Profile: John Elder – bass clarinettist

For the last two and a half years, John Elder has played an E flat contrabass clarinet. He’s a highly valued member of the Meon Valley Orchestra and the Alton Concert Band and lives in Selbourne.

A retired geophysicist, John worked most of his life in the oil and gas industry. He spent ten years in the Middle East and eleven years in Borneo, a country he loves. He says he spent years and years extracting oil and gas from the earth, and years and years putting it back to store it for future use.

As a youngster John played the clarinet but like many amateur musicians he had a gap of not playing while work, family life and other interests took priority. In John’s case it was an interval of thirty-five years.

As retirement loomed, his wife suggested that he either start playing again or sell his collection of clarinets. He decided to return to the clarinet as a hobby. On a visit to a music shop he was advised that bass clarinettists were much sought after. So he sold his clutch of shorter instruments and took up the bass versions. This opened up new playing opportunities. However, he privately admits that his collection of newly-found instruments has started to grow again.

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