Artsbreak Blog

Clarinetist Dallas Tidwell passed away yesterday. He was 64. Tidwell was Associate Professor of Clarinet at the University of Louisville, and played in the Louisville Orchestra as principal and second for 27 years. He was a founding member of the Kentucky Center Chamber Players, an ensemble that performed their final concert in March after more than 30 years of concerts. Tidwell was active as a performer and advocate of new music, working with composers Frederick Speck, Marc Satterwhite, Philip Rhodes, Dan Welcher among others. He has played on recordings through the Centaur, Koch, D’Note, Troy and First Edition Labels.

Tidwell was loved and respected throughout the Louisville music community. Here are some reflections from those who worked with him. If you would like to add yours, please do so in the comments:

“I’ve been so fortunate to have enjoyed such a long friendship with Dallas. When I returned to U of L in the early 90’s wanting to do some accompanying, it didn’t take long before he enticed me into the clarinet studio with all of the wonderful literature waiting to be learned and performed. Throughout these many years, I was always impressed with his knowledge, his attention to detail, his gift for inspiring his students, and most assuredly, his own talent for the clarinet which inspired me as a frequent collaborator with him. But even beyond music, he helped me grow in my knowledge, appreciation, and love for food, automobiles, works of art, house projects, and the list goes on and is practically endless. Words cannot express how much I will miss him, and I am a much better person for having known him. Rest well, my dear friend.” – David George, pianist

“I always looked forward to any LO concert in which we had hired Dallas to play. He was an absolute professional, always the most prepared member of any clarinet section he was in, and always the most fun! He had been fighting this illness for a few years. If he was tired or in pain because of it, he never showed it. I was lucky enough to visit him and his family a few weeks ago, and he seemed to be approaching death in the way he approached life: with an incredible spirit, pride, humility, and a smile. He seemed to be at the top of his game up to the end. I admire him immensely. Without even trying, he taught us all how to be a class act as a musician and individual. I’m so fortunate to have met his amazing family as well, and my thoughts are with them.” – Andrea Levine, principal clarinet, Louisville Orchestra

“I had the pleasure of performing with Dallas in the Louisville Chamber Winds. He was always so kind, always a smile and always willing to help in whatever capacity. This amazing orchestral player would sit all the way in the back of the section and play whatever part was needed, never asked for accolades and just was “one of the clarinetists”. His purpose was to play music and he enjoyed that at all levels of performance. As the page turner for KCCP for a season, I was privy to the rehearsal process of the group. It was a joy to watch him create within this amazing group of players. His attention to detail and his flexibility to meet the demands of all types of music was absolutely impressive. The last moment we shared was just a few weeks after Henry was born. We ran into each other in a restaurant and he and Edie were fussing over the baby. I asked how he was feeling and, as usual, ‘I’m doing pretty well, so far!’ He then asked me how I was doing and if I had started playing so soon after the baby. I said, ‘Yes, started practicing again this week.’ Edie and Kristen were so shocked, considering it had only been a week and a half since the surgery. Dallas looked at me and said “Good for you. We have to always keep the music going.’ So subtle and yet so profound. Thank you, Dallas, for the reminder to continuously fight for the music.’ – Carrie Ravenscraft, clarinetist

“He was always teaching the art of musicianship. Technique, though important, was secondary to phrasing and capturing the composer’s musical intention in the music. He constantly strove to teach his students the art of making music. His ability to foster a competitive yet respectful studio environment is a magic I will never understand. His students were a part of his family.” – Samantha Holman, clarinetist

“I had the privilege of studying with Mr. Tidwell during my time at U of L and learned so much, not just about playing clarinet but about being a better person. He could always be persuaded to take some private lesson time to talk about racing and life and anything and everything. He will forever have a special place in my heart.” – Carolyn Fassio, clarinetist

“Playing clarinet is supposed to be fun, not work. If you are not having fun, you are doing it wrong.” -Dallas Tidwell (via Samantha Holman)

Tidwell last performed on Classical 90.5 on April 9, 2014. Listen to the complete Lunchtime Classics featuring the Kentucky Center Chamber Players

Daniel Gilliam is the weekday afternoon host (1-3pm) on 90.5 WUOL Classical Louisville, and director of radio for Louisville Public Media.