Duncan Druce lives in West Yorkshire . He has pursued a highly varied career, as performer, composer, BBC music producer and University and College lecturer. He was for many years the violinist/violist in Peter Maxwell Davies’ Fires of London and has premiered new works by Birtwistle, Henze, Morton Feldman and many others. He has also been a pioneer in the exploration of the baroque and classical repertoires, using instruments and playing techniques of the period. His compositions, including chamber, orchestral and choral works, have been widely performed and broadcast. He has completed a number of Mozart fragments including the first movement of the Mozart Bb Clarinet Quintet. His completion of the Mozart Requiem is published by Novello and has twice been recorded commercially - every basset horn player should twist the arm of their local choir’s musical director to procure the opportunity to play this. It’s worth it for the Benedictus alone.
Alan Hacker studied the Clarinet in London, France, Germany and Austria before joining the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 19 and being appointed professor at the Royal Academy of Music. He has an international reputation as a performer, a champion of both new music and of the classical revival. In the 1960s, he was a founder member of the Pierrot Players, the Fires of London and Matrix. As a champion of performance of classical composition on period instruments he restored the Mozart Clarinet Concerto and Quintet to their original form, using the extended Basset Clarinet which he had specially made for this purpose and which has since been used by Birtwhistle, Davies, Mancini and others.
In the 70s, came the Music Party which gained an international reputation both in the Concert Hall and on record. Whilst a senior lecturer at York University, he inaugurated the Early Music Festival and formed a classical orchestra which under his direction gave first performances of the classics on original instruments. He conducted in Opera Houses and Concert Halls throughout Europe although he by no means forsook his first love and has been known to combine conducting and concerto performance in the same concert. He recorded widely, his recording of the Mozart Clarinet Quintet still listed as the best twenty years after its completion and a number of works were written written for him, including an opera by Harrison Birtwhistle accompanied by clarinet and strings in which he played and conducted simultaneously. Birtwhistle once said Alan was the reason he became a composer. As a student he was studying clarinet and composition when one day he heard Alan, a fellow student playing the Mozart Clarinet Quintet so beautifully that he decided not to compete and concentrate on composing.
William Mann in a Times review concluded that " he has something uncommon, fresh and very musical to bring to us. He is without doubt our clarinet player hors concour, a musician to be treasured in our midst" Within his busy timetable, he has always made time to work with other musicians, amateur and professional, as an inspirational teacher and mentor and those of us who are privileged to know him certainly treasured his friendship as was overwhelmingly demonstrated at his funeral. where a choir of the great and good of the clarinet profession played his setting of “The death of Ase” by Grieg and William Sweeneys “Cha b’an grad”
William Sweeney is Glaswegian by birth, and the two inspirations of either traditional Gaelic music or Jazz or both are seldom far away in any of his works which encompass Instrumental, Chamber, Orchestral, Choral and Opera. Among his most recent works are a Clarinet Quintet, “Sweeney Astray” for Concert Wind Band, the film score for An Iobart (The Sacrifice) for which he won a Scottish BAFTA award. and Airc an dualchais (Inheritance Ark) commissioned for the opening of the new Museum of Scotland. The opera An Turus was premiered in 1998 by the Paragon Ensemble.
Professionally a scientist/manager, his hobby has been music of all kinds. He played the clarinet in school and youth orchestras but under the influence of Humph and Armstrong recordings began to develop an interest in jazz. At university, jazz took over and he formed a sextet that for the next ten years played successfully in venues around Yorkshire and in London, including the well known Lyttleton Club. The band eventually broke up when their careers separated them. He then slowly returned to his first love and played with amateur/semi-pro orchestras in York and Harrogate, developing an interest first in playing chamber music and then for thirty odd years in arranging and publishing chamber music and organising residential events under the banner of NorviK Music.