Principal, William R. & Gretchen B. Kimball Chair
Carey Bell became SFS Principal Clarinet, occupying the William R. and Gretchen B. Kimball Chair, in September 2007. 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 clarinet with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
As a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, Mr. Bell has performed the clarinet concertos of Mozart and Nielsen as well as Debussy's Première Rapsodie. He joined the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 2016. Summer engagements have included the Marlboro Music Festival, Music@Menlo, the Oregon Bach Festival, and the Telluride Chamber Music Festival.
Mr. Bell received degrees in performance and composition from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he studied with clarinetist Fred Ormand and composers William Bolcom, Bright Sheng, Michael Daugherty, and Evan Chambers. During his time in Michigan he participated in summer fellowships at Tanglewood and the Music Academy of the West. After graduating, he continued his clarinet training at DePaul University with Larry Combs and was a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.
Luis Baez, Associate Principal and E-flat Clarinet of the SFS, joined the Orchestra in 1990. A graduate of the Peabody Conservatory, he began his professional career as principal of the Annapolis Opera Company Orchestra and has been a member of the Florida Orchestra, Santa Fe Opera, and New Mexico Symphony, where he served as principal clarinet for four years. He is a coach for the SFS Youth Orchestra and serves on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
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. He is currently a member of the Coaching Team for the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra.
(Updated August 2012)
Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94102
Mon - Fri: 10am - 6pm
Sun: 2 hours prior to concerts
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