John Moses is New York City's leading freelance and recording clarinetist. Longstanding member of Local 802 American Federation of Musicians (AFM), John has performed with virtually every musical group in the area. He is currently the first clarinetist with American Composers Orchestra, The New York Pops, and The Westchester Philharmonic. He has also performed with The New York Philharmonic, The New York City Ballet and Opera, The New Jersey Symphony, The St. Louis Symphony, The San Francisco Chamber Orchestra (Amici della Musica), and The Royal Philharmonic of London.
John has performed in the opening of over 26 Broadway shows including Wicked, Oklahoma!, Titanic, Nine, Into The Woods, Crazy for You, Jerome Robbins' Broadway, and Sweeney Todd. He has also been honored with five GRAMMY Awards for his work on Broadway. John has been featured on over 200 film scores including You've Got Mail, Analyze This, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Fargo and Home Alone. He has also appeared on TV on The David Letterman Show, and Good Morning America. A graduate of The Juilliard School, he is a former Professor of Clarinet at Brooklyn College, Queens College, and Wagner College on Staten Island. And has also lectured at Yale University, Curtis Institute of Music, Eastman School of Music, Mannes College The New School for Music, NYU and the Manhattan School of Music. His recordings include works with many solo artists, from Marilyn Horne to Natalie Cole, Placido Domingo to Mandy Patinkin, Wynton Marsalis to Judy Collins, Lucio Pavarotti to Dave Sanborn, as featured on RCA, Angel Recordings, Elektra Records, Composers Recordings, Inc. (CRI), Varese Sarabande, Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG), and Columbia Records.
John’s private studies started at age eleven. And at age thirteen he began taking lessons with Herbert Couf, then first clarinetist of the Detroit Symphony, who encouraged him to attend the Interlochen Music Camp, “I went there for five summers and it broadened my musical scope by 200 percent.” John eventually attended the University of Michigan where he played in the marching band under the direction of William Revelli, as well as studying the clarinet with Alberto Luconi and the saxophone with Larry Teal. After leaving the University of Michigan, John decided to continue his education in New York City at The Juilliard School. He first worked with Bernard Portnoy, former first clarinetist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and would continue to do so throughout both his bachelor's and master's degrees. “Mr. Portnoy taught me how to play symphonic music, how to take an audition, what conductors would look for, what to do and what not to do in terms of legit clarinet playing. He made me very flexible in terms of the literature of the symphony orchestra.” John continued his studies in NYC with Joe Allard, the famous teacher of multiple woodwinds (doublers), who was a major influence towards his post graduate degree.
John got his start in Broadway through Herbie Harris, a well-known Broadway contractor and fellow substitute musician with the New York Philharmonic. His first show was 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, this really put him on the Broadway circuit since it was a Bernstein show, this ultimately led to his big break with Sweeney Todd, a Sondheim contemporary Opera. This opportunity gave way to a close friendship with Stephen Sondheim as John has explained, "I went on to do all of Stephen’s shows, including Merrily We Roll Along, Assassins, Into The Woods, Follies, one after another – they were all great. Everything he wrote was a masterpiece." During this time John was also experimenting with more abstract approaches with artists such as John Cage and Philip Glass, "We played all the contemporary composers and then it became the American Composers Orchestra (ACO), which did many contemporary recordings, and then went on to perform the composers from all over the Americas, as well as Canada. We rehearsed late or whenever we could, and put on concerts at Carnegie Hall. In addition he toured the United States and Europe with Luciano Berio and Dennis Russell Davies, conductors of The Berio Ensemble."
Some thoughts on performing:
"Always be flexible. Always understand what a conductor needs and wants. Never force your ideas on the leader. Be cooperative with your colleagues. If they’re playing flat, play flat. Joe Allard used to say you have to be flexible enough to play out of tune in the right way. That was amazing. And then he taught me to voice the clarinet in a special way so that it would always sound unique. Don’t try to sound like anyone else. Have your own unique voice – and by that, Joe meant playing the overtone series on the clarinet in a very special way. Always have your equipment in top-notch condition. It’s never an excuse to have something not work, including your body. Health is your most important asset."