“A sound like liquid gold...” (Eleanor Hood - Cameo Concerts) aptly describes the performances of clarinetist Leslie Nicholas. He has appeared around the globe in opera, orchestra, chamber music and solo roles at venues including Alice Tully Hall of New York’s Lincoln Center, Washington’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Saint Martin-in-the-Fields, London. Mr. Nicholas has been principal clarinetist with New York’s Classic Chamber Orchestra, the Dallas Chamber Orchestra, ProMusica Columbus, the West Virginia Symphony, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and with the New York Harlem Opera throughout Europe. He has played under world famous conductors Daniel Barenboim, Claudio Abbado and Sir Georg Solti, and has performed with Washington’s National Chamber Players, with the Aspen, Round Top, Grand Teton and Coronado Music Festivals, and with the AIMS Festival in Austria and Italy. As a featured artist, Nicholas has performed for the International Clarinet Association, the University of Oklahoma Clarinet Symposium, and the International Conference of The College Music Society in Vienna. He has also appeared with the Garth Newel Music Center, the Wintergreen Festival, the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival and for over two decades with the American Prize winning Lancaster Festival.
Mr. Nicholas has recorded in solo roles supporting international recording artist, clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, and he has recorded and toured internationally with Musica Harmonia. He has toured as a member of the Pastiche, the Montpellier and the Blair Woodwind Quintets, and he performs regularly with the Allegheny Trio. In early 2013 he returned from performing with colleagues at the University of Otago, New Zealand, and enjoyed an invitation to join the Boston Chamber Players as a last-minute replacement for concerts in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Les Nicholas is strongly committed to presenting the very finest chamber music. Distinguished collaborating artists have included Jon Kimura Parker, Yolanda Kondonassis, Anton Kuerti, William Preucil, Susan Starr, David Shifrin, Christopher O’Riley, Cary Lewis, the Veronika Quartet of Moscow, Jeremy Wall, and others. As a champion of contemporary music, Nicholas reminds us that “...all music was once new!” ...and his recent premieres include commissions by Gwyneth Walker with Musica Harmonia and by Nickitas Demos with the trio d’anches, WindRose.
Nicholas' early appointment to Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music has led to many years of helping talented young musicians. A nurturing mentor, he has been Teaching Artist at the Durham Arts Council School, and on the faculties of Southern Virginia and Eastern Mennonite Universities. He has taught at Capital University, Kenyon College, Radford University, James Madison University, Washington & Lee University, for the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, as visiting faculty at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and as Woodwind Area Coordinator and Lecturer in Clarinet at Georgia State University. Mr. Nicholas is former Artist-in-Residence with The Bijou Orchestra in Michigan and remains on faculty at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, also in Michigan. In 2014 he was invited to join a select Community Advisory Team for the Kennedy Center’s national education initiative, “Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child.”
Mr. Nicholas’ principal teachers have been members of the San Antonio, Dallas, Cincinnati, Chicago and Cleveland Orchestras; among them Stephen Girko, Carmine Campione, Clark Brody, Larry Combs – and the legendary Robert Marcellus, his mentor for many years. Nicholas holds performance degrees cum laude from the University of Texas and Northwestern University, with additional graduate study at Southern Methodist University and at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music.
Les Nicholas is presently Affiliate Artist at Friends University and is a core member of Chamber Music Wichita. His current projects include new recordings, acoustical improvements to the clarinet, and developing a new curriculum for the youngest clarinet stars of tomorrow. When not performing or teaching, Les can usually be found cycling about the rustic Flint Hills of Kansas.