Paul Votapek, Principal Clarinet
Louise & Henry Leander Chair
Paul Votapek has been a member of the Naples Philharmonic since 1988. He was chosen by former Music Director Christopher Seaman as principal clarinetist in 1996. He has appeared as a soloist with the Naples Philharmonic on five occasions. Paul has also served as principal clarinet with the Utah Symphony and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, under the direction of Keith Lockhart.
Paul has performed at the Pine Mountain, Kairos and Marrowstone music festivals. He and his father, Ralph Votapek, have released a recording of the Concert and Contest Collection for Clarinet, a noted book of solo literature for student clarinetists.
Paul received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northwestern University, where he studied with Clark Brody and Robert Marcellus. He completed doctoral classes and recitals at Florida State University, where he studied with Frank Kowalsky. Paul has an active private clarinet studio in Naples, and he has been an adjunct faculty member at Florida Gulf Coast University since 2006.
I was born in New York City and raised in East Lansing, Michigan. I received my Bachelor of Music and Master of Music from Northwestern University, and I completed doctoral work at Florida State University. I first had a per-service audition with the Naples Philharmonic in 1988 and won my core position audition in 1990. The principal clarinet audition was in 1996.
What has been your most memorable moment with the orchestra?
Playing the Copland and Mozart clarinet concertos with the orchestra was the most memorable.
What inspired you to become a musician?
Playing Prokofiev’s fifth Symphony at Interlochen in high school. Listening to my parents play music my entire childhood.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
Playing with my colleagues. Playing so many different genres of music.
What’s challenging about playing your instrument?
What are your favorite compositions?
Brahms’ and Mahler’s symphonies, Janáček’s Taras Bulba and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet.
What have you been listening to recently?
Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. Bayonne-Primitives.
Are there other musicians in your immediate family?
My parents are both pianists, my sister is a violinist, and my brother is a cellist. My daughters are studying violin and viola in college, and my wife is a former oboist.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Running and backpacking.