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Clara George: Bio

Clara George is a musician based in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a versatile performer in both classical and popular music genres, Clara has shared a stage with artists as diverse as Itzhak Perlman, Sarah McLachlan, and John Williams. Her work as a classically-trained oboist has been recognized with several awards, and she can be heard on numerous recordings as a vocalist, guitarist, and keyboardist. Clara also runs a highly successful private studio where students can learn a number of instruments including piano, guitar, voice, drums, and oboe/English horn.

Clara’s musical abilities are part of a family tradition. Her mother is a well-known flute pedagogue who co-authored a series of teaching manuals. Her father is a prolific composer and conductor. Clara can trace her musical lineage back even further, to a grandmother who was a concert pianist and great-grandfather who was a square-dance breakdown fiddler. Clara herself displayed musical aptitude at a very early age—she began studying violin at the age of 3 and was writing classical piano pieces before her tenth birthday.

As she grew older, Clara developed this natural affinity for music into a remarkable talent. By age ten, she had begun studying oboe, an instrument that would become her major passion. At thirteen, she was accepted to the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy, and she graduated two years later with a high school diploma in oboe performance. After graduation, Clara entered the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where she studied with the renowned oboist and scholar James Caldwell. Although she was one of the youngest students in his studio, Clara distinguished herself among her peers: she was a sought-after soloist and chamber musician, and she won the competitive Artistry in Oboe Performance Award in her senior year. By the time she graduated at the age of nineteen, Clara was teaching others, both privately and at summer programs like the Interlochen Arts Camp and Idaho State University’s Summer Music Camp.

After graduation from Oberlin, Clara continued her oboe studies at Arizona State University. She also began exploring other venues for musical expression. While a student at Interlochen, Clara had studied vocal performance, and she discovered a new interest in singing and songwriting in both classical and popular genres. In 1997, she formed a band with guitarist Whitney Hanson. As “The Winslets,” they performed at Earth Mother Mind Jam, a music festival featuring original songwriters in Phoenix, AZ. The Winslets soon grew to include three additional members (Laura Sawosko, Dante Fiorenza, and Brandon Frazier) and became Surrender Dorothy, an alternative-influenced band that opened for a number of well-known acts at music festivals throughout the area. In 1999, Surrender Dorothy was chosen to play the Village Stage at the Lilith Fair Music Festival. The band played at local and regional venues into the next decade, but soon its members parted ways to pursue solo projects. Surrender Dorothy reunited in 2009 for the Chicks With Picks Festival in Tempe, AZ, and its members remain active musicians.

After Surrender Dorothy, Clara devoted herself to solo performance and songwriting. “Candlesong,” a piece recorded with Laura Sawosko, appeared in the 2000 film An Intimate Friendship. In 2003, Clara moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to further explore songwriting, culminating in the release of The Fairfax Sessions (2005), a collection of songs with folk, rock, country, and alternative influences released on her own label, Use Your Words Records. In 2007, she released Organic Music for Kids, a collection of children’s songs, including one original song called “Clippety Cloppety Cloo.” Today, Clara remains an active performer. She continues to play in and organize chamber music ensembles throughout the Bay Area, and she uses her extensive network of musical collaborators to organize musical groups for various events. In the studio, she has worked with Steve Eaton, Steve Parrish, Naim Satya, Sunne Souders, Dave Schall, Graham Terry, and Paul Haile.

In addition to performing, Clara has become a highly sought-after teacher for both children and adults. She has developed her own piano, vocal, and guitar methods to help students achieve their musical goals, which can include college/high school admission, creation of demo tapes and musical works, or personal self-fulfillment. Many of her former students can be found at selective programs and institutions throughout the United States: Interlochen Arts Academy, The Bay Academy of San Francisco, Phillips Academy Andover, and Cornish College of the Arts, among others.

In 2010, she founded Musical Enrichment For People With Dementia to sing with patients and their families to experience connections that would have otherwise been lost to these cruel conditions.

In her free time, Clara is an avid baseball fan. She watches the San Francisco Giants play whenever she can, and she enjoys spending time with her family, including her two dogs.