Stephanie Zelnick

Stephanie Zelnick
  • Professor of Clarinet
  • Woodwinds

Contact Info

418 Murphy Hall
1530 Naismith Drive
Lawrence, KS 66045-3103


Clarinetist Dr. Stephanie Zelnick has a dynamic and multi-faceted career as a soloist, orchestral performer, and chamber musician, appearing throughout North America, Asia, South America, and Europe. Performing and teaching in venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, Northwestern University, Yale School of Music, among many others, she has received critical acclaim for her "committed and polished performances." A distinguished educator and scholar, she is the Professor of Clarinet at the University of Kansas.

In addition to broadcasts on Performance Today and other NPR affiliates, she has performed and taught extensively throughout Italy, France, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Finland, Czech Republic, Spain, Costa Rica, Slovakia, Germany, and most recently at festivals in Brazil, Lithuania, Mexico, Serbia, Romania, Colombia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Taiwan. Recent performances and masterclasses include Indiana University, Eastman School of Music, University of Michigan, Florida State University, Real Conservatorio Superior de Madrid, the Lithuanian Academy of Music, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival, Festival Internacional de Clarinetes Costa Rica, the Academy for the Performing Arts in Prague, the National Concert Hall in Taiwan, and the Dame Myra Hess Series, among others.

She has held principal clarinet positions in Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, Central City Opera, Johann Strauss Opera in Vienna, Mississippi Symphony, Prague Opera Orchestra, Colorado Ballet, and Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra, and has appeared with various other orchestras including Colorado Symphony, Prague Chamber Orchestra, Kansas City Symphony, Tallahassee Symphony, and Tucson Symphony. Dr. Zelnick has appeared as a soloist with numerous orchestras, championing classic repertoire as well as vibrant new works. 

She is the recipient of awards from Privrednik (Serbia’s leading humanitarian organization), the Fulbright Commission, the Lithuanian Council on Arts and Science, and American embassies around the world. She received the University of Kansas School of Music Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award in 2021. 

Dr. Zelnick’s recordings can be heard on the Innova, Accademia del Clarinetto, and Naxos labels, among others. She has also released two solo albums, Diaspora and Diversions: the Midcentury Clarinet, and a chamber album entitled AdZel. Of her recordings, The Clarinet praises her "crystal clear tone and beautifully shaped phrases.” Her most recent project Wind and Bow, recorded with members of the Kansas City Symphony, features rarely recorded works for clarinet and string quartet. She was also recently featured on the Brazilian album Choro Joiado.

With Mariam Adam, she is a founder of the AdZel Duo, a group that is establishing cultural dialogues through music. The ensemble has commissioned and recorded works by contemporary composers and created concerts with writers that incorporate spoken word and music. Their album entitled AdZel received praise from The Clarinet for its “compelling unity of sound and excellent ensemble."

Previous faculty positions include the University of Wyoming and the University of Northern Colorado. She has appeared at numerous International Clarinet Association ClarinetFests as an invited artist and headliner at other festivals and conferences. Dr. Zelnick has served on the artistic committees of the 2008 and 2016 ClarinetFests and hosted the latter event. She has served on the summer faculties of the Chautauqua Institution, Sunflower Music Festival, the Wyoming Festival, and the Rocky Ridge Music Festival.

Dr. Zelnick enjoys pushing the boundaries of clarinet through her scholarship and research projects. She has published featured articles in The Clarinet including “The High Altitude Clarinetist” and "Notable Women Clarinetists Born Before 1950." She is currently writing a book on air support and physical conditioning for optimal performance and health in classical musicians, a project that was recently featured on 9 News Denver. Dr. Zelnick's work with Summit Musicians, a group based out of Colorado, is challenging the norms of classical music by playing on the highest peaks in the region, highlighting works by new composers and the intersection of music and nature. Her presentation entitled "Obstacles and Open Doors: Female Clarinet Pioneers in the Mid 20th Century" was recently featured at the University of the Arts in Helsinki and at the Hall Center for the Humanities. She is a member of the National Peer Review Committee for the J. William Fulbright Committee and was a Fulbright Grant recipient in the Czech Republic. She is a Buffet-Crampon Artist and Clinician.


Research interests:

  • performing nationally and internationally as a soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician
  • recording standard repertoire and underrepresented works for clarinet
  • international conference presentations and publications on gender and music and underrepresented composers and performers
  • international chamber music collaborations that explore new horizons and possibilities in music
  • commissioning and premiering original and innovative works
  • recipient of international and national grants including Fulbright Fellowship, Big XII Fellowship, Lithuanian Council for Arts and Sciences Grant, and the Privrednik Award
  • work on pedagogy and neurodiversity