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A life full of music, a bag full of reeds

8:45:03 AM CDT - Thursday, March 11, 2004

By Shannon Littlejohn

JPEG Image (250x166)
Courtesy photo

The last original member of WSU's
Lieurance Woodwind Quintet, clarinetist Jim
Jones, far right, will play his final concert
with the group March 16. Other members
of the faculty quintet are left to right,
Nicolasa Kuster, Amy Goeser Kolb, Fran
Shelley, and Nicholas Smith.
Catching up with Jim Jones isn't always easy. The full-time professor of clarinet for WSU also works another job as principal clarinet for the Wichita Symphony, and performs as one-fifth of the Lieurance Woodwind Quintet. But a recent rainy day caught him in his office, clearing out desk drawers and reminiscing about his 35-year teaching career at WSU.

Jones is retiring from WSU at the end of the spring semester; he'll play his last concert with the Lieurance Woodwind Quintet on March 16.

"I keep finding bags of reeds," says Jones, who admits he never could stand to throw away a used reed. In fact, he's been saving them since he was in elementary school, he says.

He still can't stand to throw them away, so every clarinet student who happens by will probably get a bag full, he says. Although he buys a lot of new reeds, he has learned and can show others how to readjust an old reed to get a little more use out of it.

The reeds were found among the sheet music, merit awards and student rolls he has accumulated since 1969, when he arrived in Wichita to teach at WSU and play in the symphony. He had already been teaching at universities for about five years.

Jones is one of the original members of the Lieurance Woodwind Quintet, says colleague Fran Shelley, professor of flute for WSU and another quintet member.
"He was one of the ones responsible for naming the quintet," she says. "He's actually the last member of the original quintet to leave."

"We were just called the Faculty Quintet in '69," says Jones. He credits his wife, Gay, who also played in the quintet at the time, with suggesting that "Lieurance" be included in the name.

Thurlow Lieurance had been the first dean of the fine arts college. A historian of American Indian music, Lieurance left his collection of Indian flutes to the school, Jones said, adding, "and Lieurance is an interesting name."

Among the highlights of Jones' career are the recitals in Washington, D.C., as part of the quintet and another group, the Wiedemann Trio.

JPEG Image (200x292)
Inside WSU

Jim Jones, professor of clarinet,
demonstrates finger placement to
middle and high school students
during WSU's recent Clarinet Day.
Jones is retiring from WSU after a
35-year career.
"We played the Phillips Collection there," says Jones, recalling its intimate setting complete with fireplace. "And we played at the Library of Congress. Our representatives at the time (U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum and U.S. Rep. Dan Glickman) came to that one."

 The Phillips and Library of Congress recitals were reviewed by The Washington Post, he says.

Then there was the trip to Europe, sponsored by Rie Bloomfield.

"We had a German guide," says Jones, "and toured Germany, Austria and Switzerland. We played for wonderful audiences everywhere."

The construction of Wiedemann Hall is one of his favorite memories, too, because it had been frustrating not to have a better facility for recitals, he says.

Many other accomplishments mark his career. Jones is the founder of the Wichita Clarinet Society, American Music Activities, the school's biannual music sale, the Harvey Music Festival in Newton, and is a founding member of the Mid America Artist Showcase. He has performed with symphonies from coast to coast, and has published numerous articles, reviews and CDs. He has also worked extensively with high school musicians.

Life has been good at WSU, Jones says, but he's ready to go although he'll stay involved with local chamber music recitals and other events.

"Two jobs have kept me very busy," he says, "and I feel it's time."

Time to travel, time to spend with six grandchildren between Houston and Seattle, time to play.

And time to have just one job. Jones will continue as principal clarinet for the Wichita Symphony.

"How can you argue with playing the Mozart Requiem," he asks.



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