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Stony Brook student honored by national arts organization

Davani has been honored by  the National YoungArts Foundation. (DAVID JOHN DAVANI)
Davani has been honored by the National YoungArts Foundation. (DAVID JOHN DAVANI)

David John Davani may seem like your average freshman at Stony Brook University.

He is 18 years old, is a resident of Tabler Quad, and is in the Honors College.

However, how many freshmen, let alone students at Stony Brook have been honored for the second time by the National YoungArts Foundation—last year for clarinet and this year for baritone voice—and have recently won the Stony Brook Undergraduate Concerto Competition? Not many.

Davani is originally from Sea Cliff, N.Y., and is currently pursuing a dual degree in biology and music.

The multi-talented musician says his taking up the clarinet were weighed by two factors: the first, being his grandfather, who also played the same instrument, and the second being an odd encounter at about nine years old with a jazz band clarinetist on a family trip down in New Orleans.

“He pulled me over and said that I looked like a clarinetist,” Davani said.

Evidently, the jazz band clarinetist down in New Orleans was right, because the young undergraduate student has proven his impressive musical abilities in more ways than one.

Although he took it up in elementary school, Davani says he did not seriously start studying the instrument until the sixth grade, when he enrolled in the preparatory division of Mannes College The New School For Music, located in Manhattan.

“I really love the instrument,” Davani said. “I felt very seriously about it.”

The clarinetist expressed his gratitude towards the impressive duo of instructor David Sapadin and mentor Naomi Drucker, both of whom have helped him excel and advance his musical talent.

Sapadin is a freelance clarinetist and a regular player at the Metropolitan Opera and Drucker is a clarinetist of the American Chamber Ensemble, as well as wife of Stanley, the principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic for 60 years.

Davani entered his first National YoungArts Foundation competition during the beginning of his senior year of high school and was recognized as one of the 2012 winners for clarinet.

Up to 150 YoungArts winners are chosen across the country, to participate in master classes, performances, workshops and the opportunity to win up to $10,000 in individual prize money.

“As a musician, I felt good and I was happy to win,” Davani said. “Competitions are subjective and I put my heart and soul into it.”

One could tell by his second winning of the National YoungArts Foundation competition that clarinet is not the young musician’s only musical talent.

His powerful baritone voice won him the competition the second time around where hewas recognized as one of the 2013 winners.

Davani explained that he never really competed on voice until the YoungArts competition.

“Except for recitals, I felt the need to keep my voice to myself,” he said. “People would hear me sing and be shocked because it was nothing like my speaking voice.”

“My long-term dream in terms of voice would be to National Council Auditions at the

Metropolitan Opera and be able to sing on that stage that I visit so frequently every year,” he said.

For a short time during his later years at Mannes, Davani was a member of the Select Chamber Choir, in addition to being the principal clarinetist of the Preparatory Philharmonic.

At the end of his senior year in high school, Davani auditioned both voice and clarinet on the same day for Stony Brook University’s music program.

For voice, he was accepted to take lessons and is currently studying with advanced doctoral student Christopher Reames.

For clarinet, he was accepted by Alan R. Kay, an artist-in-residence, whom Davani said played an integral role in his winning the Stony Brook Undergraduate Concerto Competition, for which he was awarded the Bright Lights Scholarship for music in March 2013.

“I feel very lucky to be able to study with one of the faculty members in the music department,” he said. “In the short time studying with Professor Kay, we’ve done some really great work.”

Davani describes his greatest challenge in school as registering for classes so that he has large blocks of time to devote to practicing.

“Aside from that, I manage to do everything,” he said.

As if his musical talents and accolades weren’t enough to fill up a resume, Davani has proven his extensive scientific abilities.

The double music and biology major was an Intel Science Talent Search Semi-Finalist in high school and was awarded third place in the New York State Science and Engineering Fair in the medicine and health category during his senior year.

As his musical talent continues to shine during the school year at Stony Brook, Davani says this summer he will be continuing his research at the vascular biology center at Winthrop-University Hospital, which is academically connected with SBU.

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