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INTERVIEW: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s principal clarinet, Katherine Lacy, shares industry insights

PUBLISHED: 16:05 10 May 2017



© Nick Rutter

The orchestra will be performing in Dartford in June

When the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra take to Dartford’s stage next month, the concert will begin with Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture before moving into Mozart’s Clainet Concerto.

Principal clarinet, Katherine Lacy, will be performing the centre-piece of the show, so we spoke with her to find out about her time with the RPO, and how she built her illustrious career.

“The best thing about being a member of the RPO has to be my colleagues,” Katherine said. “It’ such a pleasure to come to work with such friendly people and it makes the music-making even more fun.

“I got involved with music, because it always played a big part in my parents lives. There were always classical music records on at home when I was growing up. One of my dad’s favourites was Jack Brymer playing the Mozart Clarinet Concerto and I’m sure that it must have been that which drew me to the sound of the clarinet. To think that I’m not in some way following in Jack Brymer’s, as he was the RPO’s principal clarinet from 1967-63, is amazing.

“In my opinion the piece is one of the best evert written, if not the best piece for any woodwind instrument ever written. From an audience point of view it’s simply full of great tunes and takes you through so many different characters and emotions, all in less than half an hour.

“From a clarinettist’s perspective, it’s absolutely staggering what Mozart achieved with this piece, compared to anything that had previously been written for the instrument - it spans nearly four octaves, it is incredibly virtuosic and contains the most beautifully expressive phrases you could ever hope to play.”

According to the musician, the industry can be “one of the hardest” to work in.

She said: “You just never know what opportunities might come your way and you need to be ready for them. You will be constatntly told how hard it is to succeed as a musician and it is true that competition is fierce and even if you make it, it’s certainly not an easy life, but I would say that if you really want it and are prepared to work your socks off, go for it. You won’t know unless you try.”

And it’s not necessarily classical music that Katherine likes to listen to in her spare time.

She added: “In the car it’s Radio Four I like to listen to and when I’m at home cooking or chilling out I love listening to music from the big band era, as well as anything from Cuba/South America. I used to do a bit of salsa dancing and always find music from that part of the world completely uplifting. And you can’t beat a bit of Stevie Wonder.”

The RPO are coming to Dartford’s Orchard Theatre on June 11.

For more information and tickets visit

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