• Born 1950
Often appears with
As a clarinetist and teacher of that instrument, David Shifrin is among the finest. While serving as artistic director of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, he has helped maintain and develop one of his country's most prestigious musical bodies. A passionate servant of new music, he has engaged a series of composers into building a body of healthy supplements to the clarinet repertoire. Shifrin is simply one of those people whose name always seems to pop up whenever and wherever something exciting is happening in the world of American classical music.
Born in New York City in 1950, Shifrin attended that city's High School of Performing Arts and then, from 1965 to 1967, the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. He studied at the Curtis Institute until 1973 and then played clarinet in a succession of high-profile American orchestras, including the Cleveland Orchestra, the American Symphony Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, all the while building an equally high-profile solo career for himself. Beginning in 1981, Shifrin served as artistic director of Portland's Chamber Music Northwest. In 1989, he was invited to join the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and three years later he took up its directorship, a position he held until 2004. Among the prominent American composers from whom he has commissioned scores are John Corigliano, John Adams, Joan Tower, and Stephen Albert.
Shifrin has taught at the University of Michigan (1976-1982), the Cleveland Institute of Music (1974-1976, coincident with the Cleveland Orchestra job), the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, the Juilliard School, and Yale University (1987-). In 2008, Shifrin was named artistic director of the Chamber Music Society of Yale and Yale's Carnegie Hall concert series.
The majority of his recordings have been on the Delos label, including the 2019 release Spring Forward: Music for Clarinet and String Quartet. He has also recorded for EMI, Aleph, and Deutsche Grammophon, among others. He has been nominated for three Grammy awards and won Record of the Year from Stereo Review magazine for his 1985 recording of Mozart clarinet works.
Shifrin's many honors include an Avery Fisher Career Grant (1987), an Avery Fisher Prize (2000), and a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.