Anthony Friend is a clarinettist with diverse musical interests, active as a solo, chamber and orchestral musician. His playing has been praised as “particularly fine” (Seen and Heard International) and “delicious” (The Times).

Anthony studied first at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge before completing his master’s at the Royal Academy of Music, and has played under notable conductors including Semyon Bychkov and Edward Gardner. Anthony has performed at major venues across the UK and abroad, including the Barbican, Sage Gateshead, Mariinsky 2 and the St Petersburg Philharmonia, and has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4. In 2016, Anthony performed with Charles Hazlewood’s orchestra, Army of Generals, broadcast on BBC Four television.

Anthony studied composition with Sinan Savaskan and Robin Holloway, and regularly performs new works and twentieth-century repertoire. Anthony played Terry Riley’s In C at King’s Place with renowned piano duo Katia and Marielle Labèque, and, as part of a side-by-side scheme, performed Messiaen’s last completed work Éclairs sur l’au-delà with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Thierry Fischer.

Aside from his orchestral performing, Anthony is co-founder of Filthy Lucre, an immersive and mixed-genre music night, which has recently received funding from Arts Council England. Anthony further explores his chamber work as a member of Ensemble x.y which won Nonclassical’s Battle of the Bands 2016, and is resident at Kingston University, Hassfest in Armenia and Musikfest Erzgebirge in Germany.


What do you love about classical music?
One of the things I love about classical music is simply how much of it there is, and how much variety: it’s 1000 years of all the music that has been good enough to stand the test of time. That also means it’s ridiculous to generalise it all into one genre. I think ‘classical music’ as opposed to ‘popular music’ has a kind of generality about it which means anyone can listen to a piece and have a hugely powerful emotional response to it, without (as in lots of pop music I like) having to feel that they can ‘relate’ to the music through the subject matter of its lyrics.

What’s on your playlist right now?
I tend to listen to a few albums very obsessively for a while and then move on. This means I won’t have a very eclectic mix of stuff at any one time, and you’ve caught me in the middle of a Bach phase: Keyboard Concertos by Murray Perahia and Academy of St Martinin the Fields, and solo violin music by Isabelle Faust. Last week I was revisiting some of the albums I loved as a teenager – the first two albums by New York band The Strokes.

What is your favourite piece of music, and why do you love it?
Even though I had music around me at home as a kid, I didn’t really make classical music my own until around 17, when on a whim I picked a CD off the shelf and listened to it quite late at night. It was Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, and there was the most unbelievably heart wrenching slow movement. It was probably the most profound musical experience I’d had to date, and that piece along with all the late Mozart piano concertos are still amongst my favourite music.