Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Clara Byom is a versatile multi-instrumentalist, musicologist, arts administrator, and tunesmith who has been described as having “radiant energy” and “immense talent.” Perpetually curious and driven by her Wisconsin dairy farmer work ethic, she has become deeply knowledgeable about a myriad of musical genres and skilled at clarinets, accordion, and piano. In addition to numerous collaborations, she has premiered many new classical works for solo clarinet and bass clarinet and played a solo accordion tour in July 2019. She also has a small teaching studio, primarily with adult students learning clarinet and piano
In The Parson Sisters, a global folk dance duo with Mirinisa Stewart-Tengco, Clara plays accordion, piano, Bb clarinet, and Turkish G clarinet. Their repertoire includes Balkan, Irish, old-time, Scottish, Americana, Scandinavian, English country, contra, and techno contra music, as well as original dance music by Clara from her first tune book entitled On The Brighter Side & Other Dance Tunes, published in May 2019. (“Clara's personal radiance spills into her tunes, which reflect the joy, beauty and energy of dance.” -Merri Rudd, caller and dancer) The Parson Sisters have toured the Midwest and California playing concerts and dances and were on staff at FolkMADness dance camp in Soccoro, NM and Tarab Retreat in Colorado Springs, CO.
Clara Byom and Dalton Harris co-founded the New Mexico Contemporary Ensemble in 2016, which performs new and experimental classical chamber music and has received the highly competitive New Music USA grant. The ensemble collaborates regularly with young composers and nearly every program includes a premiere – thirty premieres in the first three seasons. In the spring of 2019, the ensemble was honored to be one of the guest ensembles at the SCI National Conference held at the University of New Mexico. As of 2019, Clara performs in Blue Tortoise Duo, a project of NMCE, with multi-instrumentalist Chris Ogden. As a director of the ensemble, Clara does much of the administrative work, including grant-writing, scheduling, and tour booking.
Clara performs regularly with Paul Hunton’s Dust City Opera, an Indie Folk Rock band that released its debut album, Heaven, in March of 2019. Hunton’s songwriting often includes dark and bold subject with whimsical and light-hearted melodies and unique orchestration. The band, formed in early 2018, features many of Albuquerque’s most highly sought-after musicians and has quickly gained attention throughout the state.
Founded in 2014, Di Kavene Kapelye is a klezmer trio in which Clara plays Bb clarinet and a newly acquired German-system C clarinet. The trio’s repertoire is heavily influenced by Clara’s academic research on mid-century American klezmer music. She was a guest lecturer at KlezmerQuerque 2017, as well as College of Charleston (Spring 2017) and Eastern New Mexico University (Spring 2018), and has presented at conferences for the International Clarinet Association (Summer 2018), Society for Ethnomusicology (Spring 2017) and Yiddish Summer Weimar (Summer 2016). Since the Summer of 2014, she has done archival work for the Center for Traditional Music and Dance in New York City, primarily digitizing and cataloging the field recordings of 2015 National Heritage Fellow Michael Alpert, a leading figure in the klezmer revitalization.
Inspired by community-building through music, Clara is proud to serve on the Board of Directors for two non-profit organizations in addition to the New Mexico Contemporary Ensemble. Since the fall of 2018, she has served as the Development Director for The Klezmer Institute, an international organization founded for the advancement of scholarship, preservation, and performance of Ashkenazic Jewish Expressive Culture. Additionally, she serves as President of the New Mexico Folk Music and Dance Society, a local organization that presents contra and English Country Dance events, as well as two regional dance camps.
Clara serves as music director for St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church, where she began a music series featuring local musicians in concerts that benefit charitable organizations. She also accompanies regularly for Congregation Albert, St. Luke Lutheran Church, and the New Mexico Women’s Chorus small group. She holds a Master of Music degree from the University of New Mexico in Clarinet Performance and Musicology (2017) and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Luther College (2012).
Photo credit, unless noted otherwise, on this page: Randi Thompson