It would appear, by all intents and purposes, that
Conn-Selmer has absorbed the Leblanc company, at least within the US.
Conn-Selmer shows no Leblanc artist model clarinets, neither Opus or Concerto; all of Leblanc clarinets, Vito, etc. are being advertised under the Conn-Selmer name.
William Ridenour , the designer of the Opus and Concerto, has been producing the “Libertas” in hard rubber, an exact copy of the Concerto, and incidentally, a superb clarinet, certainly the finest instrument in the Ridenour output. I got the last of the current number of Libertas instruments several weeks past. This particular clarinet was the template for the Lbertas and , as such, doesn’t have the usual and somewhat traditional jump-keys as other Lyrique and all Leblancs have or had, shall we say.
Not only is this Libertas of mine a superb clarinet, but unique as well, in its traditional layout of the trill keys.
Speaking of “jump-keys”. It is amusing to note that each key having a separate screw implies that in case of emergency, one of these keys may jump off the clarinet, careening into the eye of a member of the audience , or perhaps a member of the ensemble, or even maybe, let’s hope, into the eyes of a conductor. But, as far as I know or remember, this has never happened. Back in the dark ages, I used to have all-leather pads in these trill keys, may have gotten condensation in one , but never did a key jump off the horn.
So goes the quirks of the industry. It also may be worth mentioning, that clarinets do not change that much as there is not that much to change, a gimmick here and a doodad there is usually only a sales pitch.
I’m delighted with the change, since it affords the public the opportunity to purchase a superb clarinet in ebonite, one that will not change pitch in a cold hall or crack open when the case comes into the rehearsal from the car or cab on a cold day.
Best of all, an affordable superb clarinet.
I still remember the students whos parents had to borrow money at high interest in order to get their children a “good” clarinet, which , inevitably ends up in the closet, there being so much employment available for clarinetists. The number of orchestras diminish by the week in the US, yet the graduate schools accept more and more aspiring clarinetists who will have to seek other employment.
There is a particular personality that will always produce, mistake-free in an orchestral situation. That doesn’t happen that frequently, in the ultra-sensitive environment of the clarinetist wishing to make a life in a symphony orchestra.
Music has the strangest and most wonderful ability to be loved and enjoyed by all, a necessary function of life. We must always remember the beauty, but perhaps not be ensnared its seductive nature.
stay well, and keep practicing.