MEET THE SFS MUSICIANS: BASS CLARINET JEROME SIMAS
Articles & Interviews
Jan 1, 0001
Clarinet and Bass Clarinet
Member since 2012
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
The San Francisco Symphony’s Jerome (Jerry) Simas has mastered the standard B-flat/A clarinet, plus the E-flat, contrabass, and the basset horn, a clarinet cousin from days gone by. But his heart belongs to the bass clarinet.
“It’s a very good fit for me. Its tone can be very meditative, with a rich, deep, bass-baritone sound.” He admits “the parts for the instrument run the gamut between gorgeous and soulful to extremely dopey and silly.” But on the plus side, Jerry feels Mahler, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and Stravinsky all have a great feel for the instrument. He’s also pleased that the bass clarinet is coming into its own in contemporary music.
In addition to his Symphony concerts, Jerry is busy as a teacher and mentor. As clarinet coach for the SFS Youth Orchestra, he leads the weekly sectional rehearsal. “I lead them through their parts, and we go over clarinet technique, ensemble skills, reeds, interpretation, tone quality, and intonation. Teamwork is really important for us to focus on too.” Jerry’s work with the YO came naturally. Growing up in Sacramento, he joined the Sacramento Youth Band in fifth grade and later played that city’s Youth Symphony. As a result, Jerry finds coaching the YO truly meaningful. “The students take it very seriously and work very hard. I feel like I’m really helping them with some of my insights and my own experiences over the years.”
“I’m also on the board of a new adult education program in the Bay Area, called the Amateur Music Network (amateurmusic.org). The Network helps people of all walks of life get together and make music in whatever genre they’re drawn to. I’m also active as a coach with adult community music ensembles in various Bay Area cities. Plus, I teach at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and have private students. I’m keeping busy I guess!”
Teaching and the SFS aside, Jerry is the solo clarinetist with the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble. Their concerts feature a mix of contemporary music and more traditional masterworks. “It’s been great, because I’ve gotten to work with great Bay Area composers. Twenty years ago when I was freelancing all over the Bay Area, the group was really grounding for me.”
As a fifth generation Californian, Jerry loves living in the Bay Area. Of course, the best part of life here is playing in the San Francisco Symphony.
“I love the woodwind section of our orchestra, and especially our clarinet section. I think it is a really great team. I just really feel fortunate.”