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Biography

Clarinettist John Finucane, who has been Principal Clarinet with Ireland’s RTE National Symphony Orchestra since 1995, has also had an active career as a soloist, chamber musician and conductor in Ireland and abroad. Described by Gramophone magazine as ‘an outstanding virtuoso’, on the release of his CD “Clarinet Variations,” he has worked with the Ulysses Ensemble, the Irish Chamber Orchestra, Welsh National Opera, Opera North and Irish Film Orchestras. He has appeared regularly on radio and on television programmes, including RTE’s The Symphony Sessions and Britain’s The South Bank Show. He has a particular affinity to chamber music and has worked with many groups, including the Ysaye, the Navarra and the Vanbrugh Quartets.

John Finucane is also a conductor of note, having studied with Janus Furst and Albert Rosen amongst others, and has regularly conducted the highly regarded RTE Concert Orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra and Opera Theatre Company. He was one of the founders of the Dublin Chamber Orchestra and has been the Musical Director of the Hibernian Orchestra for nearly thirty years. Despite his hugely busy life as a performing artist and conductor, John has found the time to join the faculty of the Royal Irish Academy of Music. His many tours have included China, as a soloist as well as with the National Chamber Ensemble of Ireland and Academy Chamber Ensemble performing to sell-out audiences. John recently finished conducting the music for a forthcoming film, Storm in the Stars – with music by Amelia Warner, arranged and orchestrated by Nathan Klein, and recorded in Windmill Lane Studios, Dublin. This follows conducting the music for a John Boorman film called “In My Country” in 2004.

He is a D’Addario Woodwinds Performing Artist.

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“Once considered unplayable, Francaix's concerto is delivered with fluency and rich colour... A delight from first note to last...”
Classical Music Magazine
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Repertoire

John has performed most of the standard repertoire for clarinet and piano including Sonatas by Brahms, Saint-Saēns, Stanford, Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Bernstein, the Fantasy Sonata by John Ireland, the Theme and Variations of Françaix and, of course, the Sonatina by Malcolm Arnold. 

Other composers include Howard Ferguson, Arthur Benjamin, Thomas Dunhill and Gerald Finzi, Grovlez and Pierné as well as the Irish composer, Gerald Barry, who wrote his “Low” for John and also Chris Moriarty, a clarinet student of his, who dedicated his composition “Opaque Rhapsodie” to him. 

He has developed a reputation for showy virtuoso performances which have included Giampieri’s Carnival of Venice and the opera fantasias by Bassi and Lovreglio. 

With orchestra he has performed many solo works including the two concertos of Weber as well as the Concertino, concertos by Mozart, Spohr, Stamitz, Stanford, Nielsen, Françaix, Arnold and Copland, the Rossini ‘Introduction, Theme and Variations’ and the Debussy Premiére Rhapsodie. Irish works include music by Archie Potter and Brian Boydell, a concerto by James Wilson (written for him), another by Robert Lamb, premiered by John in Dublin. 

Chamber music of all genres have always been a part of his life having been a founder member of the Ulysses Ensemble and is currently a member of the chamber ensemble of the Royal Irish Academy of Music. 

He is about to record the three Sonatas of Grigori Frid this coming August. 

Listen to recordings