In Conversation

Craig Hill

Basset Clarinet Craig Hill discusses his lifelong love affair with the clarinet, demonstrates his rare instrument and performs an excerpt from Mozart's sublime Concerto for basset clarinet in A major, K 622


Mozart’s bright and beguiling basset clarinet concerto was the composer’s final instrumental work, which he completed less than two months before his early death at thirty-five. Craig Hill, Australia’s leading period clarinettist, spoke with the Brandenburg about this beloved concerto.

After formative studies with Phillip Miechel at the Victorian College of the Arts, Craig was a recipient of a German Academic Exchange Scholarship completing studies with Dieter Kloecker at the Freiburg Musikhochschule in 1991.

Following his solo debut on period clarinet with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra in 1997, Craig has appeared at festivals throughout Australia, the United States and Denmark. Regular seasons as the Brandenburg’s Principal Clarinet and performances as Guest Principal with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Antipodes have become a favourite feature of his calendar. His live recording of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto with the Brandenburg under the direction of Artistic Director Paul Dyer has been released by ABC Classics.

From 2004 -2009,  Craig was a Guest Principal Clarinet of the period instrument orchestra Concerto CopenhagenUnder the direction of Lars Ulrik Mortensen, he gave over twenty performances of the celebrated clarinet solos in Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito at the Royal Danish Opera, as well as joining the orchestra in the recording studio and as a guest of the chamber music festival 'Vinter- Klassik' at the Garnison Church in Copenhagen.

In April 2009, he directed a mini-festival of period instrument chamber music, Concertino Copenhagen, which brought together musicians from Australia and Europe for concerts at the newly opened Melbourne Recital Centre. In 2010, Craig toured nationally as a guest artist with the ACO, performing chamber works by Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms on instruments of each period to critical acclaim. He is a founding member of The Friends of Eusebius and Florestanan ensemble dedicated to the performance of nineteenth-century chamber music on period instruments.

On modern (Boehm-system) clarinet he has been a member of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra since 1992.  He is equally at home on the German system clarinets of Oskar Oehler, as well as the Baermann-Ottensteiner system and period clarinets with six to twelve keys.


Biography: Craig Hill
Image Credit: James Braund