Anthony McGill, Principal Clarinet
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All concerts and events through June 13, 2021 are cancelled. Learn more about our response to COVID-19. Support the Philharmonic by donating your tickets.
Anthony McGill

Anthony McGill joined the New York Philharmonic as Principal Clarinet, The Edna and W. Van Alan Clark Chair, in September 2014, becoming the Philharmonic’s first African American Principal player. Hailed for his “trademark brilliance, penetrating sound and rich character” (The New York Times) and “exquisite combination of technical refinement and expressive radiance” (The Baltimore Sun), he is recognized as one of the classical music world’s finest solo, chamber, and orchestral musicians. Mr. McGill also serves as an ardent advocate for helping music education reach underserved communities and for addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in classical music. He took part in the inauguration of President Barack Obama, premiering a piece written for the occasion by John Williams alongside violinist Itzhak Perlman, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and pianist Gabriela Montero.

Anthony McGill’s 2019–20 season includes a premiere by Tyshawn Sorey at 92nd Street Y and a collaboration with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato at Carnegie Hall. He will also perform the Copland Clarinet Concerto at the Kennedy Center’s SHIFT Festival of American Orchestras with the Jacksonville Symphony as well as concertos by Copland, Mozart, and Danielpour with the Richmond, Delaware, Alabama, Reno, and San Antonio symphony orchestras. Additional collaborations include programs with Gloria Chien, Demarre McGill, Michael McHale, Anna Polonsky, Arnaud Sussman, and the Pacifica Quartet.

Anthony McGill appears regularly as a soloist with top orchestras around North America, including the New York Philharmonic, The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, San Diego Symphony, and Kansas City Symphony. As a chamber musician, he is a favorite collaborator of the Brentano, Daedalus, Guarneri, JACK, Miró, Pacifica, Shanghai, Takacs, and Tokyo Quartets, as well as Emanuel Ax, Inon Barnatan, Gloria Chien, Yefim Bronfman, Gil Shaham, Midori, Mitsuko Uchida, and Lang Lang. He has led tours with Musicians from Marlboro and regularly performs for The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. Festival appearances include Tanglewood, Marlboro, Mainly Mozart, and Music@Menlo as well as the Santa Fe, Seattle, and Skaneateles Chamber Music Festivals.

In January 2015, McGill recorded Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto with the New York Philharmonic, led by then Music Director Alan Gilbert, released on Dacapo Records. He also recorded two albums released by Cedille Records: one with his brother, Seattle Symphony principal flute Demarre McGill, and pianist Michael McHale, and the other featuring the Mozart and Brahms Clarinet Quintets with the Pacifica Quartet.

A dedicated champion of new music, Anthony McGill premiered Richard Danielpour’s From the Mountaintop in 2014, written for him and commissioned by the New Jersey Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, and Orchestra 2001. He served as the 2015–16 Artist-in-Residence for WQXR and has appeared on Performance Today, MPR’s Saint Paul Sunday, and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. In 2013 he appeared on NBC Nightly News and MSNBC in stories about the McGill brothers.

A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, Anthony McGill previously served as principal clarinet of The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and associate principal clarinet of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. In-demand as a teacher, he serves on the faculty of The Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the Bard College Conservatory of Music. He also serves as artistic director of the Music Advancement Program at Juilliard, on the Board of Directors for both the League of American Orchestras and the Harmony Program, and on the advisory council for the InterSchool Orchestras of New York.

“Performing at President Obama's inauguration was a highlight of my life and career. It was surreal seeing a million people on the National Mall in a moment that would be important for the rest of time. I was extremely proud and inspired.”

Q&A with Anthony McGill

THE FACTS: Born in Chicago, Illinois. Bachelor of music from the Curtis Institute of Music. Prior to the Philharmonic: principal clarinet of The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Current teaching posts: The Juilliard School, Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University, Bard College Conservatory of Music, Manhattan School of Music, and Curtis Institute of Music. Most recent recordings: Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto with the New York Philharmonic, and Brahms and Mozart Clarinet Quintets with the Pacifica Quartet. At the Philharmonic: Joined September 2014.

MOST INSPIRING COMPOSERS? Mozart and Brahms: they wrote the greatest music for clarinet. Mozart’s music touches every realm of possibility and genius.

WHAT’S YOUR EARLIEST MUSICAL MEMORY? My brother, Demarre, practicing flute: he was seven and I was three. I wanted to be just like him. I started clarinet at nine and asked my mom if I could switch to flute, but she refused: she didn’t want us competing. He was my earliest mentor — and is now principal flute of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

WHAT WAS THE FIRST PIECE OF MUSIC YOU FELL IN LOVE WITH? Copland’s Clarinet Concerto, when I was 11. I’d go to bed listening to the recording.

TELL US ABOUT PERFORMING AT PRESIDENT OBAMA’S INAUGURATION ALONGSIDE YO-YO MA, ITZHAK PERLMAN, AND GABRIELA MONTERO: It was a highlight of my life and career. It was surreal seeing a million people on the National Mall in a moment that would be important for the rest of time. I was extremely proud and inspired.

WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO BE ON MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD WITH YOUR BROTHER WHEN YOU WERE 15? I was a huge Mister Rogers fan growing up. I felt like I already knew him: he was just the same as he was on TV.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT WITH THE PHILHARMONIC? Playing Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto in my Philharmonic solo debut. I was excited, nervous, and grateful. I first performed it when I was 15 at Interlochen, where I won the concerto competition. Coming back to it years later was like meeting an old friend: you’ve changed, but the love and challenges are familiar.

WHAT ARE YOU READING RIGHT NOW? I just finished Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, about shame resilience. I talk about this idea with my students: if you’re upfront with your insecurities, you can accept them and free yourself to develop more confidence and dare greatly — as a person and as a musician.

As of May 2016
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