Born in London, John Cushing grew up in Liverpool. He began playing the clarinet at the age of thirteen and, after leaving school, studied with Sidney Fell at the Royal Manchester College of Music, where he was awarded the Hiles Medal. He later continued his studies in London with John McCaw.
After five years as Principal Clarinet with the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera, John was appointed Principal Clarinet with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in April 1978, a post he held until September 2014, 36 very happy and fulfilling years. Since joining he has appeared as soloist with the Orchestra on many occasions, and has an extensive Concerto repertoire, including James Macmillan’s clarinet concerto “Ninian,” which was written for and dedicated to him in 1998. John performed premieres of Ninian in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London and later around the UK, as well as on tour in Bergen, Norway. He made the world première recording of the work with the RSNO and Alexander Lazarev. He was delighted to perform the piece in Scotland again in 2014 with RSNO after a period of 16 years and thrilled that new audiences responded to it so enthusiastically. In other concertos John has appeared as soloist with conductors as diverse as Rattle, Berglund, Bamert, Gibson, Jane Glover, Takuo Yuasa, Weller, Lazarev, Walker and many others.
In the past few years, John has given several other World and Scottish première performances of works for solo clarinet and chamber ensemble, including pieces by Sweeney, John Adams, Ted Kirk and again James Macmillan, this time a piece for clarinet alone - From Galloway which is also again dedicated to him.
As a guest orchestral player John has performed as Principal clarinet with many of the British symphony orchestras.
John Cushing has a particular interest in chamber and contemporary music. Over the years he has been a member of and played with groups as diverse as Paragon, Allander and Hebrides Ensembles, has worked with many string quartets and the clarinet, soprano and piano trio Vocalise. He is currently busy in the Phoenix wind trio with Katherine Bryan (flute) and David Hubbard (bassoon) as well as the wind quintet Primi whose players are members of both the RSNO and Halle.
John has taught clarinet at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (formerly the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama) since 1978 and gives masterclasses and recitals throughout the country, primarily with pianist Scott Mitchell. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from RCS in July 2014 and is the recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society Salomon Prize 2015.
Juliet Colville studied clarinet at the Royal Northern College of Music with Nicholas Cox, Linda Merrick and Colin Pownall (bass clarinet). She was awarded a Major Entrance Award from the RNCM to continue her studies and graduated with a Master of Music in 2006. As a student Juliet was the leader of the National Youth Wind Orchestra for 2 years, playing in concerts around the UK and in Ireland. Since graduating Juliet has worked with orchestras including the Hallé Orchestra and the National Concert Orchestra. She spent four years as the clarinet, tenor saxophone and flute player for the Thursford Christmas Spectacular with whom she made several TV broadcasts including for BBC Songs of Praise. She has also performed as a deputy on the South Pacific UK tour and for Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along for Theatre Clwyd. Juliet also enjoys recitals and education work with her reed trio, the Arundo Trio as well as being in demand as a woodwind teacher in the North West. Juliet has been a tutor on the Harrogate Clarinet Summer School since its first year.
Juliet also performs with various other ensembles including the British Clarinet Ensemble and St Clements Wind Ensemble.
John Alley is the Principal Keyboard Player of the London Symphony Orchestra. Born in London, he began his musical training as a chorister of Westminster Abbey, thereafter studying piano at the Guildhall School of Music with James Gibb. Starting out as an accompanist and chamber musician, some time passed before he found himself working as an orchestral pianist. In this role he has played with most of the British orchestras along with many of the top chamber ensembles; notably The London Sinfonietta and The Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
John Alley has taken part in over one hundred Proms over the last quarter century, playing Stravinsky's Petroushka four times, Bartok Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste three times, Les Noces on the night of the Royal wedding in 1981 and just about every other piece with an orchestral piano part, at least once! During this time he has been privileged to work with many of the 20th century's major composer/conductors, including Boulez, Berio, Benjamin, Henze, Karl Jenkins, Kurtag, Lutoswaski and Oliver Knussen.
There has been also an occasional 'solo' contribution and a minor sensation occurred in the performance of 'Suite for the Hypothetically Murdered' in 1992 when he drank a pint of beer in the middle of a cadenza!
He has recorded extensively for television, radio and disc. The association with Nigel Gomm has been very fruitful and has produced upwards of forty CDs with John Alley as accompanist.