In 2017, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s exceptional Principal Clarinetist, Katherine Lacy, will be performing Mozart’s ever-popular Clarinet Concerto at the Rose Theatre Kingston on January 28. We asked her a few questions about her career...
What inspired you to become a musician as a child? My parents were involved in entertainment themselves and 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 that drew me to the sound of the clarinet. To think that I’m now in some way following in Jack Brymer’s footsteps (he was the RPO’s principal clarinet 1947-1963) is amazing!
Do you have a defining moment of your musical career so far? The moment when I knew I wanted to be an orchestral musician came when I was seventeen. I was a sixth form student at Chetham’s School of Music and was given the chance to play first clarinet in Rachmaninov’s Symphony No.2 at The Bridgewater Hall. It was the first time I’d really experienced that feeling of being extremely nervous about something, followed by the elation and relief of it going well, as well as the buzz of being part of such a huge team all working together to perform such an incredible piece of music. It made me feel completely alive and I just wanted to do it again and again! I knew at that point that I had to try my best to make it my career.
What do you listen to in your spare time? In the car it’s Radio 4 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!
What makes Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto so special? In my opinion Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto is one of the best pieces, 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 emotions. 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, is incredibly virtuosic and contains the most beautifully expressive phrases you could ever hope to play.
What advice would you offer to any young, aspiring musicians? You just never know what opportunities might come your way and you need to be ready for them! You will be constantly 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!
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Rose Theatre, 24-26 High Street, Kingston, KT1 1HL, January 28, 7.30pm. Tickets £21-£33. More at rosetheatrekingston.org