Pay days in Eilat

British clarinetist Anthony Pay will perform and give master classes at the Chamber Music Festival.

Anthony Pay 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Anthony Pay 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
British clarinetist Anthony Pay will be one of the busiest visitors to Eilat next week, for the sixth annual Eilat Chamber Music Festival (March 17-26). On March 19 he is scheduled to play in a program that features Brahms clarinet trio, several Bruch works for viola, clarinet and piano, and Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet.
Then, on March 24, Pay will perform Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet together with the Jerusalem Quartet. Add to that a handful of master classes, and one suspects that the 67-year-old will not have too much time to soak up the rays here before returning to colder climes in Oxford.
Then again, Pay is well versed in globetrotting and says it is often a case of going somewhere, working, sleeping and eating and hopping on another plane. “I have just come back from doing some workshops in San Sebastian in Spain and I didn’t really see much besides the hotel, classroom and restaurant. Anyway, it was quite rainy there.” Unfortunately, rain shouldn’t be a problem in Eilat.
Pay maintains a busy performance schedule around the world, working with a wide range of ensembles and also varying his choice of clarinet. He currently works with the Academy of Ancient Music and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, both of which berths allow him to indulge in his passion for using period instruments. “I will be playing the Mozart Clarinet Quintet with a period clarinet, which is much closer to the instruments used during Mozart’s time, although I took some keys off it to get a different sound quality,” he says.
Pay will use a modern clarinet for the Brahms trio. “When you play different sorts of instruments and explore the way you view the music, it gives you a different slant on the work and makes it very interesting.”
He says that using period instruments allows a musician to get some idea of what it was like for musicians of the time. “Musicians in the 18th century looked at each single note and thought about it differently than musicians do today. It is like speaking. You complete a syllable and then it disappears. For example, a note on an old piano dies away more quickly than it does on a modern piano. Different music works better with different instruments.”
Participants in Pay’s master classes in Eilat will gain some valuable insight into how to approach the instrument.
“The traditional repertoire is quite demanding in terms of instrumental control,” Pay explains. “The standard repertoire presents the player with all sorts of hurdles that you need to be able to neatly jump over. They offer you good discipline for becoming a better clarinet player. If you play wild 20th-century music, what is the right and wrong way to play is not so clearly defined. You have to be more precise with older music.”
Interestingly, after a fast start to his musical career – when he was 16 he was a member of the National Youth Orchestra with which he toured extensively, including a working visit to Israel – Pay chose a completely different field of study at university, opting for mathematics at Cambridge University. Then again, there is a strong mathematical element to classical music, too.
“I have always been interested in science, and you can take a mathematical approach to your instrument. Mathematics is about seeing underlying patterns in things, and that is what music is all about. It is an esthetic thing, not a technical one.”
Pay says that many people manage to combine science and music.
“Scientists are often very good musicians. I did a tour of Canada and we performed in a faraway place to a sophisticated audience of people studying nuclear power and nuclear physics, and they knew a lot about music.”
Mind you, Pay’s active interest in music did not always go hand in hand with his university studies.
“Playing music spoiled my chances of getting a good degree,” says the clarinetist, “especially when I kept cutting lessons to go to rehearsals.”
Pay says he is looking forward to his visit to Eilat and playing with musicians with whom he has not previously worked. “I have played with some of the musicians in Eilat before and it doesn’t always guarantee a good integrated performance when people don’t know each other,” he observes, “but I think things will be fine. I have had some really good experiences in Israel before.”
For more information about the Eilat Chamber Music Festival: