Principal, William R. & Gretchen B. Kimball Chair
Carey Bell became SFS Principal Clarinet and occupant of the William R. and Gretchen B. Kimball Chair in September 2007. A former member of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, he has held principal positions with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and the Syracuse Symphony, and he has served as acting principal clarinet of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, and as guest principal clarinetist with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Mr. Bell received degrees in performance and composition from the University of Michigan.
Member since 1986
Hometown: King of Prussia, PA
On being in the Orchestra:
The best thing for me is being able to express myself on my instrument—playing a beautiful line, or playing something that communicates a lot of emotion. Some of my greatest memories in the Orchestra have been outside of music-making, just sharing life experiences with colleagues. We’ve had some wonderful moments on tour, bicycling around Lake Lucerne into the Swiss mountains.
Other career paths:
I started a video communications business in 1998, and now I lead a double life as an orchestral musician and a full-time business owner. It is enormously challenging to switch gears from one to the other, but I find that it helps me to remember how much fun it is to play music. Playing in the Orchestra is my passion and what really counts in my life.
The fantasy aspect of Berlioz’s work is really cool for me. Symphonie fantastique paints a wonderful picture, and there are a couple of his vocal pieces that are very beautiful as well.
In your CD player:
I like listening to some of the old recordings of the Nielsen symphonies we did with Herbert Blomstedt, and to the Mahler recordings with MTT. I like to hear where we came from and where we’re going, and then to extrapolate down the curve.
Jerome Simas was appointed bass/utility clarinetist with the San Francisco Symphony in 2012. He has appeared as a guest clarinetist with orchestras across the U.S., including the Cleveland Orchestra and the San Francisco Opera (acting principal clarinet). He was a fellow at the New World Symphony under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas (with whom he recorded Rhapsody in Blue and Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto for BMG Classics and RCA) and has held principal clarinet positions with the IRIS Orchestra, California Symphony, Oakland East Bay Symphony, Modesto Symphony, Monterey Symphony, and Akron Symphony. As a chamber musician, he studied and performed at Marlboro Music in Vermont and also represented the New World Symphony in chamber music concerts in Europe and the U.S. He is currently a member of the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble in San Francisco and the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra in Western New York State during summertime. He won first prize at the International Clarinet Society’s Young Artist’s Competition, Grand Prize at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, and first prize at the Yellow Springs National Chamber Music Competition. He has appeared as soloist with the California Symphony, New World Symphony, Monterey Symphony, Modesto Symphony, Iris Chamber Orchestra, and the Cleveland Institute of Music Symphony, where he received his BM and MM degrees as a student of Cleveland Orchestra principal clarinetist Franklin Cohen. As a music educator, he works with youth orchestras throughout the region and has taught clarinet at UC Davis, Stanford University, San Francisco Conservatory, and most recently at the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance as Assistant Professor of Clarinet.
Jerome Simas has served as a Symphony mentor in the SF Symphony Community of Music Makers program.
(Updated August 2012)