Principal Cor Anglais Henry Clay

Chair acknowledgement in memory of a dear friend, Fiona H.

When did you join the RSNO?
I joined the RSNO in July 2019.

Where are you from?
I grew up in Tunbridge Wells and also lived in Taiwan for a few years when I was younger.

Where did you study?
I studied at Royal Northern College of Music and the University of Manchester before continuing as a postgraduate at the Royal Academy of Music in London. I had such brilliant teachers during my studies.

What do you enjoy most about being in the RSNO?
The people. It might sound like a copy and paste answer, but it’s so true! Playing incredible music with such amazing musicians every week is so inspiring.

Tell us your favourite RSNO story/memory so far.
I haven’t been with the Orchestra for very long, but the performances of Ein Heldenleben and Götterdämmerung at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival will stay with me for a long time!

The sun and sea when the Orchestra toured to Florida a few years ago was also a highlight!

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not playing with the Orchestra?
I play badminton as much as I can and I’m dipping my toe into trying to keep a handful of plants alive. I’m also looking forward to trying some of the beautiful walks in Scotland.

Do you have any hidden talents?
This DEFINITELY does not count as a hidden talent, or an actual talent for that matter, but I can lick my elbow. It’s a pretty useless party trick!

An actual hidden talent I wish I had is to be able to speak another language.

If you could have dinner with anyone (alive or dead) who would it be, and why?
Perhaps Van Gogh. I’ve always loved his paintings and a few years ago I went to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. I had never experienced anything like it before, I was totally transfixed and could have spent the whole day there. I would also love to see his reaction to modern art. Maybe he could do a quick portrait of everyone?

Either him or the actress Miriam Margolyes. She’s interesting, absolutely hilarious and would be great fun at a party!

You’re stranded on a desert island. You’re allowed 3 CDs and 1 book. What would they be, and why?
Hard to choose!! I’d definitely have a Sibelius symphony there, maybe No. 6 or 7. I just think his music is so beautiful and I somehow never get bored listening to him. Would a CD of his complete works be cheating???

My second CD would be something like the Concerto Grossi by Handel on period instruments. The baroque oboe has a really characteristic sound and is so different to the modern oboe. I also find that Handel’s music has such a range of emotions and there are some really exciting recordings out there!

For my last CD I would pick something very different such as the best of Nina Simone, her voice is so soulful.

I would have to take a book that was pretty long and something I could get my teeth into when I’m bored collecting coconuts on my island. I do like a good Stephen King book.