The students in the Music Academy at Camden County Technical Schools (CCTS) were spellbound when Julian Bliss of Great Britain, one of the world’s finest solo clarinetists, personally visited their class on September 11.
“During the first week of school, we were discussing successful young musicians in class, and Bliss was among one of the standouts my students said they wish they could meet,” said Douglas Schmidt, instrumental music teacher. “I was over the moon when he accepted our invitation to speak,” he said. “I kept it a secret from the students until the morning he arrived when he simply walked through our classroom door. It was a great moment and the students were awestruck.”
Bliss, a musical prodigy who began playing the clarinet when he was just four years old, excels as a concerto soloist, chamber musician, jazz artist, master class leader, public speaker and tireless musical explorer.
During his visit to the Music Academy at CCTS, Julian spoke about the joys and struggles of being a musician, and the education and dedication it takes to do the job professionally. He told the students of the elation he felt to play before an audience of more than 12,000 and when he performed for Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip and Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle six times before his thirteenth birthday.
Bliss said he is equally elated when he has the opportunity to talk about Music as a career to students. “Work hard everyday to achieve your dream and don’t let anyone discourage you,” he said. “Even though I am a professional now, I still practice every day. I mentally prepare as well. Nothing can be achieved without a good foundation. Learn all you can and practice, practice, practice.”
Bliss, of course, dazzled those in attendance with his incredible talent as he performed several selections, including Flight of the Bumblebee, on the clarinet.
“Mr. Bliss devoted an entire day of his current U.S. tour to our Music Academy students extolling and personally demonstrating the tangible rewards of hard work, character, determination, controlling stage anxiety, and a systematic approach to physical and cognitive skill development of any kind,” said Schmidt. “Jessica Thomas, our vocal music instructor, and I are so very grateful to him for sharing his talents and inspirational words with us.”
The breadth and depth of Julian’s artistry are reflected in the diversity and distinction of his work. He has appeared with many of the world’s leading orchestras, including the London Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. He has performed chamber music with Joshua Bell, Hélčne Grimaud, Steven Isserlis, Steven Kovacevich and other great interpreters.
Born in St. Albans in the United Kingdom in 1989, he moved to the United States in 2000 to study at Indiana University, and subsequently received lessons from Sabine Meyer in Germany. Julian’s prodigious early career included performances at the prestigious Gstaad, Mecklenburg Vorpommern, Rheingau and Verbier festivals, and critically acclaimed debuts at London’s Wigmore Hall and New York’s Lincoln Center. His first album for EMI Classics’ Debut series was greeted by five-star reviews and public praise following its release in 2003.
Julian stands today among the finest musicians of his generation. He launched the Julian Bliss Septet in 2012 at Wigmore Hall and Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London and fronted their debut disc, Benny Goodman –The King of Swing. Julian recently recorded Mozart and Nielsen’s Clarinet Concertos with the Royal Northern Sinfonia. His future plans include the development of a pioneering collaboration with jazz pianist and composer Julian Joseph, cellist Matthew Barley and accordionist Miloš Milivojevic.