Antony Pay is our Principal Clarinettist, and he’s currently on tour with us, taking centre stage with Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No.1. There’s Antony Paystill a chance to catch the performance tonight in Sheffield or Saturday in Basingstoke. We put some quick fire questions to him:

What/when was your big breakthrough?
In January 1968 when the London Sinfonietta did its first concert.  That led quite quickly to work with the LPO and the English Chamber Orchestra, and then to my being appointed first clarinet in the RPO under Kempe…I remember it being a golden year!

What do you fear the most?
I feel most terrified in the moments before throwing myself into a challenge; once I’m actually doing it, it isn’t so bad.  On a more trivial level, I don’t like to feel as though I’m looking stupid, so answering questionnaires like this is difficult.

Which mobile number do you call the most?
I often call my wife;  sometimes that’s just for a lift back from the railway station, but we speak most days when I’m away.

What – or where – is perfection?
“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?”

Who is your favourite hero from fiction (book/comic/film/opera) – and why?
Maurice Allingham, the narrator in The Green Man by Kingsley Amis.  Thoughtful, courageous, flawed, honest.

What’s your favourite ritual?
A long hot bath with a good book.  (On my Kindle, nowadays.)

Which living person do you most admire (and why)?
Eddie Izzard.  Generous, self-knowing, serious, obsessed, brilliantly funny.

What other talent or skill would you like to possess?
I’d like to be fluent in other languages, and pick them up easily.  (So why don’t I spend more time on that?)

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Not to take too seriously my expectations of how things will turn out.

What is the most played piece of music on your MP3 player or in your CD collection?
I don’t listen much to recorded music nowadays.  I like the songs my sons perform, and I’m fond of They Might be Giants.

What’s the best thing about working with the OAE?
‘Going home,’ is what my younger son once put, when asked in a questionnaire what he most liked about school.  But seriously, I suppose it’s the time we are able to give to pieces that most other orchestras have to dispatch in just one rehearsal – plus, for me, working with those conductors who, like Brüggen and Leonhardt, still try to have us feel, think and play beyond those of our immediate instincts that are actually inappropriate to the music.