Seattle Symphony Clarinet Laura DeLuca reflects on the people who have supported her career, from her parents and teachers to the audiences at Benaroya Hall.
By Andrew Stiefel
It takes many years of hard work, and a little help along the way, before a musician reaches the stage at Benaroya Hall.
For Seattle Symphony Dr. Robert Wallace Clarinet and E-Flat Clarinet Laura DeLuca, that journey started with her family. “Both my mom and dad loved to listen to music,” she recalls. “My mom played piano, she sang in the choir. My father sang in the shower, but he also knew a lot about music and opera,” she laughs.
Laura (who prefers to go by Laurie) says her journey started with the film The Sound of Music, starring Julie Andrews. “I connected with Julie Andrews, of course, and her voice, the family. It was pretty magical,” she explains.
Her family had an old piano in the basement and she started experimenting with the different sounds she could make on it. Her parents took notice and enrolled her in piano lessons, but it wasn’t until the end of elementary school that she started playing clarinet.
“Like all little girls in fourth grade I wanted to play the flute,” Laurie grins. “But my father suggested that I give the clarinet a try. I’ve asked him why he said that, but he says he can’t remember now.”
It wasn’t until she entered high school, however, that Laurie started to imagine a career as a professional musician. “I had people around me, students and teachers, who were very serious about making great music,” she recalls. “I had a fantastic clarinet teacher, I had amazing band directors, I had a youth symphony conductor. All of this happened within two, three years and I just lit up. They encouraged me, and I had all this support around me.”
Almost every musician in the Seattle Symphony has similar stories about the people who supported and inspired them along the way. As Laurie eloquently notes, “taking auditions is like entering the Olympics. It’s very different from what you do on stage in an orchestra, so there’s a whole set of skills that you have to develop.” She laughs, “and it took me 40 tries to master those skills.”
Laurie vividly remembers coming home after one of her first unsuccessful auditions. “I went from the airport to my teacher's apartment that night, knocking on his door, and asking to talk with him,” Laurie says. “He listened to me and said, ‘you know, I really believe in you.’ And just hearing those words helped me get through that disappointment and show up the next day.”
Her persistence paid off and Laurie joined the Seattle Symphony in 1986.
Now in her 33rd season with the orchestra, Laurie still looks forward to playing on stage with her colleagues every week. “I feel very blessed to be part of this family, and it is a family. It fills many roles in my life. I get to play incredible music with amazing musicians and they’re all my friends.”
For Laurie, part of the joy of playing in the orchestra is interacting with the audience at Benaroya Hall each night. “I can feel that energy of the audience listening when there's silence in the music. Everybody is just on edge. And we not only want to bring the music to them, but we want that deep experience for ourselves, too. This is why we chose music in the first place.”
She adds, “sometimes there's the cut off and there's silence at the end because it was so riveting. And that's when you know that everybody got something wonderful.”
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Posted on December 14, 2018READ MORE BEYOND THE STAGE