Members of the Tullahoma Clarinet Choir will receive an opportunity to perform in front of an international crowd this weekend when they visit ClarinetFest 2019 in Knoxville, school officials announced.

According to Assistant Band Director Lisa Burden, the Tullahoma Clarinet Choir, under the direction of Jen Zimmerer, was invited to perform for the International Clarinet Association’s celebration of the woodwind instrument.

Zimmerer has been at the helm of the clarinet choir for nearly six years, and said the opportunity to perform at ClarinetFest was something her students won’t forget.

“The cool thing for them is they get to play on an international stage,” she said. Because the festival is a gathering of collegiate and professional clarinetists from around the world, her students will be able to see a level of proficiency at their instrument they’ve never experienced.

“I think I’m excited for them … to hear other groups, because they don’t hear other clarinets that much,” Zimmerer said. “Most of these students play in mid-state band. A lot of them have played in all-state, but they haven’t heard the level of college and professional playing that they’re going to hear, so I think that will be really cool.”

According to Zimmerer, not only will high school musicians be able to experience the grandeur of the festival, but there are some eighth grade students attending as well.

The Tullahoma Clarinet Choir, she said, is made up of students from the eighth through 12th grade. The majority of the choir has also been taking private lessons on their instruments, though not all of them do.

When they perform in Knoxville, Zimmerer said they will be performing newer music than they’ve played in the past.

In order to receive an invitation to play at the festival, Zimmerer said, the group had to submit a tape of them performing as an audition piece. The group sent in its tape last September, she said, and they were notified of their invitation to perform later in the school year.

The festival is a week-long experience in the heart of Rocky Top this year, but the clarinet choir will only get to experience a weekend in East Tennessee, Zimmerer said.

“They’ll be there for all of Saturday and part of Sunday for the conference,” she said. “They’ll perform early Saturday morning and then they have all day listening to fantastic performers and world-class musicians.”

Some of the things the group will experience include a performance by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. According to Zimmerer, the symphony will have guest soloists on the clarinet performing on Friday night, which will be the group’s first glimpse at “a caliber of playing they’ve never heard.”

Additionally, one member of the choir, Whitney Roberts, will receive the chance to attend a clarinet master class.

According to Zimmerer, there are multiple master classes and seminars sprinkled throughout the week, and interested attendees fill out applications and audition for the opportunity to attend the classes.

Roberts, who will be starting her senior year at THS next month, was one of the lucky ones accepted into a class.

Zimmerer had great expectations for Roberts’ performance, calling her a “fantastic player.”

Roberts, the child of a military family, has moved many places throughout her life, but has taken private clarinet lessons no matter where she’s lived, Zimmerer said. When her family moved to Tullahoma, she immediately lined up lessons in the area and was instantly an asset to the group.

“She came in strong and fit in with the group really well,” Zimmerer said.

The Tullahoma Clarinet Choir is scheduled to perform at 8 a.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, July 27. For more information about ClarinetFest 2019, visit For more information on the clarinet choir, contact the Tullahoma Band office at 454-2629.

Erin McCullough may be reached at