Marcellus student and taught at the University. His name was Robert Fitzer. He was amazing. His son went to school with me, so that is how I happened to hear this “other level” of clarinetistry, not what one would normally be exposed to in school. I started studying with him almost immediately. Interestingly, his son Bobby, eventually became clarinet professor at the same University, Youngstown State University, and used Legere reeds!
What keeps you motivated to practice and play?
Sometines it is difficult to keep going after all these years. Constantly having projects In the hopper is how I keep going. I play with several ensembles, teach, and have a Quartet that is very active. Also, listening to other artists, and getting ideas, makes me then want to put some of those ideas into practice.
What advice would you give to intermediate musicians taking the leap to the advanced/professional tier?
They need to listen to good artists so they have an idea what a high level is. Then they need to practice intelligently, record themselves often and learn to set goals all of the time. Short-term goal and long-term goals will help stay motivated to practice. Also, they can use their time much more effectively if they can use Legere reeds and not spend a lot of their time on reedwork. They could be using all of their time to practice!
How has your musical life changed since you started playing Légère reeds?
Well, nearly all of my time is devoted to music and practice now, not searching through boxes and boxes of reeds. I feel my sound is more mellow (some call dark), I can do all articulations more easily. Playing Legere reeds just took a lot of stress out of playing the clarinet. There is plenty to worry about as a performer, without having to worry about reeds also. I could not stay in the kind of clarinet shape I stay in, if I had to go through what cane players go through. Actual practice would be half as much.
What’s next for you in your musical career?
I am semi retired after a career with the U.S. Army Field Band, followed by teaching many years for Hargrave Military Academy, and playing with the symphony down there. Currently I teach at the Governor’s School for the Arts, Music + Arts, and at home, in addition to performing with several ensembles in the area. I started clarinet quartet Grenazilla a year ago, and that has sort of taken off. We just finished performing for the International Clarinet Association’s Clarinetfest 2017. What a wonderful event, and wonderful time we all had. I do some of the writing for the group, and now finishing up the details of getting a few of my arrangements published. We will begin putting together a new show, I will go back to writing some new things, and we will record and post some new videos. There is an endless amount of work that needs to be done, like our website and connecting with other social media sites. Maybe we will be so lucky as to get to perform at next year’s conference. I play with the Tidewater Winds and Virginia Wind Symphony, both very active performing groups. Rehearsals and concerts are coming up for those groups, as well. I also study piano in my spare time.