Murray Khouri Behind “The Music Forum”
I was born in Wellington New Zealand. The only sign of the global conflict which was raging world-wide was an air-raid siren on the petrol station just down the road.
I played the clarinet professionally for the first time whilst still a 16 year old school-boy. I joined the then National Orchestra for broadcasts of the Sibelius Symphonies conducted by John Hopkins.
Just two years later I arrived at London’s Waterloo Station after a four week sea voyage. The Philharmonia Orchestra, the orchestra of Dennis Brain, Cecil James, Sydney Sutcliffe and my choice of teacher, Bernard Walton was the raison d’etre for my arrival in Britain at the tender age of 18.
Bernard Walton who happily taught at the Royal College of Music was an inspired and inspiring teacher. I quickly found myself in the top grading and as first clarinet in first orchestra.I also made my debut as a soloist at the Wigmore Hall in Matyas Seiber’s Clarinet Concertino.
Three years later I became first clarinet in the Royal Ballet Orchestra before returning to New Zealand as principal in the NZBC Concert Orchestra later transferring to the NZBC Symphony.
The call of London proved too strong so it was back into the enormous pool of London Orchestras playing between the London Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras under a galaxy of great conductors such as Leopold Stokowski, Pierre Boulez, Georg Solti, Bernard Haitink, Adrian Boult, Rudolf Kempe, Erich Leinsdorf, Carlo Maria Giulini, Jascha Horenstein, & Eugen Jochum. I made regular appearances on BBC Sound and Television with legends such as Robert Farnon, Bernard Hermann Duke Ellington & Morton Gould.
By the mid Seventies I was nurturing hopes of a solo and chamber career so an offer from the Canberra School of Music in Australia seemed a way to begin. In my fifteen years in Australia I formed two groups, the Australian Contemporary Music Ensemble and the Australia Ensemble, touring all over the world with the latter.
I played concertos with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the City of Birmingham Symphony.
An offer from the BBC took me back to Britain for the last time in 1989. There I was a Producer at Radio 3 before going on produce hundreds of CDs for several companies. Not neglecting my playing, I toured the USA three times visiting Universities and appearing as a soloist there and in Europe. My BBC World Broadcast attracted a global audience of 20 million listeners.
By the mid nineties I was working in several countries besides teaching and living in New Zealand. I was artistic director of the Danish Chamber Players and a regular recitalist.
Seven years into the new Millenium, I’m reflecting on half a century of intense activity. Reflecting on some of the great musicians I’ve worked with.
Besides my teacher Bernard Walton there’s composers Don Banks, Sandy Goehr, and Larry Sitsky best ever duo partner for Brahms, Max Reger and the Second Viennese School. Violinist John Harding and Gordon Webb the irreplaceable first trumpet of the London Philharmonic. What a privilege to work with musicians of that caliber.
Currently I’m a regular and well received broadcaster for Radio New Zealand. I still play difficult and rewarding recitals and my Festival directorships and appearances are growing in Western Australia, Bowral, Taree and Orange, all three in New South Wales Australia.