James Moffitt, Associate Principal Clarinet & Bass Clarinet

Question & Answer

How did you choose your instrument?

I had a friend who played the clarinet (he still plays for fun) and always told me that I should play it as well. When my grade school started a band, the directors said I should play either the baritone or the clarinet. Because of my friend’s consistent suggestions, I chose the clarinet.

What is your Favorite Hawaii Symphony moment?

My favorite HSO moment was our first concert back after the bankruptcy. The audience was so supportive of our return and we were excited to be back. It had taken several years of very hard work to get to that moment.

My favorite Honolulu Symphony moment was our first concert with Seiji Ozawa on February 27, 1988. The atmosphere was electric and the orchestra sounded terrific.

Other than performances with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, where can we catch you performing around town?

I have been the clarinetist with Chamber Music Hawaii since 1986. We perform one concert each month from September through May, usually at the Doris Duke Theatre and Paliku Theatre. I also organize my own performances as often as I can.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a musician?

When I was growing up, I wanted to be an astronaut and a baseball announcer. In college, I was a biology/chemistry double major my freshman year and an education major my sophomore year. I’m not sure what I would do now if I was not a musician.

What is your biggest hurdle faced as a musician?

I’ve never felt a lot of widespread respect in Hawaii for what we do. I think that is one reason we earn so little money, which is a major problem in attracting and keeping musicians in the HSO, as well as trying to live in Hawaii.

What are your activities, hobbies, interests, outside of music?

When I was younger, I coached our HSO softball team for many years. Until I developed an ear condition, I was an active swimmer, participating in 6 Waikiki Roughwater Swims. I enjoy hiking and following major league baseball.


James Moffitt (left), with Esther Yoo (center) and John Renke (right) after HSO’s concert with Oahu Choral Society in spring 2015.

More About James Moffitt

James Moffitt has held the position of Associate Principal and Bass Clarinet with the Honolulu Symphony and now, the Hawaii Symphony since 1981, serving many seasons as Acting Principal Clarinet. Clarinetist with Chamber Music Hawaii’s Spring Wind Quintet since 1986, he served as Acting Principal and E-Flat Clarinet with the St. Louis Symphony for two seasons. He has performed, toured and recorded with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Winds. A former member of the Alabama Symphony, he performed with the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra for 10 seasons and has performed with the Colorado Symphony, the Aspen Music Festival, the Britt Festival Orchestra, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and La Jolla Summerfest.