Magnus Holmander, clarinettist

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music and who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career? 

When I was ten years old everyone in my class got a wind instrument and we played wind orchestra for a year instead of having regular music lessons. In the beginning I thought it was really boring but the year after I played a solo for the whole school before the summer holidays and that was a huge game changer for me. I think it was the reaction I got from the audience that, in the space of one day, made me think that playing clarinet was no longer boring but actually quite awesome. I don’t come from a classical music family and I grew up listening to Michael Jackson and the Backstreet Boys.  The greatest influencers haven’t been famous musicians but rather all wonderful musicians I’ve met and played with.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far? 

Finding ways to combine my two hobbies – music and magic, as I am a third generation magician. Not the easiest thing to do when you play the clarinet!

Of which performances/recordings are you most proud? 

For me the greatest performance is when you really feel that you’ve reached the audience emotionally. I actually had one of those performances very recently in Uppsala! When it comes to recordings, I’m most proud of my video recordings on my Instagram as I trained myself in video technology during lockdown.

Which particular works do you think you perform best? 

My own compositions, as I’m the only one who knows what the music should sound like!

What do you do off stage that provides inspiration on stage? 

I saw a quote from Michael Jackson saying “The greatest education in the world is watching the masters at work” and I think that is really true. As a performer, no matter if you are a musician, dancer or actor, I think the best thing you can do for inspiration is to consume as much art across all genres as you possibly can.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why? 

The venue is not the most important thing for me, rather the reactions of the audience. Once I played in the north of Sweden in a really small theatre hall with horrible acoustics but the response from the audience was so amazing that still today it is one of my favourite concerts.

What is your most memorable concert experience? 

The first time I played for the Swedish King. When I played he was sitting three meters away from me so I could see him the whole time – he looked really bored!

As a musician, what is your definition of success? 

No matter what you do, no matter how you do it, there will always be someone who doesn’t like it, so it’s important to realise that you can’t please everyone.  But I think it’s also true that no matter what you do, no matter how you do it, there will always be someone who likes it so I think the definition of success is when you find what you really want to do and then find an audience who shares your passion.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians? 

To work hard and always remember that your main goal and focus should always be to entertain and reach the audience. Also you should have some fun yourself!

What is your idea of perfect happiness? 

To make other people happy!

Magnus Holmander appears on 5th November at Sage Gateshead in ‘Nordic Magic’ with the Royal Northern Sinfonia under Catherine Larden-Maguire

He is the musician who can make a music stand levitate and a clarinet to literally vanish right in front of your eyes. Magnus has, through his unique combination of music and magic, created his very own niche in the world of classical music.

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Artist image by Christopher Hästbacka