New York Phil Names Principal Clarinet
By Susan Elliott
April 27, 2011
Ricardo Morales has signed a contract with the New York Philharmonic to be principal clarinet, effective in September 2012, when his contract as principal clarinet of the Philadelphia Orchestra expires. For the latter orchestra, his move is another blow following the April 16 announcement of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.
The New York position has been vacant since Stanley Drucker retired in 2009, after 60 years with the orchestra. Morales never auditioned for the post behind a screen, but rather by sitting in the principal chair with the orchestra before a paying audience. He was first offered the New York position last October; the timing of this announcement, so close to the bankruptcy filing, would indicate that Philadelphia’s financial state may cost it some of its best players.
Morales, 39, is something of a superstar. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, he made his solo debut with the Puerto Rico Symphony at the age of 13 playing the Second Weber Concerto; at age 17 he won the Grand Prize in the Seventeen Magazine competition. At age 21, he was named principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera. He joined the Philadelphia Orchestra as principal in 2003. He holds an Artist Diploma from Indiana University.
Morales also won the audition for principal clarinet of the Chicago Symphony but turned down the offer to join the CSO in 2009.
He is no stranger to the solo spotlight either, having fronted the Philadelphia, Chicago and Metropolitan Opera orchestras, among many others. Morales is on the faculties of The Juilliard School and Temple University.