Ashley William Smith – Biography

Described as incandescent… a masterly display of skill and insight… as an apologist for contemporary music-making, you would search hard to find this young clarinettist’s equal’ (The Age), clarinettist Ashley William Smith has emerged as one of Australia’s most exciting young musicians. Winner of the ‘other instruments’ category of the 2010 ABC Symphony International Young Performer Award, Ashley has been identified as a ‘rising star’ by the world’s leading clarinet manufacturer, and is a Buffet-Crampon Artist.

Born in Perth in 1984, Ashley has presented major public recitals throughout Australia and the east coast of the USA. He has appeared as a soloist with the Tasmanian and Queensland Symphony Orchestras, Orchestra Victoria and the Orchestra of the Australian National Academy of Music. Ashley’s dedication to the promotion of new music has seen him perform numerous Australian premieres, especially those of works by Jorg Widmann and Magnus Lindberg. His Melbourne premiere of the Lindberg Concerto was ranked amongst The Age Newspaper’s Top 5 Classical Performances 2010 and was described as ‘a stand-out occasion … for once a talented performer fully identified with the music he was playing; it was impossible to imagine a more committed, sympathetic interpretation’ (The Age). Other career highlights include performing the Lindberg Clarinet Quintet at the gala concert of the World Congress of Chamber Music Competitions.

Ashley has future performances scheduled in the USA and Europe with his duo partner, Australian pianist Aura Go. In 2013 Ashley appear with the Chamber Music Society of the Lincoln Centre, the Australian String Quartet and Melbourne’s Syzygy Ensemble.

Ashley graduated from the University of Western Australia with First Class Honours and prizes including the Lady Callaway Medal, the Edith Cowan Prize. In addition he was awarded the Sir Harold Bailey Award as the most outstanding graduate of the UWA Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and was nominated for the J.A. Wood Prize, the University’s most prestigious honour. Ashley is also an alumnus of the Australian National Academy of Music and in 2010 was an Academy Fellow. In 2009 he won both the jury and audience prizes at the Academy’s Concerto Competition and in 2010 was awarded the inaugural Harold Mitchell Fellowship. He is currently pursuing post-graduate studies on full scholarship at Yale University and is mentored by David Shifrin. Ashley is one of Yale School of Music’s nominees for the prestigious Arthur Foote Prize. Most recently, Ashley was named the 2012 Music Council of Australia Freedman Fellow and will subsequently pursue an international recital tour and study program in 2013. He currently teaches clarinet at the Yale College and in several Australian tertiary institutions. 

Alongside his passion for new music and the clarinet, Ashley is a die-hard fan of opera and is undergoing tuition to tame his recently discovered heldentenor voice. He has pipe-dreams of one day singing at the Met Opera in New York. 

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