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Carey Bell

Carey Bell headshot


Office 528


Courses Taught

Applied lessons


BM, University of Michigan


San Francisco Symphony, Principal, 2007–Present

San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, 2004–2010

San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Principal, 2001–2007


What is your hometown?

Eugene, OR

What are you passionate about outside of music?

Gardening and photography.

Who were your major teachers?

Fred Ormand and Larry Combs (Clarinet); William Bolcom and Bright Sheng (Composition)

What is a favorite quote that you repeatedly tell students?

“If you make a mistake, no one dies.”

What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?

Winning second place in the Oregon State Solo Competition as a high school freshman.

What was a turning point in your career?

Winning the principal clarinet position with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in 2001.

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?


If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Brahms, Stravinsky, and Feldman.

From a music history perspective, what year and city are most important to you?

San Francisco, 2016.

What are your most important collaborations?

Nielsen Concerto with Herbert Blomstedt and San Francisco Symphony; Mozart Quintet for Piano and Winds, K. 452 with Mitsuko Uchida; Schubert Der Hirt auf dem Felsen with Laura Aiken and Michael Tilson Thomas

What is your unrealized project?

Someday I would love to write out the symphony in my head.