B i o g r a p h y

NICK SHIPMAN began to play the clarinet aged 14 and was largely self-taught at first. His progress was so rapid that at the age of 15 he was spotted by Anthony Clarke (clarinettist with the Hallé Orchestra) who recommended that he audition for the Leicestershire School of Music's 'Special Music Double A Level Course', a full-time course intended to give highly specialised training to gifted young musicians, helping prepare them for advanced musical studies. Being one of only a handful selected for a highly sought-after place on the course gave Nick a wonderful opportunity to focus on his musical development with like-minded people. Whilst a steep learning curve, the course gave him a wealth of performance and ensemble experience. During this time he attended regular lessons with Jack Brymer OBE in London, a truly inspiring experience.

At the age of 17, Nick was offered a place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, continuing his studies with Joy Farrall, Dame Thea King, Andrew Webster and Michael Whight; he also took lessons on the bass clarinet with Ruth MacDowell (Principal Bass Clarinet with the BBC Symphony Orchestra).

After completing the course and gaining his BMus (hons), Nick took a year away from the intense world of musical education while spending time in London to consider his options for the future. A strong desire to study abroad led him to discover the Dutch clarinettist Sjef Douwes (Principal Clarinet with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra) and after gaining a place at the Royal Conservatorium for Music and Dance in The Hague, Holland, Nick spent the next two years improving the technical side of his clarinet playing as a means to shaping his own expressive musical voice.

In 1999 and back in London, he began the task of building a career, primarily as a soloist and chamber musician. That year he was awarded the Croydon Symphony Orchestra Soloist Award which led to a number of performances with the orchestra at the Fairfield Halls, Croydon.

During the subsequent years, he gave many concerts throughout the UK, France, Belgium and having made a number of lasting contacts, he frequently returned to Holland to take part in concerts and events. With his focus having been mainly on the traditional clarinet repertoire until this point, he now began to develop an interest in new music which brought him to take lessons with Linda Merrick, a specialist in contemporary music for clarinet.

In 2004, he successfully auditioned for the prestigious Park Lane Group and performed in one of their showcase concerts in the Purcell Room at London's South Bank Centre, where, among other works, he gave the world premiere of 'Three Maquettes' for solo clarinet by Douglas Young.

The following year he was selected by the Fresh! Young Musician's Platform to give a recital, again in the Purcell Room, in their 2005 concert series. A few months later he made his Wigmore Hall debut.

Increasingly in demand and with a burgeoning reputation as an exciting and engaging musician, Nick has already appeared as soloist with many orchestras. He has performed works by a wide range of composers in venues such as the Fairfield Halls, St. James' Church Piccadilly, Reading Town Hall, Marlborough College Chapel, The Guildhall in Bath and St. George's in Bristol.

As a chamber musician he has performed in the Barbican Hall, St John's Smith Square, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Wigmore Hall, Cité de la Musique in Paris, De Doelen in Rotterdam and has taken part in the Aldeburgh Festival, the Dartington International Festival, the Cheltenham Festival and the Muziek in de Maartenskerk International Chamber Music Series in Holland. With regular duo partners You-Chiung Lin and Stefan Hofkes, he has given recitals throughout the UK, Europe and the USA. He has been broadcast on BBC Radios (BBC 2 and BBC 3), Dutch Radio 4 in live broadcasts from the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and also from Temple Church in London as part of the Handel celebrations in 2009 - this live event was subsequently broadcast on a number of occasions during the following months. He has given a recital at St George's, Bristol, in their Award Winners Series and a performance of the Brahms Clarinet Quintet with the Ad Libitum String Quartet of Romania. He has also collaborated with the Brussels based Kryptos String Quartet and the internationally acclaimed Lendvai String Trio.

In 2005-2007, he took part in the very successful Ensemble in Residence scheme at the Beauforthuis arts venue in Austerlitz, Holland, which involved giving many chamber music concerts and workshops to encourage a strong partnership with the local community. This resulted in playing with some of Holland's leading singers and musicians in a variety of venues. An important part of the work was the commissioning and performing of new works and giving presentations in new and sometimes unusual locations. One of the more memorable occasions was when he gave the Dutch Premiere of Nigel Clarke's 'The Devil and the Hemlock Stone' for clarinet and sound design, in an open air performance in the woods of Austerlitz, with a setting sun as the backdrop.

Recent engagements have included a concert tour of Holland playing the Brahms Clarinet Quintet with the Camenae Collective, a performance of Benjamin Britten's Clarinet Concerto (completed by Colin Matthews) at St George's in Bristol and a performance of the Brahms Clarinet Trio in the Muziek in de Maartenskerk International Chamber Music Series.

 

Q u o t e s

“...Magnus Lindberg’s astounding Clarinet Concerto...This undoubted masterpiece is truly a work for the 21 st century – not just because it was completed and first performed in 2002 but because it would have been dismissed in the last century as being unplayable. It requires exceptional talent to perform the work at all and it rapidly became apparent that the virtuoso clarinettist Nicholas Shipman has this in abundance.
This concerto makes considerable demands on both the soloist and a full symphony orchestra. But the astounding pyro-technics involved are always subservient to the essential musical structure and not purely for effect.
This performance of it was a superb achievement by soloist, conductor and orchestra combined...” 
 John Burleigh, Henley Standard

 

"...Artie Shaw's rarely heard Clarinet Concerto, written in 1940 and originally with swing band accompaniment, was the gem of the evening...the main plaudits must go to the soloist, Nicholas Shipman. In his hands the clarinet became liquid ebony! His swing-style glissandi were invariably beautifully judged and apparently effortless. His tone was smooth and clear throughout the instrument's compass with no concessions made to the technically demanding solo part. His ascent to the final high C was a tour de force. The audience loved it..."  John Burleigh, Henley Standard

 

"...Shipman was the star of the evening...virtuoso dexterity and agility of mind, lungs, lips and fingers...compelling..."  Hilary Finch, The Times

 

"...A musician capable of everything required both musically and technically..."  Sjef Douwes, Principal Clarinet, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra

 

"...a young musician with a future..."  Jack Brymer OBE

 

"...a clarinet playing machine!"  Nicholas Daniel, oboe player and conductor

© Nicholas Shipman

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