What is your name?
Sally Arai

Where are you from?
Japan originally

Where do you live now?

What instrument do you play?
clarinet (also teach sax, and played the koto for many years)

How long have you played your instrument?
40+ years

What made you pick that instrument?
It was an unintentional decision. In 4th grade, I was given the chance to play in the school band. Being extremely shy, I chose the clarinet so I could sit beside my best friends' sister who was also my babysitter. The program lasted a few months and I had only learned a few notes before the program ended when the band teacher was fired. When I entered junior secondary school a few years later, my original elective was art. I found the class to be full of rowdy students taught by an angry pregnant feminist. After a few weeks, I finally got up the nerve to request a transfer out of that class. By this point in the school year, my only option was to play the clarinet in band because I had held a clarinet before. I made a personal connection with the band teacher, also a clarinetist, and have never looked back. I am still in touch with that band teacher and some of the friends I met in that band.

Where did you study?
Mostly in Vancouver, earning 2 music degrees at UBC. I also spent a year in Ontario and a summer at the Banff Centre.

If you could have dinner with any composer (living or dead) who would it be and why?
I would like to dine with a female composer like Clara Schumann or Nadia Boulanger because I admire what they accomplished in what was primarily a "man's world".

What is your favourite genre of music, other than classical music?
If there is a genre, I guess it would be light rock, and like most people, from the era of my young adulthood.

What is your favourite band?
I don't think I have a favourite band. I enjoy Paul Simon, the old Manhattan Transfer, Elton John, Beatles.

Other than the KSO, who do you perform with?
I play once or twice a season as substitute clarinetist in the Okanagan Symphony. Last season I played a small feature work with the Brandenburg Orchestra.

What are some interesting places you have traveled to?
When I visited Japan with my husband and son, we traveled by bullet train, bus, ferry, cable car, funicular train and gondola in one day and had spectacular views of Mount Fuji in the vicinity of my birth town.

What are your hobbies outside of music?
Downhill skiing, hiking.

What is your favourite flavour of ice cream?
French vanilla

Do you get nervous? And how do you calm your nerves before a performance?
Only when I know I am not well prepared. Take deep breaths; believe in yourself...