The Venner Clarinet Choir

"We are a choir of professional clarinetists with an enthusiasm for performance."
Theodore Johnson…Musical Director.  Member of The Cleveland Orchestra (1959- 95), Chicago Symphony, Kansas City Philharmonic, Santa Fe Opera, Kansas City Lyric Opera, Casals Festival Orchestra, Cleveland Ballet, Cleveland Octet, Akron and Canton Symphonies. Faculty (retired) of Cleveland Institute of Music, Akron University, Cleveland State University, Blossom Music School, Kansas City Conservatory, Cleveland Music School Settlement, and Kansas City School System. Maintains a private lesson studio for clarinet. Founder and president of the TJ line of clarinet accessories.
Jim Adkins…Conductor. Thirty-three years of service in the Public Schools of Ohio.  A graduate of Kent State University, Jim’s career began in the early ‘70s as Director of the University Marching Band and Instructor of Percussion. From 1976 through 2003 he developed outstanding Instrumental programs as Director of Bands at Timken High School, Norton High School, and Glen Oak High School.  In 2003 he was appointed Coordinator of Fine Arts for the Plain Local School System and served four additional years in administration. He performed as a member of the Akron Symphony Orchestra and with many bands in the Akron area.  He was co-owner of “Bulbous Nose Productions,” a music and design company that created marching band shows for clients in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Florida.  Jim served for six years as one of the Musical Directors of “Showbands of America,” a company that selected outstanding high school musicians from across the county bringing them together to tour Europe.  He has always been part of innovation and is excited about implementing new ideas.  The New Horizons Band movement is just such an activity. New Horizons Band and String Ensemble of Summit and Stark Counties began in 2003 and, under Jim’s leadership, has grown to over 160 musicians, ages 20 to 92.  These adults enjoy performing in a Concert Band, Jazz Band, Orchestra and String Ensemble.
James Stahl...Sponsor. Graduate of the University of Akron with Bachelor of Music in clarinet performance and Bachelor of Music Education along with Master of Music in clarinet at Cleveland Institute of Music.  While at CIM, Jim studied with famed Cleveland Orchestra Clarinetist Theodore Johnson.  He taught private clarinet lessons for several years before serving as a high school band director in Delaware City Schools.  For a number of years he was active as a performing clarinetist throughout Northeast Ohio including performing in both the Akron and Canton Symphony Orchestras.  In 1979, Jim founded the Central Instrument Company, Inc. and, today, is recognized as one of the leading school music retailers in the area.  He is also the founder and sponsor of the New Horizon Band and String Ensemble of Summit and Stark Counties, a nationwide movement designed to teach older adults to play a musical instrument.  Currently, New Horizons boosts about 170 active members.  Jim also sponsors The Venner Clarinet Choir.  From 1986 to 1989, Jim was a member of the Board for the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) and was recently honored by the Cuyahoga Falls City School Alumni Association as their 2017 “Distinguished Alumni Award.” 
David Ciucevich…clarinetist, operatic tenor, and musicologist. In January 2018, David made his Carnegie Hall debut singing Tenor I with The Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus in Haydn’s The Seasons. He served as Lecturer of Clarinet and Music History at The College of St. Rose (NY) and maintains an active teaching studio. He has played Principal Clarinet with many orchestras including Heights Youth Theatre (OH), Berkshire Opera (MA), Tri-Cities Opera (NY), and as Bass Clarinet of the Berkshire Symphony (MA) and Eb and Bass Clarinet of the Cheyenne Symphony (WY). He has performed as clarinetist with several Broadway touring productions including South Pacific, West Side Story, and The Phantom of the Opera. 
As an operatic tenor, David currently sings with The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and Chamber Chorus, as soloist and section leader at Old Stone Church, and with solo octets at Park Synagogue (Cleveland) and Temple Israel (Akron). He was one of fourteen solo singers worldwide chosen in 2012 to participate in the “Vienna: Language of Lieder” program of German language study and lieder in Vienna, Austria which culminated in a recital performance in the birth home of Franz Schubert. David has appeared as soloist in the Verdi Requiem and the Beethoven Missa Solemnis and has extensive professional chamber choir experience with ensembles in Philadelphia and New York City.   
As a musicologist, David writes program notes and gives education talks for orchestras, has written liner notes for the first complete recorded cycle of the symphonies of the noted African-American composer William Grant Still for Naxos Records , reviewed CDs for the American Record Guide, and has produced and taught many classes including “Beethoven and His Nine Symphonies” and “The Rite of Spring-The Birth of Modern Music”. 
A native of Savannah, GA, David holds a MM with a Double Degree in Clarinet Performance and Music History from the University of Northern Colorado and a BM in Clarinet from Georgia Southern University. His clarinet teachers include legendary Cleveland Orchestra clarinetists Robert Marcellus and Theodore Johnson and their students Mark Nuccio and Bil Jackson. His voice teachers include Claudia Friedlander and Heidi Skok. David’s first cousin is the beloved American lyricist, singer, and composer Johnny Mercer.
Fred Heyburn…graduate of the University of Akron and Kent State University.  Member of Akron and Canton Symphonies, Kent State/Stark Concert Band, Sounds of Sousa Band, and big band Swing Machine.  Teaches privately and repairs woodwinds and saxophones.
Dick Ingersoll…Bachelor of Music from the University of Michigan, William H. Stubbins, teacher
Served in the 5th Army Band, Chicago, and 29th Army Band, Okinawa, Japan.  Masters in Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, Theodore Johnson, teacher.  Professional musician, clarinet and saxophone, for over 40 years, including private teaching.  Performed in many venues and with many groups, including: Cleveland Orchestra, Erie Philharmonic, Blossom Festival Band, Cleveland Winds (recordings with Frederick Fennel), Opus One Chamber Orchestra, Cleveland Opera Alfresco, Venner Clarinet Choir, Satori Wings, Ringling Brothers Circus, Ice Capades, Frankie Avalon, Bobby Vinton, Four Tops, Hal Lynn Orchestra, Harry Hershey Orchestra, Ernie Krivda Fat Tuesday Big Band, TOPS Swing Band, Hermit Club Jazz Orchestra.  Retired heavy equipment mechanic, student of history, tinkerer, homebrewer, husband, father, grandfather.
Victoria Marra…graduate of Baldwin Wallace University, studying in the Conservatory with Dr. Alan Squire then Johannessen International School in Canada.   Performing soloist in Cleveland, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Toronto and premiered with chamber and orchestral compositions by members of the Cleveland Composers Guild and the Guild of Temple Musicians.  Music Director of Symphony West and principal clarinetist of the Cleveland Philharmonic.  Performed with the Blossom Festival Band, including a WGBH television production.  Faculty of The Cleveland Music School Settlement.
Brian Medellin…contrabass clarinet.  Attended the University of Akron School of Music, where he studied clarinet with Kristina Belisle-Jones.  Taught private music lessons and played in local bands.  
Gary Moffet…graduate of The Ohio State University with a BS in Microbiology.  He studied clarinet with Angelo Fortini of Cleveland Ohio.  Has performed with the Venner Clarinet Choir since 2016. 
Dennis Nygren, D.M.…Professor of Clarinet at Kent State University (1983 to 2012), faculty member at Northern Michigan University, and soloist with the North American Air Defense (NORAD) Band.  He was the first clarinetist to earn a Doctor of Music degree in performance from Northwestern University, where he also earned a Bachelor of Music degree; his master of Music degree is from Michigan State University.  Among his teachers are a number of distinguished American performers/teachers including Robert Marcellus (Cleveland Orchestra), Clark Brody, Larry Combs, and Jerome Stowell (Chicago Symphony), and Elsa Ludewig-Verdehr and Keith Stein (Michigan State). Additional sabbatical study was with Stanley Hasty (Eastman School of Music).  Dr. Nygren has performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Akron and Canton Symphonies, the Ohio Chamber Orchestra, Cleveland Ballet, Opera, and Light Opera, has soloed at the Kennedy Center, and performed with Luciano Pavarotti.  He plays yearly with the Blossom Festival Band, and has performed internationally in Canada, Iceland, Greece, and Egypt.  Also a writer and arranger, he has published seven articles in The Clarinet journal and is acknowledged as an expert on the clarinet music of Debussy and Berg, as well as the life and careers of Robert Marcellus, Franklin Cohen, and Theodore Johnson.  His clarinet and wind ensemble arrangement of Victor Babin's Hillandale Waltzes has been performed by the United States Marine and Navy Bands, and recorded by Chicago Symphony clarinetist John Bruce Yeh.  His CD, A Clarinet Collective, is available at Albany Records, Troy 1330, and has received very positive reviews. Composers Frank Wiley, Alan Stout, Mary Ann Griebling, and Halim El-Dabh have composed works for him.
Marc Paige…studied clarinet with Frederic Cohen, Professor of Clarinet at Kent State University and The Cleveland Music Settlement.  He is the principal clarinetist with The Solon Philharmonic Orchestra, and currently performs with a variety of jazz, rock, blues and big band groups throughout Northeast Ohio.
Cindy Pickens… Bb and bass clarinet. Began studying clarinet at the age of nine.  In 1986, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in clarinet from Duquesne University.  During this time, Cindy was the principal clarinetist in the wind ensemble and orchestra.  After Duquesne, Cindy studied with Dr. Dennis Nygren at Kent State University.  During this time, she played extra with the wind ensemble, played in the orchestra, and played with a woodwind quintet.  In 1992, Cindy did a recital and got the pleasure of playing with Amanda Joyce Abbott.  She also performed in two master classes.  Cindy is currently playing in four bands and with a group in Pittsburgh.  She subbed with The WD Packard Band and The North Easterly Woodwind Quintet.  She also studied with Deborah Alexander, Carl Marks Jr., Thomas Thompson, and Clark Brody.
Vicki Smith…earned Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from Bowling Green State University under the tutelage of Mark S. Kelly.  Her focus on instrumental music education led to band teaching positions with the Sandusky City Schools, Massillon City, Highland Local, and Copley-Fairlawn City Schools from which she retired in 2016.  During her public school career she started many beginning instrumentalists including over 600 clarinetists at Copley-Fairlawn alone.  Her individual students and ensembles consistently earned superior ratings at Ohio Music Education Association events. She has served as clarinet clinician at the Ashland University Adult Band Camp and as a woodwind and large ensemble adjudicator for OMEA, Medina County, and Lorain County music festivals.  Professional memberships include American School Band Directors’ Association, Ohio Music Education Association, and Kappa Delta Pi.  In addition to the Venner Clarinet Ensemble, she has performed regularly with the Medina Community Band for 28 years.
Caroline Stilwell…received B.S. in education and a Master of Fine Arts with an emphasis on clarinet, from Kent State University.  Studied with Frederick Cohen, Cleveland Orchestra, and with Horst Hayek, Vienna Philharmonic, while living in Vienna.  Taught 35 years in the public schools, mostly in Wayne County, Ohio.  Taught both instrumental and general music and completed levels in both Kodaly and Orff methodology.  Taught English in the Teaching English in Poland program 1998 and 2003 sponsored by the Kociuszko Foundation and Polish National Commission for Unesco.  Awarded  Fulbright Memorial Fellow by the Japanese government in 2000.  Performed as soloist with area high school and the Wadsworth Community Band.  Performed 10 years with a chamber music group, 2 Plus 1, performing literature for 2 clarinets and piano.  Performs in the Wadsworth Community Band and various performances with small groups and ensembles in the Wadsworth area.  Currently, instructor of clarinet and hospice volunteer for the Music and Memory Program of Ohio Living.
Craig Wohlschlager…applied music and accompanying faculties of Malone University, Canton, OH.  Teaches and is the auditions coordinator for Sessione Senese per la Musica et l'Arte; a summer festival for chamber orchestra and opera studies in Siena, Italy.  Maintains a private studio of students. Performed with the Cleveland Orchestra's Symphonic Winds and Blossom Band, Ashtabula Pops Orchestra, and Trinity Chamber Orchestra.  Recitalist for Tuesday Musical Club of Akron, MacDowell Club of Canton, Jefferson Arts Council series, and numerous faculty artist recitals at Malone University. Performs at Porthouse Theatre and KSU main campus for musical theatre productions.  Founding member of 3Squared, a trio of musicians dedicated to performing works for multiple and unique instrumentation.