Welcome our Clarinet Symposium Guest Artists
A native of China, Lin Ma joined the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as assistant principal and Eb clarinetist in 2015. Previously, he played a one year position as second clarinet in the Houston Symphony. Ma won the 2014 Ima Hogg International Competition and performed as soloist with the Houston Symphony Orchestra at Jones Hall. Later, he appeared as soloist at the Baytown Symphony Orchestra’s 2014-15 season opener. In addition, Ma has soloed with National Repertory Orchestra at the NRO music festival in 2013.
Ma earned his Master of Music degree at Rice University, under the tutelage of Richie Hawley, and he holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Oberlin Conservatory of Music where he studied with Richard Hawkins. As a student at Rice, he performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and Carnegie Hall in New York City. Ma has also studied at the Idyllwild Arts Academy with Yehuda Gilad, and the Middle School attached to the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing with Yuanfu Huang.
Deborah Bish is Associate Professor of Clarinet at Florida State University. Before moving to Tallahassee in 2001, she served as the professor of clarinet at Henderson State University. She has performed with orchestras throughout the United States, including the Arizona Opera (most notably in a production of the Ring Cycle), the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra under the direction of Jeffrey Siegel, the Phoenix Symphony, the North Carolina Symphony, and the Arkansas Symphony. Currently, she is a member of the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra.
She has been featured as a recitalist, clinician, and chamber musician at several festivals and conventions including performances at Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall; the Shanghai Conservatory in Shanghai, China; the International Clarinet Association’s ClarinetFests in Lincoln, Austin, Vancouver, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City; the College Band Director’s National Association Convention in Atlanta; the Florida Music Educator’s Association Convention in Tampa, Florida; the Wallowa Lake Chamber Music Festival in Enterprise, Oregon; and the Festival Internacional de Inverno in Vale Vêneto, Brazil.
Dr. Bish is very active in the commission, research, and performance of new works. Her recent projects include a recording of the works of Gregory Wanamaker, featuring two pieces written for her by Wanamaker titled clarikinetics and Sonata.
Her biography appears in the twenty-fourth edition of the Marquis Who's Who of American Women and several editions of Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. She has served as an adjudicator in a variety of competitions, including both the Young Artist’s Competition and the High School Competition for the International Clarinet Association. Dr. Bish holds degrees from Arizona State University, where she studied under Robert Spring, and Florida State University, where she studied under Frank Kowalsky.
Yao Guang Zhai is the Principal Clarinetist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra appointed by Maestra Marin Alsop.
Yao played with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for 5 seasons, which he joined in 2011 as the Associate Principal, appointed by Maestro Peter Oundjian. The Globe and Mailconsidered that he “… delivered the most beautiful lyrical playing of the evening.” Toronto Star described his performances as “…played with mesmerizing grace.” In 2015 he has also won audition for Associate Principal at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
A native of Tai Yuan, China, Yao began his musical pursuits at the age of three on violin, then switched to clarinet seven years later. He studied at China’s Central Conservatory of Music and the Idyllwild Arts Academy in Idyllwild, California, then was admitted with full scholarship to the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia as the only clarinetist that year, and the first Chinese clarinet student of the school. Yao was instructed by many distinguished clarinetists, including Yehuda Gilad, Donald Montanaro, Ricardo Morales and Joaquin Valdepeñas.
In 2009, Yao represented the Curtis Institute of Music on tour in the U.S. as the solo and chamber clarinetist. His solo performance was also awarded the Curtis Institute CD of the Year. During his studies Yao has won the Hellam Competition, Aspen Music Festival Concerto Competition, the Blount-Slawson Young Artists Competition, the Spotlight Award and the Pacific Symphony Concerto Competition. After graduation, he held position as Principal Clarinet at Shanghai Symphony Orchestra in China for two seasons.
Along with his solo appearances with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Yao has performed with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (China), Toronto Summer Music Festival Orchestra, Pacific Symphony Orchestra, the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, the American Academy of Conducting Orchestra (Aspen) and the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. He is featured to play the Copland Clarinet Concerto with the Victoria Symphony in Canada in 2017.
Yao has actively participated in various music festivals as both a soloist and chamber musician, such as: Hong Kong International Chamber Music Festival, invited by violinist Cho-Liang Lin; Music From Angel Fire Festival, invited by violinist Ida Kavafian; Laguna Beach Chamber Music Festival, invited by pianist Christopher O’Riley; Aspen Music Festival; Pacific Music Festival in Japan; Beijing International Clarinet Festival; Toronto Summer Music Festival; and ChongQing International Clarinet Festival in China.
Yao was one of the clarinetists chosen to record the Royal Conservatory of Music’s exam level commercial CD, which has been sold across North America. He also played principal clarinet during the live recording of Messiah with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and conductor Sir Andrew Davis in 2015. The CD is to be released in 2017 by Chandos Records.
Yao Guang Zhai is a Buffet Crampon Performing Artist.
William Blayney is highly regarded as a soloist, clinician, and clarinet pedagogue. His wide range of experience extends from playing with the Atlanta and Seattle Symphonies, opera and ballet companies in New York, Baltimore, Atlanta, and Seattle, to playing First Clarinet on Broadway and on movie soundtracks such as Die Hard III. He is on many of the SSO’s CDs including the premiere recording of David Diamond’s 11th Symphony on which he plays First Clarinet.
Upon receipt of his Bachelor of Music Degree in Clarinet Performance from the Peabody Conservatory, he was invited to teach in their Preparatory Department. While in Baltimore he also taught at the Baltimore High School for the Performing Arts and the University of Maryland (UMBC). Known also for his interest in and knowledge of historical clarinetists and their recorded legacy, he is preparing a series of historical recordings of Great Clarinetists of the 20th Century. Mr. Blayney’s three clarinet teachers were all noted for their beauty of sound and expressive musicality. They were his father, Donald R. Blayney, Ignatius Gennusa, and David Weber.