Greetings. It's not often that we have the chance to hear someone considered to be the very best at what they do. Someone who has, through years of dedication, practice, skill, and passion developed their craft to the highest level imaginable. So when a small notice in Friday's "Weekend" section of the Washington Post announced that Julian Milkis would be performing in town, my wife Lisa and I jumped at the chance to hear him--especially at a small venue.
If you're not familiar with Julian Milkis you're not alone. After all, the clarinet is probably not the most popular instrument in an orchestra, jazz band, or chamber ensemble. In fact, we had not heard of him either before this past week when we learned that he had been the only student of the legendary big band leader Benny Goodman, that he was a rare musician who was equally renowned as a classical and jazz artist, and that he had been called "simply the best clarinetist in the world." And within moments it was clear to us and the rest of the audience that he had somehow magically taken this instrument to another level. That he could interpret, create, combine, and hold notes in ways we had never heard before. That in two short hours he could, in concert with three other wonderful musicians who perform as the National Chamber Ensemble, transform our understanding of the real potential and beauty of the clarinet and, in the process, make us believe he and his instrument were one.
A rare moment when it was clear that we were in the presence of genius.
And if you enjoy classical music, chamber music, jazz, or simply like the sound of woodwinds, you should definitely learn more about Julian Milkis. And you should definitely try to hear him live in New York, or Washington, or Toronto, or London, or any place he happens to be playing...
Or anyplace where he happens to be reinventing the way a clarinet and its music sound.
And when you do, try to spend at least a few moments thinking about what it takes to reimagine anything worth doing...and how you and all of your colleagues might turn your passion into a work of art.
In the meantime, here's a short video of him playing with the Borodin Quartet...
We win in business and in life when we turn our gifts into magic. And when we become one with the tools of our trade.