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Ricardo Morales - Behind the Scenes

April 02, 2014

Ricardo Morales Principal Clarinet

Each month in the Orchestra’s Playbill, we feature one musician in a question-and-answer segment. Below is that feature in its entirety.

Where were you born?
San Juan, Puerto Rico.

What piece of music could you play over and over again?
Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances.

What’s your most treasured possession?
My family!

What’s your favorite Philadelphia restaurant?
Capital Grille.

Tell us about your instrument.
It is a MoBa clarinet, which stands for Morales/Backun. It’s an instrument that I co-designed with world-renowned acoustician and instrument maker Morrie Backun. We completely changed the bore, tone-hole placement, and keywork. Most clarinets have a design that is at least 60 years old. Ours is unlike any other clarinet out there!

What’s in your instrument case?
A tuner, metronome, reeds, and hand warmers, which I use to keep my clarinet warm during the winter. 

If you could ask one composer one question what would it be?
I would ask Wagner, “Could you please write me a clarinet concerto?”

What piece of music never fails to move you?
“The Fairy Garden” movement from Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite. Its simplicity and sweetness brings about a longing for innocence that makes my heart ache. 

When did you join the Orchestra?
2003.

Do you play any other instruments?
No, but I wish I could play the violin.

What’s your favorite type of food?
Korean food!

What books are on your nightstand? Hard copy or e-reader?
Only hard copies: Stradivari’s Genius by Toby Farber (which I’m reading again for the third time) and The Silmarillion by J.R.R.Tolkien (which is hauntingly beautiful and despite having read it several times, I can never put it down). 

Do you speak any other languages?
Spanish.

Do you follow any blogs?
No.

Do you have any hobbies?
I like watching boxing, following politics, and studying violins (I enjoy learning the history behind luthiers and how they worked).

Do you have a favorite movie?
Star Wars. Period.

What’s the last recording you purchased? CD or download? Downloaded from iTunes: James Ehnes performing the five Mozart violin concertos.

What’s on your iPod?
Too many pieces to list them all here, but they are all classical and operatic works.

When was the first time you heard The Philadelphia Orchestra?
I was 14 years old and attending the Eastern Music Festival. I heard a recording of Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony and I was so “wowed.” I never dreamt that one day I would be playing as principal clarinet in such a famous orchestra. 

Other than Verizon Hall, where is your favorite place to perform?
There is no place in the world like Carnegie Hall. 

Read other "Musicians Behind the Scenes" Playbill features.