Zooming the stars

Article published in Clarinet and Saxophone magazine, Spring 2021

Excerpt: “From May to December 2020, Andrew Michael Simon, principal clarinettist with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, hosted over 50 hours of online interviews with leading clarinet players as part of ‘Andy’s Licorice talk’. He shares some of the highlights and common themes that emerged from the series.

After hearing me rave about watching some online interviews with well-known clarinettists, my friend Lorenzo Iosco, bass clarinettist with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HK Phil), suggested that I start an interview series of my own, as he often ‘complains’ I talk non-stop about our beloved licorice stick (or liquorice as you call it in the UK) and all the clarinet friends I’ve accumulated in over 30 years as principal clarinettist with the HK Phil.

Noting what he described as my ‘gift of the gab’, Lorenzo thought we could have some fun during this difficult era of Covid restrictions. He offered technical and promotional assistance with the interviews under one condition: that we start with Andrew Marriner, his previous principal clarinettist during his eight-year tenure as bass clarinettist with the London Symphony Orchestra. And with that, we were of.

In the first few episodes I sought feedback from the audience about whether the series should continue, treating each episode like a jazz solo with its own length, ranging from just over an hour to sometimes more than three hours. And like a jazz solo, much preparation was done beforehand in terms of research and formulating possible questions. But ultimately, the direction of each interview unfolded in real time as dictated by the moment, often leading to some unexpected twists and turns. Without set time limits, this conversational approach allowed the audience to experience their favourite clarinet stars in their home setting, including exposure to their families, pets, gardens and hobbies….”

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