August 2005 Convention
San Diego, CA

A Tribute to Clement Barone

Thursday, August 11

Friends, former students, and colleagues gathered to pay tribute to the legendary Clement Barone, the piccolo player for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra from 1958 to 1991, who died in August 2004. Many beautiful pieces were played throughout this tribute, including the Minuet and

Dance of the Blessed Spirits by Gluck, theVinci Sonata in D Major, and the Sarabande from the J.S. Bach Partita. But it was the words of those to whom he meant so much that made the afternoon special.

Hubert Laws was among many who spoke in tribute to Clem Barone.

Hubert Laws was among many who spoke in tribute to Clem Barone.

The program opened with an audio-visual slide show of Barone—“Clem,” as he was known by many—presented by his former student and predecessor in Detroit, Jeffery Zook. He spoke about how he often listens to the recordings of Barone playing in the orchestra in the car on his way to his own concerts with the DSO, in hopes that he will live up to the spellbinding sound of his teacher. He also said that he can remember and savors every word from his lessons, and continues to put them to practice today. Rena Urso-Trapani, whose father, Santo Urso, was a colleague of Barone’s, detailed how the two families spent a lot of time together. Most of the time, her three-hour lessons from Barone were for free, and “this was often the case for all students who got a never-ending dose of Clem-wisdom.” Marianne Gedigian also studied with Barone in high school. She remembered that “Mr. Barone was genuinely happy to see his students every week.” Her voice breaking, Gedigian thanked Mrs. Barone, who was also in attendance, for warmly welcoming them into her home and for the sacrifices that she must have made so that her husband could be a mentor to so many young flutists. At this point in the tribute, I, too, became very emotional. Marianne Gedigian was my teacher in high school. Though I never got to meet Clem, I knew that my life had been deeply affected by his greatness, through her reflection of his generosity and strength of character.

Barbara Ogar, who led the flute choir performances for the event, read letters from those who could not be there, and spoke about Barone’s thoughts on teaching: “One learns from teaching…being compassionate, helping students as friends, making them feel at ease, even if they have problems.” Barone would encourage students to “play with destination, direction…give your best, respect the audience, the music and the people you are playing with.” Hubert Laws, legendary jazz flutist, who studied with Clem as a teen in Houston, said that if it were not for Barone, he wouldn’t have gone on to study at the Juilliard School and to play in the New York Philharmonic. Former colleagues from the Detroit Symphony, Ervin Monroe and Shaul Ben-Meir, noted that Clem, though a consummate professional, was also quite the jokester as well.

If there was one word that summed up the teachings of Clem Barone, it was for sure “sing!” Tamara Thweatt, Emily Skala, Laura Larson, Emily Butterfield, Kathryn Thomas Umble, and Collen Riley Hermann said Barone always wanted them to “sing” through their instruments, making the most beautiful sound they could at all times. Thank you to Rena-Urso Trapani for coordinating this event, and to all who shared their memories, so that we would indeed feel that we experienced the extraordinary life of Clement Barone.

—Nicole Esposito