Native Ethiopian Afendi Yusuf Named Cleveland Orchestra’s Principal Clarinetist

Afendi-Yusuf-Clarinettist Cleveland

Almost exactly two years after the retirement of principal clarinet emeritus Franklin Cohen, Afendi Yusuf, a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier’s music program, has been named principal clarinetist with the Cleveland Orchestra at the young age of 28.

Yusuf, a native of Ethiopia, begins his tenure with the orchestra and music director Franz Welser-Most in late September, at the start of the group’s 2017-18 centennial season.

“It is an honor and privilege to join the Cleveland Orchestra,” said Yusuf in a written statement released Thursday, citing his eagerness to collaborate with his “future colleagues, who have been equally warm-hearted and inspiring.”

Yusuf’s ascent was quicker than most. Where many artists work their way up the orchestral ladder, Yusuf landed his seat in Cleveland while still a student at the Conservatory of Music at the Colburn School in Los Angeles, where he earned a professional studies certificate.

Yusuf also holds a degree from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, and an artist diploma from the Glenn Gould School in Toronto, where he studied with Joaquin Valdepenas.

“It is an honor and privilege to join The Cleveland Orchestra,” said Afendi Yusuf in a written statement prepared by the orchestra’s media team.

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