The Crumpler name is usually heard gracing the ESPN sports channels, Sports Illustrated Magazine, and the globules of Fantasy Football and NFL fan forums blogging about big butts. Yes, the All-Star Crumpler’s have big butts (despite that most of of them literally have made careers as “tight ends”), and the case is no different for 30-yr old, all-star clarinetist Bryan A. Crumpler, the youngest of a family of NFL football stars.
Having never been good at facing 300-lbs human bulldozers (and always tossing Spaldings over backboards), Bryan took to a less barbaric playing field, the concert stage, where he has been maturing and sharing his gift of “clarinetistry” for nearly two decades.
Music was not entirely strange to the fam however. Bryan’s great aunt Carlena “Flora” Williams was a longstanding vocalist who, for years, racked up her most legendary performing, recording and touring credits with icons like Pink Floyd, Ike & Tina Turner, Humble Pie, Donna Summer, Etta James, & Van Morrison. Other influences were his mother Gertha, a flutist, and his brothers Carlester and Alge, who were mere hobbyists on the trombone and saxophone. Bryan’s musical talents on the clarinet earned him his debut as a concert soloist, however, with the Wilmington Symphony at age 15, just 2.5 years after beginning the instrument. He had won the symphony’s concerto competition at age 14 after learning Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto by ear from a $4.00 cassette tape that his mother bought for him at a local gas station. He had never seen the score.
Now, having studied with master clarinetists throughout the world and having won prizes in a myriad of international young artist competitions, he has built a performance career spanning 4 continents and nearly 100 major venues spanning the USA, Europe, South Africa, and China. He has performed for Kings & Queens, Chancellors, Embassy representatives, Katrina survivors; and has collaborated with musicians from the Bamberger Symfoniker, Ciurlionis String Quartet, Flemish Radio Orchestra, North Carolina and Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestras among others. He composes, improvises, teaches, records, and is an entrepreneur. Most notably, he is a Morehead-Cain.
Concertmaster Liviu Prunaru of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and master pianist/conductor/composer Alexandre Rabinovitch-Barakovsky have praised him for his enthusiastic performances. From his 2008 solo tour in South Africa, he was lauded as “an Itzhak Perlman, Wynton Marsalis, Yo- Yo Ma equivalent”, with aspects of his cantabile style as a holy-like, near-death experience… being “the closest one can get to God without dying”. Celebrated jazz great Branford Marsalis put it simply: “He’s a real musician.”
In 2006 he became a laureate of the World Federation of International Music Competitions, having placed third in the 14th Dos Hermanas International Clarinet Competition in Sevilla, Spain. He is the first and only black clarinetist in the world to have become a WFIMC laureate as a soloist and is the only American clarinetist in nearly 30 years to have done so.
Crumpler’s teachers have been Professor Donald Oehler & Dr. Michael Votta of UNC Chapel Hill under which time he studied independently and in masterclass with distinguished artists Andrew Marriner (LSO), Freddy Arteel (Cours Internationale de Musique), & David Campbell (Canterbury Christ Church College of London). In the 2004-05 season, he received a fellowship from the Ministry of the Flemish Community to do an artist residency & graduate studies under the tutelage of Eddy Vanoosthuyse, Principal of the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra, at the Royal Conservatory of Ghent. Crumpler has also been coached by Jimmy Gilmore (principal of the North Carolina Symphony), Todd Palmer (internationally renown YCA artist), Dr. Nathan Williams (Interlochen/former Professor of Clarinet, East Carolina Univ.), Dr. Ray McClellan (UMSC President’s Own & Univ. of Georgia), & Dr. Kelly Burke (Professor of Clarinet, UNC-Greensboro).
Bryan’s website is www.whosthatguy.com.