$300K endowment provides lasting support for Clendenin Brass Quintet students

Clendenin Brass Quintet

June Clendenin provided funding for five brass student scholarships every year from 1991 to 2017, making high-level brass chamber music possible for the Clendenin Brass Quintet at Fresno State.

In 2018, the Clendenin Brass Endowed Scholarship was created with $300,000 in memory of June by her son, Dr. W. Ritchie Clendenin, former professor of trumpet at Fresno State. 

The group will have its formal fall recital along with the President’s Quintet at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20, at the Concert Hall. Tickets are $6.

Clendenin Brass Quintet performs “Vater unser im Himmelreich” by J.S. Bach, , arranged by Dr. Thomas Hiebert.

This year, the Clendenin Brass Quintet students are Patrick Jensen, trumpet; Erik Nickell, trumpet; Dylan Sullivan, horn; Key Poulan IV, trombone; and Taylor Duchai, tuba.

Being in the quintet has been a unique experience, Poulan explained. “It’s a smaller ensemble and forces us to listen more intensely; we have to listen well and fit our parts into everyone else.”

This need for precision requires an extraordinary focus on the students’ craft. In addition to their two and a half hours a week of formal rehearsals, their individual practices range from two to four hours a day and even more during weekends.

The members said they found their way to Fresno State because of the quality, affordable education from world-class musicians and an amazing music community.

Jensen, born and raised in Fresno, attended Fresno State athletics events throughout his life and witnessed the Bulldog Marching Band. Poulan and Sullivan were inspired by family and mentors who were Fresno State alumni. Duchai, from Santa Clarita, was involved with his high school band, which was directed by a Fresno State alumnus. Nickell, from Arizona, liked the strong music community where he can develop good connections.

The love for music resonates similarly for all of them because of what it does for people, the stories it tells and how it’s a natural part of the senses. For Sullivan, music is a source of strength and brings people together.

“Music has always been a constant in my life; even if everything else is failing, music is there, Sullivan said”

The scholarships have allowed each of them to continue to hone their skills with one less worry. For Poulan, the support has allowed him to devote time to his instrument, studies and teaching. For Nickell and Sullivan, it means being able to go to school and afford a solid education without burdening their families. Duchai notes how it was like getting paid to do what he loved. Getting to go to school to study what he wants and have a great time doing it makes him grateful for the scholarship.

“To receive a scholarship under Dr. Clendenin’s name is remarkable. He was the former trumpet professor. He’s well known throughout the country. Being able to receive a scholarship under his name is a prestigious honor.”

The quintet performs on many occasions every year including a formal recital every semester, the Music Department’s convocations, the College of Arts and Humanities’ convocations, as well as tours and plays at high schools and junior colleges.

June Clendenin received early training in piano from Catherine Saurer, who was a graduate of the American Conservatory in Chicago. She was awarded a bachelor’s degree in piano performance from the University of Illinois, where she was a student of renowned pianist Stanley Fletcher. June Clendenin was an elementary schoolteacher for many years in the Boulder Valley School District in Colorado. As a pianist, she taught and performed extensively in Colorado, especially with her son, Ritchie.

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2021 Graduate of Fresno State's MFA Creative Writing program, focused in Creative Nonfiction. Hmong American writer.

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