Eric Wachmann is principal clarinet of wcfsymphony and joins wcfsymphony’s Crazy Clarinets for outreach programs across northeast Iowa. Outside of the symphony community, Eric is a busy teacher and performer and is also in the process of working his way up from shoden to junshihan on the shakuhachi (read on if you have no idea what we are talking about!):
“As the clarinet professor and department chair at Wartburg College I am responsible for teaching all clarinet students and one of the core music theory courses as well as serving as chair, which usually means too many meetings and too much paperwork! Of course I also try to stay musically active. In addition to playing in wcfsymphony I try to give one or two chamber or solo concerts each semester. Everyday I consider myself lucky that I am able to do something that I love, and not something that I have to do because I need the job.
“As a teacher I love to see my students grow and mature as players and performers and see them succeed to become educators, music therapists and performers. These are the reasons I became a college professor.
“As a performer I enjoy the interaction between what I have to say musically and the reaction of the audience. This is why I really enjoy chamber music – you have that close, personal interaction with the audience. I also enjoy playing with wcfsymphony because I really enjoy working with the musicians and Jason. The music is usually very interesting, Jason is always experimenting with new ways to present classical music and he is great to work with – something rare with most conductors.
“There are challenges to being a professional musician. I try to practice every day but with teaching, performing and administrative duties sometimes there isn’t quite enough time before that first rehearsal. I rely on my experience as well, and somehow I get it done.
“As professional musicians we also face a lot of competition with everything out there grabbing at people’s attention. Information, whether news, movies or music, is so immediate these days it is difficult to convince people of the importance of slowing down and enjoy something like an orchestra concert. This is especially true as our younger generations become more and more connected to technology.
“My secondary musical life involves playing the shakuhachi – a Japanese end-blown flute. I currently hold the rank of shoden and will hopefully obtain jun-shihan – teacher’s level – soon!”