Eastern Mennonite University

Les Nicholas

Les Nicholas, clarinetist, produces “A sound like liquid gold…” (Eleanor Hood – Cameo Concerts) aptly describes the playing of clarinetist Leslie Nicholas. He has appeared as principal clarinetist from Alice Tully Hall at New York’s Lincoln Center to Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Across Europe he has performed from Oslo to Palermo in opera, orchestra, chamber music and solo roles.

Mr. Nicholas has been principal clarinetist of New York’s Classic Chamber Orchestra, the West Virginia Symphony, the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, ProMusica Columbus, the Dallas Chamber Orchestra, Central City Opera and the New York Harlem Opera (Europe). He has performed with Washington’s National Chamber Players, the Aspen Festival Orchestra, the Round Top Festival Institute, the Grand Teton and Coronado Music Festivals, the AIMS Festival in Austria and Italy, the Garth Newel Music Center, and the Wintergreen Festival where he was also Director of the Performance Academy.

With the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival and the 2010 American Prize winning Lancaster Festival Orchestra he has appeared in principal and solo roles for over two decades. He was a featured artist at The International Clarinet Association’s conference at Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music and again as guest with the U.S. Naval Academy Band Quartet in a premiere dedicated to him for the 2002 University of Oklahoma Clarinet Symposium. More recently Nicholas may be heard in solo roles supporting recording artist Richard Stoltzman on a new CD of the music of Pulitzer Prize and multiple Grammy award winning composer, William Bolcom, released in the spring, 2009.

Les Nicholas also devotes much of his time to performing chamber music, with notable collaborators including artists Anton Kuerti, William Preucil, Jon Kimura Parker, Stephen Clapp, Susan Starr, David Shifrin, Christopher O’Riley, Cary Lewis, Yolanda Kondonassis, James VanDemark, the Veronika String Quartet of Moscow, Jeremy Wall, and many others. As a constant champion of new music, Nicholas has premiered dozens of new works; from the International Conference of the College Music Society in Vienna, to premieres written specifically for him and his ensembles in this country. His trio d’anches, WindRose, continues to perform the virtuosic repertoire of the early twentieth century. Their many appearances include performances in Vienna and at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London. Additionally, Mr. Nicholas has toured as a member of both the Pastiche and the Blair Woodwind Quintets.

A dedicated teacher as well as performer, Mr. Nicholas’ early appointment to Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music has led to nearly twenty years of helping young people through music. Beyond that first post, he has served on the applied faculties of Capital, Radford and James Madison Universities, at Kenyon College, as chamber music coordinator-coach for The American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, and as Woodwind Area Coordinator and Visiting Lecturer in Clarinet at Georgia State University. In 2003 Mr. Nicholas joined the faculty of the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan, and in 2006 he was named Artist in Residence with America’s premiere theatre-salon orchestra, The Bijou. With the group Musica Harmonia he has traveled to Brazil in 2007, and again in 2008, giving concerts and master-classes at the Federal Universities of Joao Pessoa and Natal.

Trained by members of the San Antonio, Dallas, Cincinnati, Chicago and Cleveland Orchestras, Les Nicholas’ principal teachers have included Leland Munger, Steve Girko, Carmine Campione, Clark Brody, Larry Combs – and most notably the legendary Robert Marcellus, his mentor for many years. Mr. Nicholas holds performance degrees cum laude from the University of Texas and Northwestern University, with additional graduate study at Southern Methodist University and post-graduate study at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music.
Les Nicholas is presently on the applied faculty at Eastern Mennonite University and often appears elsewhere as a guest artist and clinician. His current projects include recordings, recitals, master-classes and work on acoustical improvements to the clarinet. When not performing or teaching, Les can usually be found cycling about the countryside with his wife, violinist Joan Griffing, and their young son, Breton. www.lesnicholas.com