Oskar Espina Ruiz
Oskar Espina Ruiz has been described by the press as a “masterful soloist” and a “highly expressive” clarinetist who “brings forth the notes with an energy that reaches down to one's soul.” Over the past nine years Espina Ruiz has performed at major concert halls and festivals to high critical acclaim, including concerto performances at the Philharmonic Hall in St. Petersburg, Russia, and recitals at Carnegie's Weill Hall in New York, the Corcoran Museum in Washington D.C., the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, Oji Hall in Tokyo, the Madrid Royal Superior Conservatory, the Beijing and Shanghai Conservatories and Radio Television Hong Kong. He has appeared as soloist with the St. Petersburg State Academic Symphony (Russia), St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic (Russia), Orquesta Sinfónica de la Ciudad de Asunción (Paraguay) and Bilbao Symphony (Spain). His chamber music collaborations include the Shanghai, Escher and Calla quartets, the Quintet of the Americas, pianist Anthony Newman, cellist David Geber (founder, American String Quartet) and Metropolitan Opera Orchestra artists. He has been featured as soloist at the 20th Tokyo Summer Festival, the European Mozart Academy (performing throughout European capitals), the St. Petersburg Palaces XIII International Music Festival (Russia) and the VI Festival Internacional de Música Clásica Contemporánea de Lima (Peru).
Espina Ruiz has recorded for the Bridge, Kobaltone and Prion labels, receiving high critical acclaim by fellow clarinetists Richard Stoltzman and Charles Neidich for his solo recording “Julián Menéndez Rediscovered.” Charles Neidich, with whom he studied in New York City for over 10 years, calls Espina Ruiz “an unusually gifted musician who has already made a mark in the musical world and is becoming one of the most distinguished clarinetists in the U.S.” Richard Stoltzman wrote: “Bravo! You are and have the kind of energy the music world needs.”
Espina Ruiz devotes much of his time to musical research. His work on Spanish Post-Romantic composer Julián Menéndez brought him the first prize of the International Clarinet Association Research Competition in 2006, and he later wrote an article for the March 2007 issue of The Clarinet magazine, which led to the acquisition of one of Menéndez's clarinets by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for its Musical Instruments Galleries. The clarinet is currently on display at its permanent collection, including a photo and biography of Menéndez next to Benny Goodman's.
In an effort to bring important works and revisions into the clarinet repertoire, in 2003 Espina Ruiz performed the South American premiere of the original Copland Clarinet Concerto, reconstructed from the manuscripts at the Library of Congress, and his orchestrations and adaptations include Ravel's Sonate Posthume, works by Arriaga, Sarasate, Turina, Granados and Falla, and Menéndez's Clarinet Concerto No. 2.
He is deeply involved with the music of our time and has premiered works written for him by Chinese composers Ao, Hu and Chen, Spanish composers Bageneta and Villasol, French composer Gaigne and American composers Weymouth and Spinei.
Born in Bilbao, Spain, his first musical training came at an early age performing on Basque folk instruments. He later pursued the traditional conservatory training as a clarinetist and often performed with the Bilbao Symphony, as its youngest member, at age 16. He came to New York City in 1991 to further his studies in clarinet and won the top clarinet prizes at the Olga Koussevitzky and Artists International competitions.
He holds a Doctor in Musical Arts diploma from Stony Brook University and a Master in Fine Arts diploma from Purchase College Conservatory of Music, where his major teachers were Charles Neidich and Ayako Oshima. He has also studied with flutist Aurèle Nicolet while at the European Mozart Academy.
Oskar Espina Ruiz currently holds a clarinet faculty position at the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music in San Juan, maintains a clarinet studio at Bloomingdale School of Music in New York City and is artistic director of the Treetops Chamber Music Society, in Stamford, Conn., while keeping a busy concert schedule.