Allen Habel, clarinet

Allen Habel, clarinet

It should have been French horn (which isn’t really French) but, instead it was clarinet (which might be French, based on the chalumeau, which will not be further explained here and you’ll have to look it up). “Some of my friends were going to play clarinet in third grade. I thought my mom had played clarinet so if played it too, she’d be able to help me,” Alan recalls. Only she had actually played French horn and he got no help. Nonetheless, he played clarinet all while growing up in Chisago (not a typo) City, Minnesota. Population 2,500, near Minneapolis.

As is often the case, all the friends stopped playing their instruments in junior high, but Alan liked it and he was actually quite good at it. His friends urged him to continue, and aren’t friends much more influential than parents anyway? Alan played in the marching band, jazz ensemble, stage band and pit orchestra (often transposing violin parts because there were no strings in Chisago!) all through high school.

It wasn’t until he got to Augsburg College in Minneapolis, with a music and Psychology major, that he started taking private lessons. “One of my stand mates took one look at my clarinet and said, ‘oh my gosh, you’re still playing a Bundy (a plastic clarinet)?!’” Alan immediately bought a wooden clarinet and began taking lessons. “The difference in feel and sound was amazing!”

After graduating, Alan worked at the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis and continued playing in community orchestras and a quintet. “I quit my job one summer to study clarinet intensively at Tanglewood,” he says. “I really enjoyed it but learned I didn’t have the perseverance to be a professional musician.”

Alan came west to get an MBA in Arts Administration at Golden Gate University and has been here ever since, working for various arts and nonprofit groups and eventually on his own as accountant for nonprofits and small businesses. He found Prometheus almost 25 years ago when he played in the San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Band with our oboist, Keith Sklower. “I did have to wait a few years before Prometheus needed a clarinetist, but I have been with the orchestra now for about 23 years. The time has just flown by really.”

~Joyce Vollmer

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