John Cushing

2015 Salomon Prize winner

John Cushing, principal clarinet of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra for 36 years, has been awarded the prestigious RPS/ABO Salomon Prize for orchestral musicians.

John Cushing, who recently retired as Principal Clarinet of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra after more than three decades with the orchestra, has been awarded the RPS/ABO Salomon Prize, a prestigious award celebrating the outstanding contribution of orchestral players to the UK’s musical life. John Cushing was presented with the prize on stage at Usher Hall, Edinburgh on Friday 27 February 2015 during a concert of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven conducted by Roger Norrington.

John Cushing is the fourth recipient of the prize, following in the footsteps of outstanding musicians from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, The Hallé and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Salomon Prize citation from the RPS and ABO reads:

“The players of the RSNO describe John Cushing as a powerful communicator, a natural leader and an incredible musician and colleague. He has shown outstanding service to the RSNO, joining in 1978 and has provided support, commitment and a generosity of character that is second to none. Whether serving on the RSNO Board as the Player Director, in education work or as a soloist, he constantly seeks to share his passion for music. He has been a touchstone of the orchestra and the Salomon Jury wishes him all the best on his retirement.”


About John Cushing

Born in London, John Cushing grew up in Liverpool. He began playing the clarinet at the age of thirteen and, after leaving school, studied with Sidney Fell at the Royal Manchester College of Music, where he was awarded the Hiles Medal. He later continued his studies in London with John McCaw.

After five years as Principal Clarinet with the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera, John was appointed Principal Clarinet with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in April 1978, a post he held until September 2014, 36 very happy and fulfilling years. Since joining he has appeared as soloist with the Orchestra on many occasions, and has an extensive Concerto repertoire, including James Macmillan’s Ninian, which was written for and dedicated to him in 1998. John performed premieres of Ninian in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London and later around the UK, as well as on tour in Bergen, Norway. He made the world première recording of the work with the RSNO and Alexander Lazarev. He was delighted to perform the piece in Scotland again in 2014 with RSNO after a period of 16 years and thrilled that new audiences responded to it so enthusiastically. In other concertos John has appeared as soloist with conductors as diverse as Rattle, Berglund, Bamert, Gibson, Jane Glover, Takuo Yuasa, Weller, Lazarev, Walker and many others.

In the past few years, John has given several other World and Scottish première performances of works for solo clarinet and chamber ensemble, including pieces by Sweeney, Adams, Ted Kirk and again James Macmillan, this time a piece for clarinet alone - From Galloway which is also again dedicated to him.

As an orchestral player John has guested with many of the British symphony orchestras.

John Cushing has a particular interest in chamber and contemporary music. Over the years he has been a member of and played with groups as diverse as Paragon, Allander and Hebrides Ensembles, has worked with many string quartets and the clarinet, soprano and piano trio Vocalise. He is currently busy in the Phoenix wind trio with Katherine Bryan (flute) and David Hubbard (bassoon) as well as the wind quintet Primi whose players are members of both the RSNO and Halle.

John has taught clarinet at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) since 1978 and gives masterclasses and recitals throughout the country, primarily with pianist Scott Mitchell. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from RCS in July 2014 and is the recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society Salomon Prize 2015.

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