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Our musicians

From Steely Dan to Mahler 2

Published Friday 10 July 2020

Will White, clarinet

When did you start to play your instrument?

When I was 12

Do you play any other instrument?

Along with other members of the Clarinet family (Bass and Eb), I also play saxophone.

Where did you study?

I did my undergrad at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and my Postgrad at the Royal Academy of Music

When did you first play with Sinfonia Cymru?

I first played with Sinfonia Cymru in 2017.

What do you like about working with Sinfonia Cymru?

I love the variety of different projects that Sinfonia Cymru puts on; from full scale operas and orchestral series right down to duos and trios. Though it’s not only the variety in scale, Sinfonia Cymru projects span so many different genres and musical styles, each concert is a unique experience.

I’ve got to say though, perhaps the very best part of working with Sinfonia Cymru are the amazing colleagues you work with and great friendships made along the way.

What is your favourite Sinfonia Cymru moment?

It’s a hard question to answer. As I say, each project is a unique experience but our performance of Tosca at the Abu Dhabi Festival ranks pretty highly. The Te Deum at the end of the first act is incredible, especially with a big chorus and Bryn Terfel singing Scarpia!

What is your favourite musical moment elsewhere?

Another tough one! I was lucky to be part of a performance of Mahler 8 at the Proms a few years ago and the sheer scale of that piece is awe-inspiring. Maybe one of the most memorable performances I was part of was performing Tanz/Haus by James Dillon at Transit Festival. For me it’s an incredible piece that really transports you somewhere else, and leaves you emotionally drained as a performer. Fortunately, with the festival being in a Belgian town famous for breweries, there was adequate means of recharging the batteries.

What do you most like about being a professional musician? 

Again, I’d say the people. Everyone has a slightly different angle on things, have come from different backgrounds and had different experiences. It’s brilliant getting to spend time with everyone. If you can work hard together, do a great concert and still want to hang out with each other afterwards, I think that’s pretty good!

When you’re not playing with Sinfonia Cymru what other orchestras, ensembles or projects are you involved with? I play with a few different orchestras up and down the UK, which is great fun. That’s really the main thing, but I love getting the chance to play chamber music with my trio and other groups.

What are your three favourite pieces of music, and why?

I suppose there might be slightly different answers to this if I was playing or listening. I’ll say my three favourites to listen to.

The fourth movement (Urlicht) of Mahler 2 gets me every time. Everything about it is just so beautiful and heart-wrenching at the same time.

I seem to come back to Artie Shaw’s recording of Stardust a lot. It is a large part of why I play the clarinet. It was my Grandpa who gave me my first instrument and Artie Shaw was his favourite clarinetist. It’s amazing playing and feels quite personal too.

I’m a big fan of Steely Dan and can’t tell you how many times I’ve rewound Wayne Shorter’s sax solo on their song Aja to hear it again. Just for the sheer number of times I’ve listened to this piece, it’s got to make top three!

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