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London, UK

Performs On:

Boston Classic RH-GS Flute

Website:

ianclarke.net

Artist Bio

Ian Clarke (UK)

 

"Ian Clarke Within. This is an amazing recording." "Clarke's playing is incredible in every way." "Flutists who purchase the CD will want to own the music as well."   
                                                                                   - Flute Talk (CD Review January 2006)

"Ian Clarke 'Within' Marvelous and dramatic flute recordings by increasingly recognized star performer Ian. His sweeping soundscapes evoke the beauty of East Africa and capture the most intimate emotion. An album in search of its visual counterpart: Brilliant, brave, moving."   
                                                                                   - Musician (CD Review Spring 2006)

"A stunning performance by player composer Ian Clarke....a true master of his art"
                                                                                   - British Flute Society

"Zoom Tube is a simply astonishing piece. .... Ian's genius lies in his ability to incorporate extended flute techniques for the flute in a way that are thoroughly powerful, natural and accessible musically"  
                                                                                    - programme notes by Wissam Boustany


IAN CLARKE is acknowledged as one of the leading player/composers in the flute world. His compositions have been performed across five continents on stages ranging from London’s South Bank to the Glastonbury Rock Festival and have been featured in countless recitals including four consecutive BBC Young Musician Woodwind finals*. These wide-ranging published works are establishing themselves as some of the most exciting flute repertoire of today and are being embraced by internationally acclaimed performers, syllabuses, teachers, colleges & students alike.

Ian has performed as a featured guest soloist and teacher at major conventions and events in Canada, Italy, Brazil, France, Iceland, Slovenia, Hungary, Netherlands and numerous times for the British Flute Society (BFS) and for the NFA (National Flute Association) in the USA - including in New York 2009 and at Caeser’s Palace Las Vegas. His acclaimed CD ‘Within’ is one of the flute world’s best sellers and his latest CD Deep Blue reached the top 10 in the UK Classical Artist Chart; thought to be a first for an album of original flute music. He has given master-classes at the Royal Academy of Music, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Royal Scottish Academy, Royal Northern, Royal Welsh and Trinity College of Music. 2014 sees him giving master-classes at New York's Juilliard, MSM and Mannes along with other recitals and classes across the USA. He has worked with Flutewise (UK) over many years and has been their artist of the year. In his career he has performed in genres ranging from classical opera to a guest appearance with rock group Jethro Tull/Ian Anderson. Over the years Ian has been invited as a guest artist to many of the top flute courses. Along with Clare Southworth, Ian led the Woldingham International Summer School for many years and has been a regular teacher (and performer) at the Scottish Summer School with Wissam Boustany and Ruth Morely. He is frequently invited to lead and teach at numerous flute events working with all ages and stages around the country and abroad.

A prize-winning student, Ian studied part-time with Simon Hunt, Averil Williams and Kate Lukas of the Guildhall School of Music, London. He concurrently studied Mathematics at Imperial College, London graduating with Honours. Ian is professor of flute at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.

Ian has worked extensively with musician/composer Simon Painter writing, producing and performing music for film & television under the name of Diva Music (www.divamusic.co.uk)

Artist Interview

Ian Clarke (UK)


We had the opportunity to ask Ian a few questions. Take a look at his thoughts on his composition process and inspirations as well as advice for upcoming flutists.


1. What are your greatest inspirations for your compositions?

Each composition has its own story so it is difficult to say, particularly because the pieces on the CD 'Within...' were written over a period of years. However, flute player/composers have definitely been a huge factor along with a diverse set of other influences. Hearing Robert Dick for the first time many years ago at the Royal College of Music was unforgettable and opened up a world of possibilities. Hearing Dave Heath perform his own pieces was also fantastic. Equally, I have always been inspired by great musicians/instrumentalists of all sorts ranging from Oscar Peterson to Sir James Galway, along with great music from Stravinsky's Rite of Spring to Pink Floyd.

I have owned synthesizers and keyboards of various descriptions since I was in school and have experimented with sound ever since. Texture and sound have always intrigued me, and the possibilities in a studio are vast. The former experience of playing in a band has influenced my writing – I have written in many different genres as well as composed with specific images in mind.

I will be playing Xi by Stockhausen in my concerts in Canada and the USA partly because of its influence on subsequent pieces like Zoom Tube, and because Xi is an extraordinary piece. I'm not really big on Stockhausen but a friend of mine did some work with him and leant me her autographed collection of Stockhausen's flute music ... I zoned in on one piece, Xi and set about learning its microtonal language. When heard back to back, the influence of Xi on Zoom Tube is recognizable.

In summary, my flute pieces tend to evolve and take on a life of their own, each with its own thread and package of thoughts, feelings and inspirations. My latest piece Touching the Ether has both philosophical and emotional ideas running through its creation.

2. How do you go about composing? Do you improvise on your flute and then write down your ideas? Or do you already have ideas in your head beforehand?

It is not always a straightforward process.... I feel a need to write something while also finding the process often quite difficult. There are many reasons for this. In general, yes, I improvise and then record or notate these ideas. Also I often have ungraspable images in my head that gradually take shape...

3. How do you balance composing and performing?

The short answer again is, with difficulty! I am lucky that life is very full but this creates a challenge in terms of finding time to write for the flute more. I love performing and it's great to have the opportunity to play in an increasing variety of countries. I recently got back from a brilliant trip to Iceland – somewhere I had never been – playing the flute with a great group of people. And of course, I am off to Canada and the US very soon. A lot of my creative work has been and still is with Simon Painter, my partner in Diva Music, writing for various television and film applications. It was a collaboration with Simon that resulted in T R K s and Tuberama amongst other things. I also love teaching. I seem to need a crowbar to make time to compose for the flute (!), which is something I'm attempting to do now. Interestingly, it is much easier for me to practice repertoire, perform or teach than it is to compose, but I have a 'need' to do it, so in the end it happens.... very complicated!

4. Who has been your greatest influence?

No one person springs to mind. Different people at different times of my life have been important influences. My family, my teachers (flute, piano & school music teachers) and of course legendary musical figures. For me I think I have gone through phases of being particularly influenced or affected by certain people. For instance I won't be alone in being influenced by Sir James Galway. Hearing Robert Dick for the first time had a huge impact and interestingly I heard both in concert at the same convention many years ago. Numerous colleagues, things and people have consciously and subconsciously influenced me since then.

5. What does a typical practice session look like?

My practice sessions vary a lot and don't usually follow a strict regime. Of course I have been through many different routines in the past. However, there are basic themes that give it some shape. I usually do something technical for coordination of fingers e.g. pattern work, virtuosic repertoire, sometimes some studies. I may do some specific tone/resonance flexibility work e.g. exercises of my own, my variations of classic exercises and some slower tunes/movements that I think will help get things going. Tonal variety and expression is always on my mind and it is something I may spend a little time on specifically, particularly if resonance feels a little off, but the thought process is present with whatever I'm playing. Sometimes I may play something 'just because' e.g. a piece of repertoire from the music shelf and this may hang around the stand for a bit.  This adds variety to any repertoire I'm preparing at that point. I may also doodle and improvise a bit and if I'm actually working on a flute composition, this aspect will take on a more significant role; the amount can vary from a very little to taking up much of the session. The other area is of course whatever repertoire is applicable at the time. The approach to each piece or movement will vary and I'll apply few or many practice tools depending on what is required and how much time I have to practice. Teaching, chatting with colleagues, reading and observing other master-classes means that you are constantly reflecting on  how to approach things in your own practice, at least to some degree.

 

6. What is the most important thing to teach an upcoming young flutist/student?

It would be to encourage curiosity, creativity and to discover that things have many layers e.g. listening. I think Shrek said that ogres are like onions and have many layers ... so do many of the things we do as a flautist and musician. If there was one thing I'd encourage a young flutist to do, it would be to write their own tunes for fun and get together with others to play ... oh that's two!

7. Why did you choose to play the flute?

I can recall being fixated by the idea of the flute but I can't really recall a specific trigger. I can still remember getting my first flute when I was 10.

8. What are your interests/hobbies outside the flute?

I like to do various things to keep fit although I'm far from a fitness fanatic. I run quite regularly and at the moment try to add some swimming into the mix. I've also started doing more cycling with my wife which is lovely, on top of the odd walk. Like most people we also like to go out to eat with friends, to the theatre, concerts, shows, comedy and films which we do in fits and starts. And like many others I like to read but as life is busy that can be an erratic past-time. So, all pretty regular stuff.

 

9. How did you come to choose Miyazawa as your flute of choice?

I was looking for more resonance and spin from my flute, particularly in the middle register. I was fortunate to meet the lovely people from Miyazawa UK & US who took me through the range. The Miyazawas with soldered toneholes in particular seemed to work well for me ... Initially, I played the heavy-wall silver then moved onto the GS which is what I used for the CD a couple of years ago and have played solidly since. Even though the player dominates the relationship with their instrument, one's flute is a very personal thing.


10. If you had one piece of advice to give for an upcoming flutist, what would you tell them?


Struggle to imagine the most extraordinary note, phrase, performance and reach for it... every time! Then don't get too worried if you only very rarely get there....getting a little closer is a real buzz!

Miyazawa’s Artist Profiles