Metropolitan Opera Principal Clarinetist Headed to New York Philharmonic

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - 05:00 PM

For the New York Philharmonic, it may be a case of third time's a charm.

The orchestra is to announce shortly that Anthony McGill, the co-principal clarinetist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra since 2004, will become its next principal clarinetist. The position was held by Stanley Drucker from 1948 to 2009, and has been vacant since.

WQXR has exclusively learned that McGill will take a leave of absence from the Met to play with the Philharmonic next season. The opera company confirmed the move on Tuesday.

The Philharmonic's search for a successor to Drucker has been unusually fraught. In April 2011, the orchestra hired Ricardo Morales, principal clarinetist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, but he resigned before officially starting on the job, citing family reasons. Then, last year, the orchestra lured Chicago Symphony principal clarinetist Stephen Williamson away from his job. He too changed his mind, also citing family reasons.

The 34-year-old McGill is a familiar presence at Lincoln Center, and – Philharmonic officials undoubtedly hope – a steadfast one. (In an e-mail, McGill declined to comment on the new position.)

McGill is a rare clarinetist to have built an active solo career along with his main orchestra job. He was thrust into the spotlight in 2009, when he performed at the inauguration of President Barack Obama, joining Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and Gabriela Montero in John Williams's Air and Simple Gifts. McGill has recently performed as a soloist with the Baltimore, New Jersey and San Diego Symphonies, and has given numerous recitals.

Recently, McGill has been expanding his chamber music credentials, touring with the Pacifica Quartet, as seen in a WQXR Cafe Concert taped last November. Prior to the Met, he was the associate principal clarinetist of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, a job he won shortly after graduating from the elite Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

McGill's first season with the Philharmonic begins in September. Among his assignments will be to record Carl Nielsen's Clarinet Concerto, a long-delayed initiative that's part of the Philharmonic's "Nielsen Project."


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Comments [10]

Bob H from North Babylon, New York

Great choice - excellent player. The Met's loss is the Philharmonic's gain. It must be daunting to fill the shoes of the greatest clarinetist of all time.

May. 16 2014 02:23 PM

Mr. McGill,


You are indeed an inspiration and your industry warrants you having such an illustrious position.

Soli Deo gloria,

May. 15 2014 06:50 PM
Sibern from Brooklyn

For the life of me I can't understand why Marc Nuccio won't be appointed to the Phils first clarinet chair. He's been their acing 1st Chair player
(and he doesn't act when he plays) ever since Stanley Drucker left. I just
don't understand orchestral policy.

May. 15 2014 08:43 AM
klaridude from Bronx

Congratulations? If the NYP is indeed a step up from the Met under Levine with the best singers in the world night after night generation after generation. The NYP is transitioning, but the Met is under intense labor negotiations for salary cuts. I wonder if McGill will stay at the NYP after his leave-of-absence from the Met, once the Met has resolved its labor issues. In any case, gone are the days when a principal player stays at one orchestra for life.

May. 15 2014 07:14 AM
NYMike from Manhattan

The Phil could've saved themselves a lot of wasted time and energy by hiring McGill when Drucker retired. Besides coming to national attention during Obama's first inaugural, he was already doing fine chamber work. I heard him play with the Guarneri String Quartet during their Met Museum series years ago. He was terrific!

May. 14 2014 01:11 PM
linda e. from New York


May. 14 2014 11:19 AM

Congratulations to Mr. McGill and the NY Philharmonic!

This is great news for the NY Philharmonic, for NY classical concertgoers and for classical music in general. Mr. McGill is a proven musician having performed with and in some of this nation's premiere venues. He has big shoes to fill however in following Stanley Drucker as principal clarinetist of the NY Philharmonic. Mr. Drucker is still a legendary player and I will long remember his artistry. There should be little wonderment that it took so long to find a successor to him. Mr. McGill will be immediately thrown into the frying pan, so to speak, by having to record a pillar of the clarinet concerto repertoire, the Nielsen Concerto. I'm looking forward to hearing the results.

May. 14 2014 10:28 AM
Lauren Wagner from NY

This is such beautiful playing. Thank you for sharing this.

May. 14 2014 07:50 AM
diana nichols

Well done, Anthony! Best wishes!

May. 14 2014 02:14 AM

Announcement from the NYPO will be coming on Wednesday in the New York Times.

May. 13 2014 09:36 PM

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