John Bradbury, Clarinet

“As an 17 year old, I heard the COE wind soloists perform the Mozart 13 Wind Serenade at St John’s, Smith Square, directed by Alexander Schneider and it remains one of the most moving and exciting concerts I have ever heard. At University we used to listen to COE recordings and discuss the way that they were simply defining new standards of performance.

Fast-forward 8 years and I had the immense privilege of joining COE as second clarinet. I was only a member for two years but I remain grateful to this day for the sheer depth and brilliance of music making that I was able to share in. Highlights include Cosi fan Tutte with Solti, and two tours with the Wind Soloists, one to North America and another to South America. Quite apart from the music, I’ll never forget playing in Arequipa, Ecuador, at over 8000 feet above sea level and being offered oxygen at the interval!”


John studied Natural Sciences at St John’s College, Cambridge. He was awarded a Travel Scholarship to study with Larry Combs of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, then went on to the Royal Academy of Music where he won the Hawkes Clarinet Prize and the Principal’s Prize.

John held the sub-principal chairs in the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the London Symphony Orchestra, before his invitation to become Principal Clarinet with the BBC Philharmonic. He has played Guest Principal with all the major UK orchestras as well as with John Wilson’s hand-picked orchestra at the Proms.

John has given many solo performances with the BBC Philharmonic, with highlights including the Mozart, Nielsen, Stanford and MacMillan Concertos. His recordings for Chandos include the Busoni Concertino, Malcolm Arnold “Scherzetto” (Editor’s Choice in “The Gramophone”) and Ben-Haim Pastorale variée. His celebrated Naxos disc “The English Clarinet” remains a best-seller, followed in 2023 by “From the Airwaves” on the MPR label.

John was awarded Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Music in 2018.

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