Kelli O'Connor, clarinet
Kelli O’Connor is principal clarinet of the Vermont and Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestras. Most recently, she was appointed co-principal clarinet of the Orchestra of Indian Hill. Her performance of Copland’s Clarinet Concerto in 2012 with the Eastern Connecticut Symphony, one of numerous occasions she was a soloist with orchestra, earned her praise in the New London Day as “the star of the evening…playing with the rich timbre and unhurried phrasing that are her trademarks.” Following a 2000 performance of Weber’s first Clarinet Concerto, The Day described her as “an individualistic player with plenty of head and heart...gorgeous tone and liquid line.”
During the 2019 Vermont Symphony Summer Festival Tour, Kelli performed a seven-concert run of the Artie Shaw Clarinet Concerto. In April 2016 Ms. O’Connor performed the West Coast premiere of Oscar Navarro’s “II Concerto” with the Downey Symphony (CA). She appears frequently as acting principal clarinet of the New Haven and Springfield Symphony Orchestras. In addition, Kelli also performs with the Boston Philharmonic and Hartford Symphony. She is a founding member of the Chameleon Arts Ensemble of Boston and Radiance Woodwind Quintet. She has also appeared as a guest artist at the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Festival and at the Hop River Chamber Music series in Andover, CT, and performed the rarely-heard Clarinet Concerto of Charles Stanford at Summer Music at Harkness.
Ms. O’Connor is a former member of the United States Coast Guard Band, where she was often a featured soloist, and had the honor of performing at the Inauguration of President Bill Clinton and with eminent soloists including Placido Domingo, Martha Reeves and Lorrie Morgan. She also previously served as principal clarinet with the Connecticut Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra and Salt Marsh Opera, and was clarinet soloist on the 2004-2005 national tour of Fiddler on the Roof.
As a member of the Radiance Woodwind Quintet, Ms. O’Connor has made appearances on the Newburgh Chamber Music Series, Calvary Music Concert Series, and La Grua Concert Series. Radiance premiered the Sextet for Violin and Winds by Don Wallace in May 2013 in Hartford. During the 2008-2009 season, Ms. O’Connor collaborated with Shmuel Ashkenasi on the Chamber Music at Pease series at Eastern Michigan University.
In addition to her performing career, Ms. O’Connor presently serves on the faculties of Central Connecticut State University and Connecticut College and on the faculty roster for the InterHarmony Music Festival in Italy. She was the founding director of the Waterford High School Clarinet Choir, which under her leadership won many distinctions and was featured on numerous occasions as an honor ensemble at the Connecticut All-State Music Educator’s Convention. She is a former faculty member of the University of Rhode Island, Greater Hartford Academy for the Arts and Calvary Music School. Ms. O’Connor has presented masterclasses and recitals at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Lee University, Baldwin-Wallace University, Northeastern University and Salem State College.
A native of Newburgh, New York, Ms. O’Connor received a Bachelor’s Degree from Baldwin-Wallace University and a Master’s Degree from the New England Conservatory. She was a scholarship recipient and concerto competition winner at both schools. She served as principal clarinet with the prestigious Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra under conductor Jahja Ling, and had the opportunity to work with Leonard Slatkin and Christoph von Dohnanyi. Her principal teachers were Dave Newton, Dr. Alan P. Squire, Tom Martin, and Yehuda Gilad.