James Meldrum is fast establishing himself as an exciting and versatile clarinettist in the UK and Europe. After gaining both a first class BMus (hons) degree and an Advanced PGDip with Distinction from the Royal College of Music, London, he is currently holding the position of principal clarinet with the New European Ensemble in The Hague and is pursuing a busy career as an orchestral and chamber musician as well as a recital and concerto soloist.
While studying James held a Foundation and Postgraduate scholarship from the RCM and also held the MBF Music Education Award, MBF Ian Flemming Award, Countess of Munster Musical Trust Award, and the Wilkins-Mackerras Scholarship.
After winning his first orchestral trial at the age of 20 James, has played with the Philharmonia Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra and the London Chamber Orchestra as well as being guest principal clarinet with international orchestras including Iceland Symphony Orchestra, de Filharmonie Antwerpen, the Young Janacek Philharmonic and the Kazakhstan Philhamonic Orchestras. He has collaborated with many renowned musicians including Levon Chilingirian, the Medici Quartet, Susan Danial, Melvin Tan and Liz Watts and has worked with composers including Helmut Lachenmann, Mauricio Kagel, Oliver Knussen, Magnus Lindberg, Kaija Saariaho and Joseph Horovits.
As an avid chamber musician, James has performed all over the world and regularly works with Ensemble 360 (Sheffield), the Cavaleri Quartet and the Winterbrook Trio, and was featured in a Dutch prime time television series exploring contemporary music.
Recent engagements have included concerto performances of John Adam's Gnarly Buttons in the Netherlands with the NJO Summer Academy, Aaron Copland's Clarinet Concerto with John Wilson in Cadogan Hall, London, Finzi's Clarinet Concerto and Mozart's clarinet concerto with the Orpheus Sinfonia and the Firebird Orchestra with Achim Holub. As a recitalist and chamber musician James has performed in nearly all of the UK's main festivals including the BBC Proms, the Cheltenham and Oxford international festivals as well as on international radio and television.
questions & amswers
Which pieces got you interested in new music?
Playing Berio’a Sequenza IXa and also works by Thea Musgrave. Really challenging composers. Their pieces stand out for their theatrical sense and the drama they can create.
I also love Mauricio Kagel’s music. His Stücke der Windrose, which I got to play for him, really changed my thinking on contemporary music. It was the first time I really enjoyed playing new music and tackling the challenges in my part, for example singing while playing.
What makes playing new music in the New European Ensemble satisfying and worthwhile?
The interaction between a small group of people who all have their own ideas, which makes the final result considered and means something to all that are playing.
Your non-classical top 5?
Miles Davis: Kind of Blue
Alicia Keys: New York
Thicke: Blurred Lines
Adele: Chasing Pavements
Procol harum: Whiter Shade of Pale
meet our members
Hanna Shybayeva piano
Rada Ovcharova violin
Mihkel Kerem violin
Emlyn Stam viola
Willem Stam cello
Ryan Linham trumpet
Annamia Larsson horn
Lars Karlin trombone
Felicia van den End flute
Christopher Bouwman oboe
James Meldrum clarinet
Ryanne Hofman bass clarinet
Jose ‘Pepe’ Garcia Rodriguez percussion
Wim Vos percussion
listen & watch
Stücke der Windrose: osten
james’ top 5
New European Ensemble is supported by Fonds Podiumkunsten (from 2017) and the city of The Hague