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Sérgio Pires smiling

Welcome to Sérgio Pires, our new Principal Clarinet

This month Sérgio Pires joins the LSO as Principal Clarinet alongside Chris Richards. Get to know a little more about him.


Sérgio Fernandes Pires is a winner of more than a dozen prizes at international competitions. As a soloist, he has performed with renowned orchestras including the Bremen Philharmonic, Chamber Orchestra Basel, Musikkollegium Winterthur, Orchestra Filarmonicii de Stat Transilvania, Basel Symphonic Orchestra, Silesian Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonieorchester Wuppertal, Berlin Symphonic and Argovia Philarmonic, playing pieces by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Stamitz, Carl Maria von Weber, Gioachino Rossini, Krzysztof Penderecki, Franz Danzi, Aaron Copland, and Carl Nielsen.

As a chamber musician, Sérgio is invited regularly to festivals in many countries around the world, including South Korea, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Japan, sharing the stage with famous artists like Heinz Holliger, Albrecht Mayer, Radovan Vlatkovic, Valentin Erben, Emmanuel Pahud, Krzysztof Chorzelski, Emmanuel Abbuehl and many others.

Sérgio sees teaching as one of his biggest passions. He took the Assistant role at the Universidade do Minho, Portugal, in 2019, and at the Hochschule for Musik in Basel, Switzerland (where he studied) in 2023. Sérgio also teaches at various masterclasses every year, in festivals in Portugal, Spain, Poland, South Korea, Colombia and other countries.

When did you first start playing the clarinet, and why?

I started playing the clarinet at the age of 8. I was born in Switzerland, and we moved to Portugal when I was 8 years old. There was a wind band in my village, and my parents thought that would be a good way to socially integrate myself faster, and to be surrounded by kids my own age. I actually wanted to play trumpet, but the band was in real need of clarinets, so they really insisted I chose the clarinet. And now I am happy they did! 

I always loved making music, be it in group, or just at home practicing. I loved how it made me feel, making me forget everything else, and feel alive. With that passion guiding everything, the way opened itself slowly for me to follow music as a career. Sometimes as adults and professional musicians we forget about that early passion that we felt with music, and it’s nice (and necessary) to come back to it. 

Do you have any clarinet heroes?

There are so many! And each one of them has something that inspired me during my development. But one of the biggest influences was Alessandro Carbonare, my first teacher. I had my first lesson with him when I was 12, and after that many private lessons. Probably the care of the sound and colours produced through the instrument was his biggest influence on me. 

What are you most looking forward to in the rest of the LSO’s season?

I am definitely looking forward to perform Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony, with its beautiful second movement and the big clarinet solo. It is right there among some of the most beautiful music ever written. The LSO plays with so many fantastic conductors and soloists, that every project will be an inspiration, but I am very looking forward to playing more regularly with our new Chief Conductor Designate Sir Antonio Pappano. 

If you could go back, what advice would you give your younger self as an aspiring musician?

I don’t know if I would give advice, more encouragement that things will turn out ok, and the sacrifices will pay off. I left home to study in another city when I was 14, and that was not always easy, but now I am glad I did. 

Are there any other interesting things about you we should know?

I really love to cook whenever I have the time. But also I love snowboarding, hiking and pretty much anything that brings me into contact with nature. I also play a bit of guitar, and piano. 

If you had to pick, what is your favourite piece of orchestral music?

Whilst Brahms is my favourite composer, it is mostly because of his Sonatas, and chamber music works. But as for a piece of orchestral music, I simply can’t find anything more complete than Haydn’s The Creation. The perfect harmony between music and lyrics, while still being super modern for the time that it was written. I get shivers each time I hear it. 

What piece of orchestral music would you recommend to someone who has never heard an orchestra before, and why? 

Well, The Creation. I think it is music that’s easy to understand, while still being quite epic. It is a piece of work with a lot of meaning behind it, where you can always discover new things, but it doesn’t matter how much you know about classical music. The symbiosis between the text and the music also gives an extra help on appreciating even more the art behind it. 


Watch: Haydn’s The Creation

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