"In this varied program, Christopher Nichols’ performances are rich-timbred, imaginative and vivid. The clarinetist impresses with a virtuoso playing, yet the most fascinating here is his finely nuanced cantabile which makes the slow movements so charming."
“Nichols gives a very fluent account, relishing the many different textures the master orchestrator deployed, and Nishimura’s accompaniment is sensitive and never overshadows her partner.”
“Any recital that ranges in style from that of Camille Saint-Saëns to John Cage automatically suggests versatility on the part of the performer, and indeed that is to be found in the playing of clarinetist Christopher Nichols, who plays sublimely throughout the present disc.”
“Nichols and Nishimura perform both pieces expertly while conveying musically sensitive phrasing and exploiting the vast technical possibilities provided by the ensemble.”
VICTORIA INTERNATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL
"Performed by solo clarinetist, Christopher Robert Nichols, it was delivered with passion and understated intensity. Following loosely a programmatic thread, the clarinet could indulge in a wide variety of colour that at times become almost dazzling and frenzied. Nichols has a wonderful tone and especially in the lower registers he exuded an aura of exoticism and seduction that is so characteristic of this instrument."
Critically acclaimed clarinetist Christopher Nichols enjoys a dynamic career with performances as a soloist and in ensembles across the United States and abroad. As a professional instrumental soloist, he received praise from the American Prize: “…lovely long line, evocative playing, flexible…tone is rich and round, welcoming, clean and elegant…fine performances from a skilled artist.”
Dr. Nichols regularly performs with orchestras such as the Philharmonia of Greater Kansas City, the Pennsylvania Philharmonic, the Kennett Symphony and the Allentown Symphony Orchestra. He is a member of Christiana Winds and has recently collaborated with the acclaimed Serafin String Quartet, the Taggart-Grycky Duo, and members of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He has served for over a decade in Army Bands with performances throughout the United States, Germany, France and Austria. He is currently a member of the 287th Army Band in Wilmington, Delaware.
A dedicated pedagogue, Dr. Nichols joined the faculty of the University of Delaware School of Music in 2013 where he is Associate Professor of Clarinet. As an artist clinician, he regularly appears at universities throughout the United States. His students have found success in competitions, won positions in military bands, and serve as music educators.
Dr. Nichols has appeared as a featured soloist at conferences of the International Clarinet Association, European Clarinet Association, National Association of Collegiate Wind and Percussion Instructors and College Music Society. Live performances have been selected for inclusion in the Audio Performance Archive of College Music Symposium. Additionally, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and public radio in Kansas, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and Michigan have broadcast both live performances and studio recordings. In 2015, the Delaware Division of the Arts awarded Dr. Nichols an Established Artist Fellowship in recognition for his work as a solo recitalist. He has released solo and chamber music recordings on internationally distributed labels including Navona Records, Viduus Records and Albany Records, which have won praise in publications such as Gramophone, Fanfare, NACWPI Journal, De Klarinet, and Pizzicato.
Dr. Nichols’ is an active member of the National Association for Music Education, College Music Society, Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, Pi Kappa Lambda Music Honor Society, International Clarinet Association and Music Teachers National Association. He has served as the College Music Society Northeast Chapter’s Executive Board Member for Performance, and begins a second two year term on the executive board of the International Clarinet Association as secretary in September 2020.
Dr. Nichols holds a Bachelor of Music, magna cum laude, from the Boston Conservatory, Master of Music from Kansas State University, and Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Kansas. His primary mentors include Ian Greitzer, Kenneth Radnofsky, Steven Barta, Tod Kerstetter and Stephanie Zelnick.
As a Légère Reeds Endorsing Artist, Silverstein Pro Team Artist, and a Buffet Crampon USA Artist Clinician, Dr. Nichols performs exclusively on Légère Signature Series reeds, Silverstein ligatures and Buffet R-13 clarinets. Additionally, he is an RCW Artist and plays on RCW clarinet barrels.
Clarinetist Christopher Nichols makes his Parma and Navona Records debut with Elegia, a compilation of Italian, French, and American clarinet works spanning two centuries. These works include repertoire standards, little-recorded rarities, and recent music from contemporary composer Kevin Cope. Collaborative pianist Julie Nishimura joins Nichols for these recordings.
Among the widely-known works featured on the album is the operatic and energetic Adagio and Tarentella by Ernesto Cavallini, a clarinetist/composer known in Italy as “the Paganini of the clarinet.” As the principal clarinetist at Milan’s La Scala opera house, Cavallini’s astounding virtuosity caught the attention of Giuseppe Verdi, who was moved to write the stunning, lyrical Andante for clarinet in act three of his opera La forza del destino (The Force of Destiny)—a piece also included on this release. Nichols also features a favorite recital piece, Elegia. Composed by Aurelio Magnani, another Italian clarinetist/composer, the work is little known and rarely recorded. Two French staples are included as well: Henri Rabaud’s 1901 Solo de concours, Op. 10 and Camille Saint-Saëns’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 167. Each work is divided into contrasting sections or movements, thus displaying the clarinet’s wide-ranging sound in different contexts. The album’s two American works are both for unaccompanied clarinet. John Cage’s rarely heard, early Sonata for Clarinet is a challenging work: at its premiere in 1933, the clarinetist refused to play it, forcing the composer to play it with one finger at the piano. Even as an early piece, it foreshadows Cage’s later forays into the radical avant-garde. Kevin Cope’s 2012 piece Sirocco rounds out the album. The word “sirocco” refers to a desert wind that blows around the Mediterranean coastline, evoked in the piece by wandering tonality and blending of different musical styles.
ALMOST ALL-AMERICAN: 21ST-CENTURY WORKS FOR CLARINET
Critically acclaimed clarinetist Christopher Nichols has recorded a CD of some of his favorite individual and consortium commissioning project, which are core pieces of his repertoire. In addition to works for clarinet and piano, there is a composition for woodwind quartet and one for countertenor, clarinet, and piano. Nichols is on the faculty at the University of Delaware. He performs regularly with orchestras such as the Pennsylvania Philharmonic, the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, and the Allentown Symphony Orchestra. He has performed as a soloist at national and international conferences and in 2015, was recognized with an Established Artist Fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts. His collaborators include pianist Julie Nishimura, who is also on the faculty at the University of Delaware; countertenor Augustine Mercante, who performs to great critical acclaim; composer/pianist Jennifer Margaret Barker; and the Christiana Winds.