Don Baird - Biography


Don began playing clarinet a bit over 60 years ago. The roads have twisted and turned but he plays and performs today, enjoying it as much as ever.

A few of Don's past performing credits include: Stockton Symphony, principal clarinetist; Stockton Chamber Orchestra - principal; La Jolla Symphony, principal; Burbank Symphony - assistant principal/principal. He was also a featured soloist at the American Composer's Convention and a winner of the University of the Pacific Woodwind competition. Other awards include Bank of America and the national Pi Kappa Lambda outstanding musician awards. Recently, he was a featured soloist for the Orchestra Unleashed and Elements Chamber Music, directed by Gustav Hoyer.

His trademarks are his rich tone and striking use of dynamics as mentioned by Mehli and Zubin Mehta both. Mitchell Lurie said, "Don is capable to sit principal clarinet in any major symphony in the country". Dennis McCarthy (Star Trek, Private Benjamin, McIvor etc) mentioned he "had never really appreciated the clarinet until hearing Don". The following week Dennis had Don contracted to solo in Private Benjamin with many others to follow.

Don continued playing recording sessions at various Burbank studios for several years (Warner Bros., Disney, etc). He recorded for Private Benjamin (T.V. Series), Apple Dumpling Gang, Goodnight Bean Town, Gary Coleman T.V. Movies, and many more. He continued until he broke his right hand of which derailed his playing for almost 8 years. When he returned to playing, he home-recorded his cd "Wandering Clarinet." The cd is a collection of ad-libbed meditations.

Today, Don occasionally performs, records, and composes. He also focuses on teaching advanced students and giving master's classes on various topics from tone development to dynamic performance practices. He remains invigorating and engaging which clearly radiates from him during his presentations, lessons and performances.

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Sub-notes:
*Don's primary clarinet teachers/mentors were Dan Magnusson (San Diego Symphony), Samuel Scott (San Francisco Opera) and Mitchell Lurie. He also studied breathing and phrasing with a tenor opera singer.

**His conducting teacher was Mehli Mehta.

***Don has a B.A. from UCLA in Music Performance.

PHOTO BELOW (from left): Gail Acosta (violin), Sara Andon (flute), Don Baird (clarinet), Josh Heaphey (Viola) and AJ Fanning (cello). In blue dress is Shelly Ren (violin).