Member Profile of the week – Take 5 with Oliver Crofts

12 November, 2019

Oliver recently travelled to Melbourne, having been invited to the second and final round live auditions for the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM).  He has since been offered a scholarship position in the 2020 ANAM Professional Performance Program in Melbourne, where he will study with David Thomas – Head of Winds ANAM (Principal Clarinet – Melbourne Symphony Orchestra).

Oliver commenced music studies at the UWA Conservatorium of Music in 2017, supported by a Delano Music Scholarship. Aged 20, Oliver has a diverse musical upbringing, having learnt piano, clarinet, saxophone and voice. He specialises in clarinet performance, under the mentorship of both Allan Meyer (Principal Clarinet – West Australian Symphony Orchestra) and Dr Ashley William Smith (Head of Winds and Contemporary Performance at UWA). Oliver has performed with numerous orchestras, including the West Australian Youth Orchestra (Principal Clarinet 2018 & 2019), UWA Symphony, Fremantle Symphony, Australian Bass Orchestra/Tura New Music, Orchestra of the Music Makers (Singapore), Perth Orchestra Project and most recently performed in the West Australian Opera Company’s production of Macbeth (WASO Banda).

In 2018, Oliver performed the Mozart Clarinet Concerto for Sabine Meyer in her Musica Viva Masterclass. In May 2019, Oliver also performed Debussy’s Première Rhapsodie for Andreas Ottensamer (Principal Clarinet – Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra). Oliver is currently employed as a Tenor of the St George’s Cathedral Choir & Consort (directed by Dr Joseph Nolan), having collaborated with The King’s Singers and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. Upon completion of his UWA degree in 2019, Oliver aspires to continue his clarinet studies both interstate & overseas.

Take 5 with Oliver Crofts

1. Do you have a favourite quote from your conductor?

Peter Moore is a conductor who I respect greatly, bringing great enthusiasm, knowledge and experience to our rehearsals.  He is naturally very charismatic in his approach and has a great sense of humour, so it is not easy to pick a favourite quote from the many that he is famous for.  As a bassoonist himself, I particularly enjoyed when Peter would kindly ask the bassoon section, “could you try and sound more like bassoons”.

 2. What has been the highlight of playing in WAYO?

Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique with Peter Moore and Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances with Benjamin Northey were both memorable orchestral experiences for me.  An absolute highlight was definitely Mahler Symphony No. 2 with Tze Law Chan and the Orchestra of the Music Makers (Singapore).  The collaboration between both orchestras and the substantial choral forces was highly exciting, particularly as we were fortunate to spend the week rehearsing in the Perth Concert Hall.  The stunning acoustics of such a venue allowed us to fully realise the enormity of Mahler’s score, brought to life by Tze Law’s inspirational guidance of the orchestra. I believe such an opportunity was of great importance in my musical development.

3. Who is your favourite composer? What is your favourite piece? 

As a clarinettist, I am slightly biased towards the incredible symphonic writing of Brahms and I am particularly fond of his third symphony.  My other top choices would be Bach’s St Matthew Passion, Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, Korngold’s Violin Concerto, Rachmaninoff’s The Bells and his Piano Concerto No. 2, Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story and Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé.

4. What inspired you to learn an instrument?

From my earliest childhood memories, music has always been a big part of my upbringing.  It has become a fundamental part of who I am.  My parents enrolled me in the UWA Junior School of Music when I was five years old, where I commenced group music classes, sung in children’s choirs and learnt piano with Adam Pinto.  I continued to study piano extensively with Adam for 10 years, in addition to commencing clarinet at the age of 10 and later saxophone in high school.  In 2014, I won tickets to watch Allan Meyer (Principal Clarinet – WASO) perform the Brahms Quintet at the Fremantle Town Hall.  Allan’s performance inspired me so greatly and it has been an absolute honour to study clarinet under Allan at UWA for the past three years.

5. Outside of music, what other interests do you have? 

Over the past three years, I have been studying music full time at UWA, spending my weekends rehearsing with the WA Youth Orchestra and performing in concerts and singing as a tenor with the St George’s Cathedral Choir and Consort.  There isn’t really a day off for me!  In my spare time, I’m always practicing, listening to more music or attending concerts, it never really stops.  Outside of music, I love travel, photography and spending time with family and friends.