Robert Spring, professor in the School of Music, Dance, and Drama at Arizona State University, received the International Clarinet Association’s highest honor, the Honorary Membership Award, at the 2021 annual conference of the association. The award, in return for all of his accomplishments, is given to clarinetists around the world who have made a significant difference in the clarinet world through their performance, teaching and service.
“Thanks to the ICA, I have met and interacted with the best clarinetists in the world and my students have been able to ‘rub shoulders’ with their clarinet heroes,” said Spring. “I can’t say enough good things about the ICA and what it stands for.”
ASU professor Robert Spring has commissioned over 100 new compositions involving the clarinet, many of which have been presented at conferences and used as competition pieces.
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Spring and fellow clarinetist Chuck West were virtually inducted as honorary members in July, the culmination of a journey that began when West invited Spring to perform for the first time at an ICA conference in 1988 Spring gave a virtual recital to ClarinetFest 2021 as an honorary member.
Former honorary members include former principal clarinetists of the New York Philharmonic; world-renowned soloists including David Shifrin, the great jazzman Eddie Daniels and professor Guy Deplus of the Paris Conservatory; and university professors from the Eastman School of Music, the University of Michigan, the Juilliard School and conservatories around the world.
“Of the many great clarinetists of the past four decades, few have had such a significant impact on the clarinet world as Robert Spring,” said Wayne bailey, former teacher and director of the former ASU music school. “His career as a performer, commander and teacher has literally changed the clarinet and the way it is played.”
Spring, an artist Henri Selmer Paris, has commissioned over 100 new compositions involving the clarinet, many of which have been presented at conferences and used as competition pieces. His commissions and teaching were featured in ICA’s quarterly magazine in March 2020 (page 38).
He was President of the ICA from 1998 to 2000 and a member of the Board of Directors from 1996 to 2002, and he hosted the ASU Annual Conference in 1995.
Its alumni have been active as performers, officers, conference hosts and educators. More than 30 students and alumni presented at the 2019 ICA Annual Conference were from ASU, a first achievement for a school, and six of the 12 young people selected as finalists for the Young Artists competition were students of the KNEW.
“Having studied with Bob for five years, worked with him professionally at ASU for nine years, and performed with him countless times, I know his most significant influence transcends the clarinet,” said Joshua Gardner, clinical associate professor in the School of Music, Dance and Theater. “Bob taught us all how not to give up, how to dream big and not let anyone or anything tell us we can’t, and how to care deeply about what we do and who we teach.”