For Katriel Looney, reeds are the biggest problem with playing the clarinet. She struggles constantly to find good ones and maintain a decent supply.
“Brass players have no idea,” she said.
Recently, she found enough good reeds to audition with Puyallup Valley Community Band and win the 2016 Lovezzola Music Award. Originally called the Outstanding High School Soloist Award, the band renamed the scholarship after the local doctor when he passed away in 2012. Dr. Mike Lovezzola was a founding member of the Puyallup Valley band and played clarinet with the group for 22 years.
Looney is the first clarinet player to win the award since Lovezzola left the bequest to help fund it.
Looney’s private teacher, Stan Purvis, knew she was going places when he first met her in her seventh-grade year.
“I don’t think I’ve ever told her anything she hasn’t remembered,” he said.
He praised her innate sense of tone, ability to project, and knowledge of phrasing.
Looney isn’t a newcomer to the Puyallup Valley Community Band. She’s been rehearsing and performing with them since she was 14 and the youngest member of the all-ages group.
Now 18 years old, the Puyallup High School senior practices an hour a day after her chemistry class at Pierce Community College, where she is also a Running Start student. Not short on ambition or talent, she is considering a double major in molecular biology or bioengineering along with music performance.
For the Lovezzola audition, she played a sonata by Francis Poulenc that won her a college scholarship to the University of Washington and a superior rating in the Valley Regional Solo Ensemble Contest.
Purvis said he knew she needed to challenge herself with a more athletic and aggressive concerto by Carl Maria von Weber to expand her abilities even though it was not the more lyrical style she often favors.
His encouragement and her years of hard work paid off while Lovezzola would surely be pleased she found the right reed.
You can hear Looney perform Weber’s “Clarinet Concerto” in a concert with the band at 7:30 p.m. May 20 at First Christian Church of Puyallup, 623 9th Avenue S.W.
Admission is free.