John Payne

John Payne with his Peter Eaton Elite clarinet John Payne was Principal Clarinet with the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden for many years, retiring in 2018. He joined the orchestra at the age of twenty-five, following a short period with the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra, and was appointed Principal in 1992. During his career John has worked with the world's most renowned conductors and singers and taken part in many notable performances, including such highlights as Der Ring des Nibelungen and Die Meistersinger with Bernard Haitink, Otello and La Bohème with Carlos Kleiber, and Der Rosenkavalier with Solti. John has made many recordings, most prominently a recording of Parto, Parto from La Clemenza di Tito on the Mozart Experience CD (BMG/Conifer), played on Peter Eaton Elite clarinets, and has taken part in tours to Japan, Korea, New York, Amsterdam, Rome, Paris, Finland, Germany etc.

Recordings with the Royal Opera have included Tosca with Pappano, Gheorghiu and Alagna, Die Meistersinger with Haitink and Tristan und Isolde with Pappano.

John was a founder member of the Soloists of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, with which he has performed at the Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room and the Alice Tully Hall in New York. John is married to a professional flautist and has two daughters.

John Payne has played Peter Eaton Elite clarinets since 1994 and wrote, shortly afterwards, "I thought that I'd put in writing how much I'm enjoying these instruments now that I'm settling down on them. I'm especially pleased with the accuracy of intonation and overall pitch, which makes them very comfortable to play on in the Opera House Orchestra. The combination of this and the bigger sound I'm now getting gives me a feeling of being liberated, after fighting the limited dynamic range available on my old instruments. I am confident now that if a conductor asks for more, it is there, in reserve. The feedback from other players has been uniformly positive too, which is very gratifying. It has made for great unanimity in the section, with three of us using Peter Eaton clarinets."

"In 2006 I decided that it was time to look for new pair of instruments. I wasn't particularly unhappy with my current instruments, although they were 12 years old they were in very good condition and the tuning had remained quite stable. Nevertheless, I felt it was an appropriate time in my career to look for new instruments, so I was interested to see how Peter's instruments had developed.

I wasn't sure I'd actually be able to improve on what I had but the new instruments are better in every way. Peter has subtly improved the intonation, although that was always a strong point of his instruments, so much so that I risked playing the B flat in a performance of Eugene Onegin the day after I collected it. Onegin is a tricky piece for intonation but the new instrument was so accurately tuned I had no problems; I'm never embarrassed by a low E for one thing! I love the new A too; it has just the right combination of mellowness and brightness in the sound. I owe a lot to Peter for making instruments that make my job enjoyable and relatively stress free."

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