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Cleveland Orchestra Announces Afendi Yusuf as Principal Clarinet beginning with upcoming 2017-18 Season

Afendi Yusuf, Photo Credit: Elena Sippel

For release August 10, 2017

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Orchestra and Music Director Franz Welser-Möst have announced that Afendi Yusuf will join the Orchestra as principal clarinet beginning with the start of the coming Severance Hall season in September 2017. The upcoming 2017-18 season is the Orchestra’s 100th year of concerts and marks the beginning of the ensemble’s Second Century. The opening week of the concerts (September 23, 24 and 26, 2017) features encore performances of the Orchestra’s innovative and critically acclaimed opera production of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen, first presented in 2014. Mr. Yusuf will sit in The Cleveland Orchestra’s Robert Marcellus Principal Clarinet Endowed Chair. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Principal Clarinet Franklin Cohen, who served in the position for 39 years, the longest-serving principal clarinetist in the history of The Cleveland Orchestra. Mr. Cohen now holds the honorary title of Principal Emeritus.

“It is an honor and privilege to join The Cleveland Orchestra,” said Afendi Yusuf. “As my first appointment, I cannot imagine a better environment for my personal and artistic growth. I am humbled by the Orchestra's rich history and the profound influence of my predecessors, and I’m eager to collaborate with my future colleagues, who have been equally warm-hearted and inspiring. I am grateful for the support of my family and peers, and fortunate to receive the guidance of tremendously dedicated mentors over the years, including Yehuda Gilad, Joaquin Valdepeñas, and Ross Edwards."

About Afendi Yusuf
Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, clarinetist Afendi Yusuf has appeared as guest principal with a number of North American ensembles, including the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Canadian Opera Company, and the Toronto and Cincinnati symphony orchestras. As a guest musician, he has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, under the batons of Gustavo Dudamel, Edo de Waart, Gianandrea Noseda, and Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Yehuda Gilad. A winner of many concerto competitions, Mr. Yusuf has made solo appearances with the Colburn Orchestra, the Royal Conservatory Orchestra, and the Guelph Symphony Orchestra, among others. He has collaborated with Charles Neidich, Ronald Leonard, Martin Beaver, and with renowned composers Georg Friedrich Haas, John Adams, and Anders Hillborg. He is an alumnus of the Aspen Music Festival and School, Brott Music Festival, the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, and the National Arts Centre’s Young Artists Program. Since the summer of 2016, he has been a participant of the Marlboro Music Festival.

Mr. Yusuf holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, as a student of Ross Edwards, and an Artist Diploma from the Glenn Gould School in Toronto, Ontario, as a student of Joaquin Valdepeñas. He also holds a Master of Music degree and Professional Studies Certificate from the Colburn School’s Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, California, where he was a student of Yehuda Gilad.

Media contacts:
Justin Holden, (216) 231-7476
Rebecca Calkin,, (216) 231- 7637