“An adrenaline shock to the UK new music scene…” – Kate Molleson, BBC Radio 3

“The Queen of Clarinet Multiphonics” – Sara Mohr-Pietsch, BBC Radio 3

“…multiphonic virtuosity” – The Guardian

“…brilliant…” – The Times

“…performed by the excellent Heather Roche…brought vividly to life by Roche’s controlled but expressive performance… 5 stars” –  BBC Music Magazine

“…a figurehead for contemporary music performance practice” – Neil Luck, BBC Radio 3

…undoubtedly one of the great instrumentalists of her generation.” – Graham McKenzie, Artistic Director of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival

“Roche expertly navigates the wide and persistent large intervals” – The Clarinet

“What makes all of this so fully absorbing is how Roche has completely internalized extended techniques for clarinet into her playing, with nothing sounding forced or contrived.” – Point of Departure

Born in Canada, clarinetist Heather Roche trained in England, lived in Germany for 7 years and now lives in London.

She has performed at most of the major European festivals, including musikFest (Berlin), BachFest (Leipzig), Musica Nova (Helsinki), Acht Brücken (Cologne), the International Computer Music Conference (Huddersfield, Ljubljana), the Dias de Música Electroacústica (Seia, Portugal) the Bludenzer Tage (Bludenz, Austria), and the Agora Festival (Ircam, Paris). She has also performed solo programmes at the Zagreb Music Biennale, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, the New York Electroacoustic Symposium, at CIRMMT (Montreal), Sound Festival (Aberdeen), Unerhörte Musik (Berlin), Eavesdropping (London), Rainy Days (Luxembourg) and with the Birmingham Electroacoustic Sound Theatre (BEAST).

She has premiered many solo works for her instrument, including pieces by Maija Hynninen, Simon Emmerson, Martin Iddon, Lisa Robertson, Christopher Fox, Dai Fujikura, Martin Rane Bauck, Chikako Morishita, Michelle Lou, etc. In 2020, Scott McLaughlin wrote his clarinet concerto, Natura Naturans, for her, and it was premiered at Tectonics (Glasgow) with the BBCSSO under Ilan Volkov. Her CD of Martin Iddon’s clarinet music, Sapindales, recently sold out on the Another Timbre label.

In 2015 she formed a duo with the German accordionist Eva Zöllner, with whom she has performed at the Venice Biennale, MIXTUR festival (Barcelona), the Darmstadt Summer Courses, Gaudeamus (Holland), and the Bludenzer Tage (Austria). They also toured extensively in Mexico (2019), Sweden (2021) and Colombia (2022). They have commissioned dozens of new pieces for their duo, including works by Annika Socolofsky, Elnaz Seyedi, Pierre Alexandre Tremblay, Christopher Fox, and Johan Svensson. Their latest call for composers (supported by NeuStart Kultur) attracted 100 applications from around the world, from which they chose four – which will be premiered in January 2023 in Germany.

She has played with Apartment House (London) since 2016. With them, she has recorded 23 CDs for the Another Timbre label, and the ensemble is currently Ensemble-in-Residence at Wigmore Hall. She was a member of Mimitabu (Gothenburg) from 2018-2020, and she was a founding member of hand werk, a 6-person chamber music ensemble based in Cologne, and worked with the group from 2010-2017.

She has performed with ensembles and orchestras including Musikfabrik (Cologne), the WDR Orchestra (Cologne), mimitabu (Gothenburg), the London Symphony Orchestra (London), the London Sinfonietta (London), ensemble Garage (Cologne), ensemble interface (Berlin), the Riot Ensemble (London), the Alisios Camerata (Zagreb), manufaktur für aktuelle musik (Frankfurt), and ensemble proton (Bern).

She has solo CDs out on the HCR/NMC and Métier labels. Please see the Discography for further details.

Since 2016 she has acted as the Reviews Editor for TEMPO, a quarterly journal for contemporary music published by Cambridge University Press. She also writes regularly for the Clarinet and Saxophone Society Magazine, and has written feature pieces for MusicWorks Magazine (Canada).

Her website is host to one of the most widely read new music blogs on the Internet. In 2019 it had 90,000 hits from around the world. She successfully crowdfunded in 2014 in order to host her first composition competition. Six young composers were chosen out of 270 applicants to write new pieces, which were premiered in 2016.

She gives workshops in clarinet technique and composition all over Europe, for example in London, Munich and Copenhagen. She has a yearly workshop for fourth-year undergraduate students at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, in which they write a new piece for clarinet and electronics. She has also participated in residencies with young composers at Stanford University, Harvard University, Peabody Conservatory and the University of Leeds, etc.

In 2014 she was awarded a DIVA (Danish International Visiting Artists Fellowship), and lived in Copenhagen for two months.

Heather completed her Masters of Music (Orchestral Training) in 2006 at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, studying under Joy Farrall and Laurent Ben Slimane, in addition to conducting with Sian Edwards. Following her degree she completed residencies with the International Ensemble Modern Academy, at IMPULS in Graz and with ensemble recherche in Freiburg, the Darmstadt Summer Courses 2008 and 2010 and the International Ensemble Modern Academy in Innsbruck, Austria. She performed in masterclasses with Michael Collins, Ernesto Molinari and Shizuyo Oka, to name a few. She completed her BMus in 2005 at the University of Victoria, Canada, studying under Patricia Kostek.

5 Responses to Biography

  1. Eric Mandat says:

    Hi Heather, thank you for your very informative website for clarinetists and composers about new resources and extended techniques. I look forward to catching up and reading all your blog posts.

    • heatherroche says:

      Hi Eric,
      Amazing — I’m a big fan of yours, so it’s so flattering to have this comment from you. I seem to remember having some of your scores when I was a student in Canada but I’ve lost track of them now alas — would love to have another look. Sean Osborn recorded your music, right? Be very curious to have more feedback on the blog if you had the time/inclination. Please feel free to email me anytime
      Best wishes from London!

  2. IsuBenito says:

    This blog is just amazing! Thank you very much for this Heather! I am a composer currently writing a piece for bass clarinet and live painting, what a fantastic instrument and how helpful this blog is.

    A million of thanks!

    All best,


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