British clarinettist and conductor Antony Pay is a remarkably versatile musician of great brilliance. As one of the world’s leading virtuoso clarinetists his artistry embraces solo recital, chamber, concerto and orchestral playing on a rare equal footing. He is internationally acknowledged as a master of all these genres as well as a leading world specialist in the performance of contemporary music, and early music on authentic ‘period’ instruments. He is also much in demand as a conductor throughout Europe.
Antony Pay began his performing career with the National Youth Orchestra in 1961, both as a principal in the Orchestra and a soloist. He qualified in music and mathematics at Cambridge University, after which he soon became highly sought after as an orchestral, chamber and solo player. In 1968 he was invited to join the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra by its Music Director Rudolf Kempe, and the same year he became one of the founding members of the radical, ground breaking London Sinfonietta, which powerfully influenced the development of new and contemporary music in Britain. The following year he received very high praise for his debut as a soloist at the BBC Henry Wood Promenade Concerts, at which he performed the Mozart Clarinet Concerto. He also became associated with the Nash Ensemble and the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields. Already he was combining many disparate artistic activities with a reputation as a virtuoso in all the ‘departments’.
In 1982 Antony Pay gave the world premiere of an immensely demanding and complex work written for him by Hans Werner Henze. In Henze’s The Miracle Rose, for solo clarinet
and chamber ensemble, he performed the pyrotechnically difficult solo part and conducted
the ensemble. This was one of many collaborations Antony Pay has enjoyed with leading
contemporary composers that include, as well as Henze, Luciano Berio, Sir Harrison
Birtwistle, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
Antony Pay is regarded as the world’s leading clarinet authority and performer on
authentic ‘period’ instruments for early music. He has collected a remarkable
range of clarinets and has designed a wide variety of instruments for reconstruction. He
performs on them with the Academy of Ancient Music and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
Antony Pay’s solo engagements in recitals and concertos make him a regular guest
in Europe and the United States. He has had particularly happy associations with the
London Philharmonic, London Symphony, Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, San Francisco, and
Prague Chamber Orchestras.
Antony Pay also enjoys an active conducting career with some of the world’s finest
orchestras. These include the Royal Philharmonic, Philharmonia, English Chamber, City of
Birmingham Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, and Austrian Radio Symphony.
A prolific recording artist, Antony Pay’s discography includes clarinet concerti
by Mozart, Spohr, Weber, Crusell, Krommer and Berio, solo clarinet works by Stravinsky and
Berg, and chamber works by Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, Berwald, Hummel, Dvorak,
Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Gerhard, Stockhausen and Arnold.
Teaching and giving masterclasses feature as important priorities in Antony Pay’s
life. Especially in Italy, France, Denmark, Sweden and Japan his masterclasses have
attracted some of the most promisingly brilliant young clarinettists from all over the
An avid reader and active writer of books and articles on music, Antony Pay is now
working on a book about the use of metaphor in teaching and learning music.