AIMS Wind Academy

Nicholas Carpenter

Nicholas Carpenter


Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

Nicholas Carpenter started his formal musical education as a chorister at St.Paul’s Cathedral, London. However, it is fair to say that his introduction to the clarinet goes back to his earliest memories. His father, Raymond Carpenter, was Principal Clarinet with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra for nearly forty years, and provided the inspiration for his love of the clarinet as well as the enthusiasm and encouragement to start studying the instrument.

At St. Paul’s Cathedral, Nicholas eventually became Head-chorister under the guidance of the legendary choirmaster, Barry Rose, and from there he gained the top Music Scholarship to Charterhouse School where he was fortunate to study with David Campbell. Whilst at school he won the inaugural National Chamber Music Competition for Schools with his performance of movements form the Mozart and Jacob Quintets.

Following Charterhouse, he spent four years at the Royal College of Music studying with Thea King and John McCaw. This culminated with winning the Thurston Clarinet Competition and included, amongst other things, a performance of the Francaix Clarinet Concerto with the RCM orchestra.

Nicholas had just started to study conducting at the RCM with Norman Del Mar when he was asked by the Bournemouth Sinfonietta to play guest principal for the Glyndebourne Tour. What was to have been a temporary assignment became a permanent position and he remained with the orchestra as principal clarinet for ten years. During this time he often appeared as Director and Soloist performing concertos by Mozart, Weber, Finzi and Arnold. It was also during this time that he began to appear as Guest-Principal with many orchestras in the UK such as the London Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic and the Philharmonia.

In 1995 Nicholas was invited to join the London Philharmonic Orchestra where he remained for the next eighteen years playing Principal, Eb and sub-Principal Clarinet. During this time, as well as performing in most of the major concert halls of the world, he played under the baton of many of the world’s finest conductors including Tennstedt, Sawallisch, Mehta, Sanderling, Jansons, Solti, Haitink, Gergiev, Masur and Jurowski. He has also appeared on numerous classical recordings with the orchestra as well as many soundtracks such as ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’.  Concerto appearances with the orchestra included Mozart and Eotvos. Whilst at the LPO he also appeared as guest principal clarinet with virtually every professional orchestra in England, including a brief spell as Principal Clarinet with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields.

Chamber Music has also been an integral part of his career, firstly with ensembles from within the Bournemouth Sinfonietta and latterly with members of the London Philharmonic and Academy of St Martin. He has appeared many times at the Wigmore Hall as well as venues around UK and abroad, and his recording of the Mozart Clarinet Quintet, with the Brindisi Quartet for EMI, was accorded the ‘Best Recording’ recommendation by BBC Radio 3 ‘Building a Library’.

Nicholas is much in demand as a teacher and woodwind coach and has regularly given masterclasses throughout the UK and abroad including Budapest, Oman, Brisbane and New York. He has coached many Youth Orchestra clarinet and wind sections including the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and in 2008 was appointed as Professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. More recently, he has taken up the position of ‘Head of Woodwind Performance’ at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Nicholas now pursues a very varied career as a freelance clarinetist, clarinet teacher and woodwind consultant. As well as appearing as guest principal clarinet with many orchestras in the UK, he is now regularly in the recording studio and can be heard on many contemporary soundtracks such as ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ and ‘Captain Underpants’. As well teaching and coaching at the RWCMD, he gives regular masterclasses and consultation lessons and can occasionally be found conducting Youth Orchestras and Ensembles.

Nicholas Carpenter is a Yamaha Artist and plays Yamaha Custom Clarinets.