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The Instrument of the Devil

The Instrument of the Devil: Clarinet Duo

A light-hearted look at the clarinet family,
tracing its history through some
very approachable repertoire.
Saxophones are also included

“CLAR’NETS, HOWEVER BE BAD AT ALL TIMES ...
DEPEND UPON’T, IF SO BE YOU HAVE THEM TOOTING
CLAR’NETS YOU’LL SPOIL THE WHOLE SET-OUT”.

So said Michael Mail and Mr Penny in Thomas Hardy’s
Under the Greenwood Tree.

AND

Ambrose Bierce in his “Devil’s Dictionary” also had a similar opinion:

“CLARINET: AN INSTRUMENT OF TORTURE
OPERATED BY A PERSON WITH COTTON IN HIS EARS.
THERE ARE TWO INSTRUMENTS THAT ARE WORSE
THAN A CLARINET — TWO CLARINETS”.

Chris Swann, Heather Gould and pianist set out to disprove
(hopefully) these rustic premises with a musical exploration of the
clarinet family and some of its repertoire.

The performance takes in a saxophone or two and also explains the
tricky subjects of transposition, reeds and other matters related to
mastering The Instrument of the Devil.

A Devilishly Good Evening

Sample Programme with some alternative repertoire

Our concert programmes are varied in character, period and style. All items are verbally introduced. Background to the music, a glimpse at some well- known orchestral repertoire and a brain-teasing exposition of the clarinettist’s stock in trade, transposition, are always included. An informal, entertaining, virtuosic and often humorous occasion is guaranteed. The music is of a high quality and whilst the evening is a demonstration of the clarinet family, the presentation is primarily a recital and is most definitely a performance-based creation.

The presentation can be easily adapted for lunchtime recitals or educational workshops (which can include a section on ABRSM exams including marking, aural tips and scales assistance).

Fees are highly competitive and we are happy to discuss particular requirements.


Programme Interval Alternative Repertoire Cast
Chris Swann studied at the Royal Academy of Music where he won the Geoffrey Hawkes Prize for clarinet playing, subsequently spending twelve years as a clarinettist and saxophonist in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.
Chris resigned his position with the RLPO in order to pursue a varied freelance career, playing Principal Clarinet with the BBC Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic, Hallé, Ulster, Scottish Chamber, Manchester Concert, National Symphony and Sinfonia Viva Orchestras.
He has made a number of concerto appearances with the RLPO, and has toured as soloist with the Mozart Festival Orchestra along with various other professional orchestras. In July 1998 he joined the Royal Northern College of Music as Tutor in Clarinet/Eb Clarinet. Chris founded the nationally recognised ensemble ZEPHYR and has also performed chamber music with the Maggini, Allegri and Alberni String Quartets, members of Northern Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble 10:10 and Camerata Ensemble of Manchester.
Examining for ABRSM, coaching, conducting and presenting master-classes allows little time for leisure interests which include activities such as cycling, motorcycling and studying the contents of wine bottles.

Heather Gould is an enthusiastic clarinettist who enjoys her varied solo, chamber and orchestral playing. She graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music with first class honours in 2015, where she studied with Chris Swann and Nicholas Cox. She gained a lot of valuable experience while studying, playing in many orchestral projects and performing with various chamber groups. Heather is now a freelance performer and teacher, working with her local music service and teaching privately. She performs regularly with her clarinet ensemble, Kalliope Clarinets, in venues across the North West. They perform formal recitals and give workshops in schools and within music services. Her orchestral playing has included performances with Sinfonia Viva and the Mozart Festival Orchestra, and she occasionally works with pit orchestras for shows.

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