Mitchell Lurie was one of the greatest clarinetists of our time. In fact, some would go so far as to say the greatest. Pablo Casals considered him the “ideal” clarinetist — no idle compliment there; famed composer Elmer Bernstein called him “the premier clarinetist in motion picture music and indeed in the world;” and the great conductor Fritz Reiner had already marked the 17-year-old Lurie for the spot of principal clarinet in the Pittsburgh Symphony during the young musician's first year at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music. Known for his kindness and generosity, as well as his superb musicianship, Lurie, who passed away last November at 86, was a beloved teacher on the faculties of both the USC Thornton School of Music and the Music Academy of the West, and this week the Thornton School honors him with the Mitchell Lurie Memorial Concert , featuring performances by Lurie's son, Dr. Alan Lurie; UCLA professor of clarinet Gary Gray; and David Peck, former student and principal clarinetest for the Houston Symphony. The afternoon also includes recollections, memorabilia and special Mitchell Lurie recordings. As Lurie was dying, he summarized his life with the serene observation, “I sang my song, and I sang it well.” And he's still singing it.

Sun., Sept. 6, 3:30 p.m., 2009

LA Weekly