Clarinetist Andrew Keller wins coveted Sudler Prize
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Andrew Keller of Hagerstown, IN, bested senior candidates from Purdue University’s various visual and performing arts departments and organizations to win the Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts. It marks the fifth time in six years a representative of Purdue Bands & Orchestra has won the honor as Purdue’s top senior in the arts.
Keller, a clarinet player in two of the department’s top ensembles – the Purdue Symphonic Band and Purdue Symphony Orchestra – performed Mozart’s “Concerto for A Clarinet” and gave a presentation offering insights into the construction and history of the piece, the last one written before the composer’s untimely death at the age of 35.
It was enough to make Keller a unanimous selection for the Sudler Prize which comes with a cash award of $1,000.
“Andrew is a very refined performer,” says Jay S. Gephart, department head and director of the Symphonic Band. “His technique is effortless and his interpretation of a variety of styles demonstrates his maturity as a musician.” At the Purdue Bands Showcase concert on April 18, he’ll perform “Fantasia for Soprano Saxophone” by H. Villa-Lobos on clarinet with the Purdue Symphony Orchestra.
A double major in management and computer science, Keller became an expert in time management at Purdue to squeeze in his love for music. “It’s my fun activity and kind of a stress relief,” says Keller whose course load has always topped 20 hours, about five or six more hours than the average Purdue student. Following graduation in May, he’ll work with Acquity Group in Chicago, a technology consulting firm.
Performing, in one way or another, has colored his entire life. The clarinet Keller picked up in the fifth grade became a life long friend, involving him in all kinds of music in high school including All-State Honor Band. He also served as drum major for his Hagerstown High School marching band.
Keller’s vocal talents provided a brief flirtation with TV stardom as an elementary student. Selected from a state-wide casting call, he appeared in the “Adventures of Elmer & Friends” filmed at Ball State University and aired on PBS. “It was singing, dancing and cheesy jokes,” he recalls and led to a short voice recording contract with Warner Brothers.
When it came to making a college choice, music definitely asserted its influence. “I liked the smaller classes at Rose-Hulman but there was no music. Purdue was where I wanted to be,” he says.
Despite his demanding class load, and co-ops with IBM that took him away from campus, Keller always cleared his schedule to perform with the Symphonic Band and the Symphony Orchestra, as well as the newly formed Griffin Sinfonia. He also took take private lessons. Not satisfied with being an average player, Keller encouraged his clarinet instructor to pile on harder pieces and loved the results.
“Only in the last year or so has playing the clarinet gotten to be as much fun as it is now,” Keller says. “It’s so neat playing good music when you can do it really well.”
Already poking around for opportunities to play in Chicago, Keller says winning the Sudler fuels his desire to keep music in his life. “For anyone who has a hobby that they’re really passionate about, there’s no better feeling than to have someone recognize your accomplishments,” he says.
“It just makes you want to keep doing it. This is absolutely a stepping stone.”
Recent Sudler winners from Purdue Bands & Orchestra:
Monica Boothe, 2003, marimba
Sven Schreiber, 2004, bassoon
Matt Janszen, 2005, piano
Matt Iles, 2007, saxophone
Andrew Keller, 2008, clarinet
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