Interview with Principal clarinet Arno Stoffelsma
""I knew that after my major I wanted to play chamber music and also in an orchestra, but the clarinet jobs there are sparse. That's why I started studying business economics at the same time, as a backup."'"
- Arno Stoffelsma
The Residentie Orkest is pleased to welcome its new Principal clarinet Arno Stoffelsma. He is young and afflicted with great musicality and an infinite palette of tonal colors. Worth noting: Arno also works as a lawyer. How about that? And how does he combine the two jobs?
Arno, your first official work in our orchestra took place in August under corona conditions. How did you experience that?
"Well, those prescribed one and a half meters, so not even shaking hands... I miss the social aspect a lot. In addition, playing together is more difficult. Normally you sit shoulder to shoulder, you hear each other very well, and you feel the musical flow with all your senses. A lot of information comes in through the corner of your eye. That is much more difficult now, with the one and a half meter distance to the second clarinet on my right, or the first flute two meters in front of me. Nevertheless, even now making music is rather satisfying. Anything is better than not being able to concert at all!"
Do you come from a musical family?
"My mother is a clarinetist, my father an amateur horn player. There was almost always music in our house, first in Groningen, from when I was six in Blaricum. My parents often asked me and my little brother what instrument we wanted to play. My little brother always wanted to play trumpet (and still does). I never knew, and to get rid of it I said: let's do the clarinet. I was seven at the time. My mother taught me for more than four years."
Was the love for the clarinet there right away?
"It was kind of a trade-off. The clarinet suited my physique well, because from the beginning I could play for an hour at a time with ease. That might have been different with, say, a violin. When I played, my mother was always there. She corrected anything that wasn't right, and yes, then it goes fast. After a while I entered "soloist competitions," which are small-scale competitions for amateur musicians. Immediately I won prizes there. That stimulated me to study even more.
After four years, my mother thought it was time for another teacher. That was Herman Braune, who taught at the conservatories of Utrecht and Amsterdam. I was twelve when I was admitted to the Young Talent Class in Amsterdam."
Did you have a clarinet hero?
"No, not really. I didn't listen to music that much either. You are studying and rehearsing all day, and I liked and still like the silence afterwards. Áf I listened, it was mostly to strings. Wind and string players can learn a lot from each other, for example, about phrasing and direction."
You are also a lawyer, how did that come about?
"I knew that after my major I wanted to play chamber music and also in an orchestra, but clarinet jobs are thin on the ground there. That's why I started studying business economics at the same time, as a backup. In 2003, I was 21 at the time, I won the audition for solo clarinet with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, so the music went so well that I stopped studying business economics. In 2010, by then I had been playing in the Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra for three years, I thought: I want to study something else, just for fun. That became law. A month after starting that study I was sitting in the car and heard on the radio that Rutte I had been formed, and that 200 million would be cut on culture. Well, I thought, then that law degree might come in handy!
In 2014, I finished my bachelor's degree. One of the partners of Dirkzwager lawyers in Arnhem had been a board member of the Gelders Orkest. Through him, I soon got a job in the office, as a kind of junior clerk. In 2018, I completed my master's degree. I am now a senior legal officer, with intellectual property, IT law and privacy law in my responsibilities."
How do you combine the two jobs?
"Dirkzwager lawyers accepts my odd working hours. The orchestra comes first, because I can't schedule that myself. When I was in the Arnhem Philharmonic, I went to the office after a morning rehearsal, which was near concertzaal Now that I play with the Residentie Orkest , the travel time from The Hague to Arnhem is very long, so I work from my home in Amsterdam. That is now, with corona, the norm anyway. But basically, if the weather allows and fits into the schedules of the Residentie Orkest , I want to be in the office one or two days a week, also because of the social aspect."
What do you think of the Zuiderstrandtheater?
"From Amsterdam to the theater by public transportation is quite a bit of travel. The location of the theater is of course unique, and the foyers are very nice. Of course the new auditorium, in Amare, will be a big improvement. Also in terms of travel time!"
Ronald Touw (violinist Residentie Orkest)