Garry Clarke, baroque violin, joined New Trinity Baroque in 2006. He has recently come to notice as one of the UK's finest interpreters of baroque music - he is Artistic Director of The 18th Century Concert Orchestra "one of the finest exponents of baroque music in the country" and performs with groups including The Academy of Ancient Music, The Sixteen, The Hanover Band and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. With these ensembles he has toured all over the world - North and South America, Canada, Japan, India, Macau, Hong Kong, Korea, Turkey, Greece and throughout Europe. He has been part of many recordings and broadcasts and has made numerous appearances on film and television. Garry's early forays into baroque music were made with the help of the performer and eminent musicologist Peter Holman, then with John Holloway and Catherine Mackintosh at The Royal College of Music in London. Further grounding came with his acceptance into the European Baroque Orchestra where he worked with Ton Koopman and Roy Goodman and continued violin studies with Michaela Comberti. He toured throughout Europe with the EBO before working on a variety of projects with William Christie and the French ensemble Les Arts Florrisants.
As a boy, Garry Clarke wanted to be many things but a baroque violinist wasn't one of them. At eight, he dreamed of being a professional footballer (soccer player), and what little boy didn't? It was a big disappointment for him to discover he was too short and fat for soccer and that when teams were picked, he was always the last chosen. But he worked hard on this and by the age of 14 had managed to slim down, get some athletic ability (although he was still always last in the cross country races), and get a regular goalkeeping position with the local Boys Brigade team - the runaway league champions. As goalies were in short supply, he was even being picked first for the school teams. This is probably when he learned his first important life lesson and the reason that he eventually did become a baroque violinist: supply and demand.
Mr. Clarke also considered a career on the stage as an actor but, having played the ultimate role of God in a 1970s school production of Captain Noah and His Floating Zoo, (a role which required much of its delivery sung from off-stage), he thought that Hollywood would be simply unable to afford him.
How about an angelic choir boy? After three failed attempts to get into the Junior School Choir, we can give Mr. Clarke full marks for perseverance (but not, at that stage, for his singing skills although these improved considerably over time). He also wondered about a career in clairvoyancy but could see no future in it (although he could name musical notes by just hearing them).
So, after regular schooling came drama school, and music college, where there came a sudden flash of light, like a bolt of lightening, a thunder-stroke from the gods: the discovery of period instruments. Not only did Mr. Clarke like the sound but he got to travel the world and play great music, unlike most of his friends who played regular 'modern' instruments.
Still, the career fantasies continued. Artisan cheesemaker? A jousting knight? A bare-back Cossack rider? A rock star? An arts administrator? A sailor? Alas, playing the baroque violin always won out at the end of the day.
So what else would you like to know? Mr. Clarke was born and brought up in Coventry, UK (not strictly true, he was born in Nuneaton about half an hour down the road from Coventry). His mother was a piano teacher and his father a cabinet-maker and teacher. Mr. Clarke loves Lancashire and Wenslydale cheese (rock on Wallace and Gromit), traditional English puddings like Spotted Dick and Sussex Pond Pudding, and the theatre (still dreaming of that career in acting). Oh yeah, and he's a life-long fan of the Aston Villa Football (Soccer) Club along with fellow violinist Nigel Kennedy, and heir to the British throne, Prince William.
Photo credit: Richard Calmes