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An unusually talented and dedicated clarinetist from Brazil has benefitted from a Kent woman's endowed scholarship at Kent State University and, additionally, from the support she and her friends have marshaled.
Tiago Delgado, the clarinetist, recently completed his master's degree in music performance at Kent State University's Hugh A. Glauser School of Music, thanks to a scholarship endowed by Betty Hejma-Sweet to perpetuate the memory of her late first husband, George Hejma.
An executive with AT&T, Hejma, she said, "played the clarinet" so she established a scholarship at the School of Music in his name. (She has also established a scholarship to memorialize her second husband, the late Richard Sweet, a former Record-Courier photographer whose passion in the field was creating photographs of nature.)
Several Kent State students studying the clarinet have benefitted from Hejma-Sweet's generosity, but Delgado is special. Never having studied the clarinet until he turned 15, Delgado, now 29, has won a full-ride scholarship to pursue a doctorate at the University of Toronto. He departs from Kent for the Canadian provincial capital of Ontario in a few days.
He will take with him a new set of clarinets that will enhance his potential. Delgado purchased the set thanks to major financial assistance from Hejma-Sweet and Janet Sessions. The two ladies donated substantially and raised additional money by appealing to others in the community. That plus a favorable trade-in from Woodsy Music and Audio have covered most of the cost of the new instruments. Clarinets for classical music come in pairs, one tuned in the key of A, the other in the key of B-Flat. The set Delgado just purchased cost $10,000.
A native of the greater Belo Horizonte metropolitan area in southern Brazil, Delgado graduated with a bachelor's degree from the Federal University of Minas Gerais. He was discovered there during a master class taught by Professor James Campbell of the renowned Jacobs School of Music at the University of Indiana in Bloomington. The professor arranged for Delgado to come to Bloomington and after a year and a half he had earned a "Professional Certificate" in clarinet.
Tuition for a master's degree was much more than his Indiana scholarship provided. His mentor, Professor Campbell, encouraged him to look at Kent State. Delgado applied at KSU and was granted a graduate assistantship and awarded the George Hejma scholarship. At Kent State, he has studied with Assistant Professor Amitai Vardi, who holds positions with orchestras in Cleveland and has performed with Cleveland Orchestra.
Delgado, whose native tongue is Portuguese, knew almost no English when he arrived in Bloomington, but now speaks it well. At Kent State, he was singled out for the prestigious KSU Orchestra Society's "Leopold Sipe" award, so named for the orchestra's first conductor. He has been a soloist with the KSU Symphony Orchestra and has also performed with small groups and organizations.
Last Sunday, he performed at the United Methodist Church of Kent during its Pentecost service, playing the "Aria" by Eugene Bozza and, during communion, Mozart's "Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K. 622 Adagio." He and two other students recently performed at the Patton House in a concert that Hejma-Sweet and Sessions arranged. Proceeds went to Blossom Friends, an organization that supports the Cleveland Orchestra.
Clarinet chose him
Although Professor Campbell teaches at Indiana University, he is Canadian and connected with the University of Toronto. He helped arrange for an audition at the University of Toronto, which led to Delgado's scholarship. Prior to starting in Toronto, Delgado will attend Domaine Forget, an international music festival and academy in Saint-Irne, Charlevoix in Quebec.
Delgado sometimes remarks he did not choose the clarinet, that it chose him. He got into music as a teenager because he did not know what to do with his life. Music is not taught in the public schools in Brazil, but a friend who played in a community marching band encouraged him to join it. The band's conductor told Delgado the only openings were in the clarinet section so he took up the clarinet buying an inexpensive one with savings.
Music, Delgado said, saved his life by giving him a purpose. After high school, he successfully auditioned for admission to the Federal University of Minas Gerais. Told he needed a better instrument at the university, he lacked the means coming from a single parent family, but a woman named Pompea Brito, who knew his teacher, gave him the money to buy a better clarinet.
Once he has completed his doctorate, Delgado wants to teach. His two goals in life, he said, are to pay back for his good fortune by helping other aspiring young musicians and to excel at mastering the classical literature for the clarinet.
He was 19 years old and at the university before he ever heard classical music for the clarinet. Until then, his exposure had been limited to marching band music.
"The first time I heard classical clarinet music," he said, "I knew that was what I wanted to do. I owe classical music for what it has done for my life"