"The oboe is a balance of artistry and craftsmanship."—Spencer Klass.
Spencer Klass grew up in Agoura Hills and began playing the oboe in 6th grade. While in high school, he attended the California State Summer School for the Arts at CalArts, played in the orchestra for the International Haydn Festival in Vienna, Austria, and performed as soloist with his high school orchestra on tour in Seattle, WA. After graduating in 2010, he spent two years studying at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University before transferring to the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University, Long Beach. He is currently pursuing bachelor's degrees in instrumental music education and oboe performance. He aspires to be an influential teacher and to instill a great passion for music in his students.
At the BCCM, Spencer performs with the symphony orchestra, the wind symphony, and the University Wind Quintet. An advocate for new music, he has premiered multiple works. Spencer has performed as principal oboe with the Santa Monica Symphony, Bellflower Symphony, Moorpark Symphony, Chicago's Classical Symphony Orchestra, and the Conejo Valley Youth Orchestra. He has performed as soloist in concertos by Marcello, JS Bach, and CPE Bach. Spencer is currently studying with Jessica Pearlman Fields, principal oboe of the Pacific Symphony. His past teachers include David Weiss, Anne Marie Gabriele, Peggy Michel, and Ted Sugata. Spencer has performed in masterclasses for Bill Bennett, Elaine Douvas, Ariana Ghez, Stuart Horn, Carolyn Hove, Eugene Izotov, Lora Schaefer, Grover Schiltz, and Joe Stone.
Spencer is a proud member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the International Double Reed Society, and the Screen Actors Guild. He has received the Herb Alpert Scholarship for Emerging Young Artists, the John Philip Sousa Award, and the Cole Scholarship. Spencer currently lives in Downtown Long Beach with his girlfriend Morgane and their cat Mushu, and, in his free time, enjoys making huge messes in the kitchen and spending time at Disneyland.
Why did you choose the oboe?
My older brother had played the oboe for one year and quit. I knew from his experience that the oboe was challenging and that it wouldn't be a popular choice for most. I also wanted to sit next to my best friend, so we both chose the oboe.
My teacher said that because I chose the oboe I would always be performing, as the oboe is essential to the every orchestra. The oboe is special because it has an innate ability to cross-accompany every other instrument, and is able to "converse" with every section. When everything lines up it's like the orchestra is on the "same team," similar to a big party filled with musical conversations.
What about it is challenging?
Everything has a learning curve but the curve for the oboe is very steep, and other musicians rely on the oboist getting everything just right. Using the correct muscles is also tough for the young musician; it is difficult to develop and learn. The oboe can also be the easiest instrument to play, providing you never mess up.
When did you begin private lessons?
I began private lessons in the 7th grade and continued through high school. My teacher during that time was Ted Sugata who is now 2nd chair for the Pacific Symphony.
When you warm up are there any particular pieces you use?
My current teacher, Jessica Perlman Fields suggests that when you warm up to always throw in something that you enjoy and know, in order to keep that positive connection to the instrument every time you play it. I use a couple; Strauss' Oboe Concerto and the oboe solo from Bruckner's 5th Symphony.
What kind of music do you prefer to listen to? Classical and then classic rock, including Queen and Michael Jackson. Sometimes I listen to KUSC and KLOS when driving. I especially love Frank Sinatra.
The first orchestra concert in September received great reviews. It is unusual for a university orchestra to play well together on their first performance. Other than the excellent auditioning process, why do you think everyone did so well? It was the music Dr. Müller-Stosch programmed. Like a classical DJ, he selected beautiful works by Mahler, Rachmaninoff, and Ginastera. The program was thoughtful and human. After summer it was something we could all enjoy performing.
Spencer will be auditioning for the upcoming concerto competition next month and his junior recital is Saturday, November 7th, 2015 @ 11am in the Frank Pooler Choral Room. This event is free and open to the public.