Feature Friday – YaoGuang Zhai

YaoGuang Zhai, clarinet

***Seasons with BSO: 7

***Hometown: Tai Yuan, Shan Xi, China

***Age Started: I started the violin when I was 3 years old, and switched to the clarinet when I was 10.

***Favorite Baltimore Restaurant: Miss Shirley’s

***BSO Audition Memory: I had the incredible opportunity to play in a trial week with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, during which we performed Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. This coincided with the BSO’s 100th anniversary celebrations, and we were fortunate enough to perform not only at the Meyerhoff and Strathmore concert halls, but also at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

***Concert Most Excited About: I’m eagerly looking forward to performing Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto next season and to spending many weeks working with our new music director, Jonathon Heyward.

***Favorite Composers: There are so many favorite composers to choose from, it’s difficult to pick just one or two.

***Best Hobbies: My hobbies include spending time with my family – my wife Shirley, and my two sons, Joseph and Daniel.

***Fondest Musical Memory: I have many wonderful musical memories, one of them is performing with the BSO at the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London, UK for over five thousand people.

***Most Embarrassing Moment Onstage: I was working on my reeds at home and in the rush to get to rehearsal, I forgot to bring them with me. Luckily, my colleague Vitor Trindade kindly loaned me a reed for that rehearsal. Although I’m relieved that the mistake went unnoticed by most of my colleagues, I’m still grateful for Vitor’s help.

***Exciting Moments this Summer: I will be performing the Weber Clarinet Concerto at the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival in South Africa this July. I am greatly looking forward to this opportunity and am especially thrilled as this will be my first time visiting Africa.

***Sports: I love to watch basketball, and I have been following the NBA for over 20 years.