Podcast of Clarinetist Michael Norsworthy talking about his beginnings as a clarinetist and his teachers, including Richard Stoltzman and the legendary Kalman Opperman.
Opperman’s unique and intense method of teaching clarinet made for some good storys. Enjoy! Mr. Opperman passed away in June 2010, aged 91. He lived his life dedicated to playing and teaching the clarinet in the deepest manner possible. The excerpt of Michael’s playing at the beginning and end of the podcast is from Pierre Boulez Dialogue de l’Ombre Double.
MICHAEL NORSWORTHY, clarinet
EXTENDED BIOGRAPHY 2010 – 2011
MICHAEL NORSWORTHY’s virtuosity and unique voice on the clarinet have made him a sought after soloist and chamber music collaborator and garnered praise from critics and audiences around the globe. His performances have taken him to distinguished concert venues including Vienna’s Musikverein, Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Philharmonie Hall, New York City’s Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall and Miller Theatre, Boston’s Jordan and Symphony Halls, St. Louis’ Sheldon Concert Hall, Festival Casals de Puerto Rico and the Aspen Music Festival.
Mr. Norsworthy is one of the most celebrated champions of the modern repertoire. To date, he has given over 125 world premieres with leading contemporary music groups, including Klangforum Wien, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Manhattan Sinfonietta, Fromm Players at Harvard, Boston Musica Viva, Callithumpian Consort in Boston, Ensemble 21 in New York and the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble. He has collaborated with a veritable who’s who of composers from around the globe including Pierre Boulez, Harrison Birtwistle, Elliott Carter, Chris Dench, Brian Ferneyhough, Michael Finnissy, Lukas Foss, Hans Werner Henze, Helmut Lachenmann and Magnus Lindberg among many others.
Recent seasons have included world premieres of works written for him by Michael Finnissy, Hans Tutschku and Pozzi Escot, domestic and international recital tours with pianists Marilyn Nonken and Tyson Deaton, radio appearances on Boston’s WGBH, multiple performances on the Composer Portraits Series at New York’s Miller Theatre, concerto performances with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and Manhattan Sinfonietta, concerts with the Boston Chamber Music Society and Ibis Camerata and Midwestern tours with the Iowa Center for New Music and the Maia String
As soloist he has performed an extensive repertoire of concerti, ranging from Mozart to Ferneyhough, with the Manhattan Sinfonietta, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Kalistos Chamber Orchestra, Callithumpian Consort, Pottstown Symphony, Southern Illinois Symphony and Symphony Pro Musica. As a recitalist, he regularly performs with pianists Yoko Hagino, Michael Finnissy and David Gompper. Mr. Norsworthy has enjoyed chamber music collaborations with pianists Judith Gordon, Stephen Drury, Mihae Lee and Aleck Karis, violinists Harumi Rhodes, Jonathan Crow and Norbert Brainin, violists Roger Tapping and Carol Rodland, cellists Rhonda Rider and Patrick Demenga, singers Tony Arnold and Timothy Jones, saxophonist John Zorn, the Borromeo String Quartet, and players from major orchestras in Boston, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, London, Paris, Berlin and Vienna.
As an orchestral musician he has performed with leading groups including the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Boston Philharmonic and Boston Ballet and is currently principal clarinet with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. As a member of the Star Wars Symphony Orchestra, he has performed for combined audiences of over 730,000 people in the USA, Canada and Mexico with the touring production “Star Wars In Concert”.
Norsworthy is interested in breaking down barriers that exist between classical music and popular and jazz as well as collaborating with artists working in other mediums. He has shared the stage with such popular and jazz icons as Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Savion Glover and Bela Fleck. He worked in the motion picture industry and toured with numerous musical theater productions as a woodwind doubler on saxophone and been presented by the New Gallery Concert Series, Cy Twombly Gallery in Houston and the Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston alongside works by major visual artists.
His current discography numbers over 15 releases and can be found on the Albany, Mode, Gasparo, Canteloupe, BMOP/sound, ECM, Nonesuch, Cirrus Music and Cauchemar labels. Future projects include a CD of chamber music by composer Magnus Lindberg, clarinet music by Michael Finnissy and a CD of popular songs.
Michael Norsworthy is an artist/clinician for, and plays exclusively on Buffet Crampon clarinets and Rico Reeds. Most recently, he collaborated with Rico on the development of the Rico Reserve Classic line of reeds for B-flat clarinet and bass clarinet. Also with Rico, he has begun a series of educational videos that can be found online at the Rico website.
Currently, Norsworthy is Professor of Clarinet and Woodwind Admissions Coordinator at The Boston Conservatory. He is constantly in demand at schools of music and has presented masterclasses and clinics at places such as the Puerto Rico Conservatory, Michigan State University, University of North Texas, Colombia University, Harvard University and Southern Mississippi
University. He has served as artist in residence at Harvard University with the Harvard Group for New Music and was on the artist faculty at Columbia University. He is an active board member for American Century Music and Massachusetts State Chairman for the International Clarinet Association.
Mr. Norsworthy holds advanced degrees from New England Conservatory and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and has attended Michigan State University. His teachers include Elsa Ludewig-Verdehr, Eric Mandat, Kalmen Opperman and Richard Stoltzman. He is the recipient of many awards and distinctions, among them: The John Cage Award, Borromeo String Quartet Guest Artist Award and Southern Illinois University’s Chancellor’s Research and Creativity Award, grants from the Yvar Mikahashoff Trust for New Music, St. Louis Artist Presentation Society and St. Botolph Club Foundation and a fellowship from the Aspen Music Festival. He has written scholarly works for the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and articles for the quarterly journal The Clarinet.
Mr. Norsworthy currently resides in Boston.
For more information, visit
Would you like to share practice ideas with other musicians? You could do so at the Practice Café.
"I am very happy with the ease and versatility with which I can share my content with my audience, clients and business partners alike."