How does one make a clarinet sound like an electric guitar? This was the question that Gloria Orozco, Doctorate of Musical Arts candidate, had to answer when she stood center-stage, flanked by a symphony orchestra, and played Scott McAllister’s classical reimagining of Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog.” But before we find out how Orozco’s performance went, let’s rewind a little and discover how her journey to this solo started.
Orozco grew up in Caloto Cauca, Colombia, where at age seven she was invited to choose an instrument to play in the town’s band.
“I eagerly told the teacher that I wanted to play the saxophone,” recalls Orozco, “but he soon made me realize that all of my friends in line ahead of me had also chosen the saxophone. Eventually, I agreed to play the clarinet, and I’m so glad that I did, because it has become a huge part of my life and has opened up so many opportunities for me.”
Clarinet took Orozco to Southern Illinois University to complete two master’s degrees in Clarinet Performance and Music Theory & Composition. After she graduated from SIU, Orozco took stock of the different schools with DMA programs and met with a number of clarinet professors. That’s how she met Dr. Jackie Glazier, Assistant Professor of Clarinet at the University of Arizona School of Music.
“In the class I had with Dr. Glazier,” remembers Orozco, “I found out that she was not only a great musician and professional, but also a very warm and dear professor who cared for her students. Dr. Glazier is exceptional at organizing, planning, and other extra-musical things. She talked to me about expanding my experiences to improve my curriculum, and she nominated me for the University Fellows program. When I found out I was accepted into the University Fellows program, I had no doubt that I wanted to come here to UArizona. It was a great decision!”
Orozco’s academic focus is on clarinet performance, with a minor in electroacoustic music and sound production. Her interest in combining musical styles is the reason Gloria chose to perform Scott McAllister’s “Black Dog.”
“This involved using my throat to produce different pitches,” explains Orozco, “while also playing a sustained note with vibrato and trilling it with a resonant trill key, resulting in a somewhat distorted sound.
“Playing with the orchestra was a fantastic experience,” says Orozco. “The musicians were supportive, and the audience was enthusiastic and generous with their kind comments after each performance. Performing with the orchestra was a reminder of how hard I have worked over the past ten years, constantly refining my technique, sound, musicality, tuning, and fundamentals. It showed me that all the time and effort spent in practice rooms, lessons, rehearsals, and conversations with colleagues and friends were well worth it. I’m grateful for the opportunity to perform such an exciting piece and to see the payoff of my hard work and dedication to performing.”
This story originally appeared on the Graduate Center website on March 21, 2023. Republished with permission.