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My Husband Wes

editorial.notes: In the first issue of Clarinet News, we honoured the memory of Wes Foster through a series of articles by people who knew him well and loved him dearly.

By: author.name: Karen Haley Foster

I met Wes in 1977 when he joined the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (ISO), but we didn’t start dating until he asked me out for my Halloween birthday a year later. I fell in love with that tall, handsome gentleman, and we were engaged by American Thanksgiving. We didn’t want to wait till summer to get married, so we planned our wedding — to be held at my parents’ suburban Chicago home — and honeymoon, to coincide with the ISO’s week-long vacation in February 1979. What we didn’t plan on was that two weeks prior to our wedding, Chicago would experience its second largest snowstorm in history, which dumped about twenty-one inches on the area. However, youth and determination prevailed, and we arrived there safely, along with Wes’s mother and several brave friends.

Born and raised in Vancouver, Wes attended the University of British Columbia (UBC) before beginning his professional career. He was Principal Clarinet in the National Ballet Orchestra, the Hamilton Philharmonic, and the Indianapolis Symphony. In 1980, after failing to win the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) audition the first time, Wes figured we would stay in Indianapolis, and we bought a lovely house. No sooner had we started to feel like this was home than Vancouver came calling again, and after flying up to audition once more, Wes finally won the job. He was delighted to be joining such a cohesive and genial woodwind section, and it was an adventure for me to be moving to a “foreign” country!

As a violinist, I was impressed by the complexities of Wes’s clarinet world, which he eagerly shared with me. Almost from our rst date, I was introduced to his two idols, Robert Marcellus and Harold Wright — “the sun and the moon” in Wes’s solar system. Then to the many parts of the clarinet: bells, barrels, mouthpieces, reeds, even clarinets in various keys! I learned, too, that Wes’s studio was his “man cave,” where he practiced, made reeds, or listened to recordings (with headphones). He was fairly inaccessible then, but never resented an interruption.

We made Vancouver our home in 1981, and it was lovely to be near Wes’s parents. They doted on our children and became an integral part of our family. Our daughter Amalie was born in 1982, and Ross followed in 1987. Wes was a devoted father and managed to nd a balance between career and family. He was always so encouraging and supportive to me in my musical pursuits, and we often played chamber music together.

Integrity and commitment were two of Wes’s hallmarks, whether it was performing or teaching. His Tuesdays were usually spent at UBC teaching clarinet majors.

Affable and known for his quick wit, Wes loved to laugh as much as he loved making others laugh. Often when I looked over at the woodwind section, they’d either be doubled over with laughter or sti ing it, depending on whether it was a rehearsal or concert. He made life fun for our children as well, often doing his Donald Duck imitation in front of a delighted audience.

Some of his passions were hockey, sushi, and ice cream—especially Dairy Queen and “Blizzards were on Wes!”

Wes and I made it a priority to take family vacations, often incorporating them with musical activities. The Banff Centre for the Arts was a place dear to Wes’s heart where he had taught many summers. The kids and I accompanied him there and enjoyed being in that gorgeous setting for three summers.

I am very blessed to have had thirty-four years with such a fine and wonderful man.

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