studied clarinet at the Royal Academy of Music with Alan Hacker, and subsequently read Music at London University’s Goldsmiths College.
As a clarinettist and bass clarinettist he has appeared widely as a soloist throughout Europe, the Middle East, Australia, the USA, Taiwan, and North Korea (probably the only British clarinettist ever to appear there!). He has recorded for radio and/or television in most of these countries, and has recorded more than fifty programmes for BBC Radio 3 in repertoire ranging from Rameau to new commissions. He has also recorded a number of solo, chamber and orchestral programmes for television in the UK.
His CD on Black Box was the first recording by a British artist of music for solo bass clarinet. It was awarded a top double five star and special silver star (for outstanding performance) by BBC Music Magazine. A previous solo CD (of music by John White on the Austrian label LondonHalle) was a Critic’s CD Choice of the Year, also in BBC Music Magazine. He has recorded over thirty discs as soloist or with ensembles including Gemini (four have been Critic’s Choice of the Year in Gramophone or BBC Music Magazine), London Sinfonietta, The Michael Nyman Band, Critical Band, Lindsay Cooper, Dagmar Krause, plus recordings with ad hoc orchestras and ensembles for disc, cassette, video and film.
He is a founder member and presently Director of the chamber ensemble Gemini; was a member of Liria, an ensemble specialising in Albanian folk music; has performed with the London Sinfonietta, Monteverdi Orchestra, Critical Band, Fires of London, AMM, Michael Nyman Band, Gavin Bryars Ensemble, Eisler Ensemble, and numerous chamber ensembles and orchestras.
Over 40 solo clarinet and bass clarinet pieces have been written for him. He has commissioned over 50 works for the chamber ensemble Gemini since 1985 and he has been involved in the first performance of numerous other chamber and orchestral works. He gave the world première in 1984 of Mountains for solo bass clarinet by Cornelius Cardew, and was featured performing this piece in an Arts Council film about the composer released in 1986. He was also bass clarinet soloist on the soundtrack recorded in New York for the film My Friends Told Me About You written, produced and music composed by Carlos Dengler, former bass player with Interpol. He is a featured soloist in the Peter Greenaway film of the 70th birthday celebrations for John Cage and has toured his own realisation of Stockhausen’s Little Harlequin for dancing clarinettist. He represented the UK in the first international bass clarinet convention as solo performer (three world premieres) and juror in Rotterdam 2005.
As a conductor he has toured the Netherlands conducted Gemini in BBC R3 recordings and on a tour of Taiwan, conducted on television and for CD (Metier label) and DVD (arc).
The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music asked him to commission, edit and record his choice of sixteen works for clarinet (including Turnage, Bryars, Wallen, LeFanu, Firsova, Larsen) for publication in their Spectrum series. The collection won The Music Industry Association award for Best Classical Publication 2007. He contributed chapters on William O. Smith and Boulez in ed. Heaton, The Versatile Clarinet, Routledge New York, 2006, and has written numerous articles and essays on topics relating to the clarinet and bass clarinet, and also to teaching.
He was a Senior Lecturer at The University of Exeter from 1996-2007, and Head of the Wind, Brass and Percussion Department at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance from 2007-2014.
Ian has been made a Fellow of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (FTL), awarded an Hon ARAM by the Royal Academy of Music, and an Hon. LTCL by Trinity College, London.