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10 Questions with clarinetist Max Opferkuch

Max Opferkuch is principal clarinetist for the Mainly Mozart Youth Orchestra.
Max Opferkuch is principal clarinetist for the Mainly Mozart Youth Orchestra.

10 Questions is an Encinitas Advocate feature spotlighting interesting people in the community.

Avid musician Max Opferkuch, 17, is the principal clarinetist with the Mainly Mozart Youth Orchestra and the San Dieguito Academy Wind Ensemble. A high school senior at San Dieguito Academy, he wasas born in San Diego, and have lived in Encinitas nearly his whole life.

“My father is a local jazz musician, so I grew up hearing lots of music in my home,” said Max. “I started music on the piano at the age of 5, and took up violin at the age of 10 and clarinet at the age of 12. I’ve stuck with the violin for seven years now, and the clarinet for five, and clarinet has become my primary instrument.”

He’s also performed with the San Dieguito Union High School District honor band, the Coastal Communities Concert Band honor band, the California Band Directors Association All-State bands, the binational Youth Orchestra of the Californias, and in side-by-side performances with the San Diego Symphony and the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra. He won the Grand Prize in the 2015 San Diego Clarinet Society Young Artist’s clarinet competition and the 2015 Coastal Communities Concert Band Don Caneva Memorial Scholarship.

Max hopes to continue to study music in college, as well as exploring other areas of interest, such as the natural sciences, and discovering new ones. “Whatever field I go into, whether or not I ultimately become a professional musician, I plan to continue playing music for the rest of my life,” said Max.

What brought you to Encinitas?

My parents. My family moved to Encinitas when I was less than a year old, and I’ve been living here ever since.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in Encinitas?

Not that these things don’t already exist, but I’d love to see more arts outlets, and more opportunities for high school students to get out there and involved in the community.

Who or what inspires you?

Listening to a live performance or recording of a great orchestra, chamber ensemble, or soloist is really inspiring, as is studying with a great teacher. I’ve had the opportunity to attend performances of orchestras like the London Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the San Diego Symphony, and the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra, and each time, I walk out with a newfound appreciation for and ideas about music.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, who (living or deceased) would you invite?

That’s a tricky list to narrow down. If I wanted some musical insight: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Stravinsky, Daniel Bonade, Anthony McGill.

What are your favorite movies?

A couple of my favorites have been “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

What’s the most challenging aspect of what you do, and what’s the most rewarding?

Music is always providing some sort of challenge for me, whether it’s learning a new piece, working on my technique, sound, and phrasing, or simply finding time to juggle music and school work. But any challenges I’m presented are well worth the great music I get to play and the people I’ve met playing it.

What do you do for fun?

In case you hadn’t already guessed, I do a lot of music and music-related activities for fun. I also enjoy spending time with my family and getting together with my friends.

What is it that you most dislike?

Being sick, especially when I’m busy.

What do you hope to accomplish next?

First and foremost, I’m working on getting my college applications and music prescreening tapes out the door. Beyond that, I hope to do well in my college auditions and in the rest of my senior year and get into a school where I can have a great educational, musical, and personal experience.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

Beethoven said, “To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.” I think that’s applicable both to music and to our lives.


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