Ian Mitchell studied clarinet with John Maclean (principal clarinet with the Carl Rosa Opera Company), and with Alan Hacker at the Royal Academy of Music. After leaving with a distinction in the final performance examination, he read Music at London University. He was appointed ARAM in 1995, HonTCL in 2006 and HonFTL in 2015 for services to Music.
He has given premières of numerous works, has had many pieces written for him and has championed the use of the bass clarinet in solo and chamber music. His recording of solo bass clarinet music (the first by a British artist) released on Black Box was awarded the top accolade in BBC Music Magazine. He gave the world première of Mountains for bass clarinet by Cornelius Cardew, and was featured performing this piece in a film about the composer. He was a soloist in Peter Greenaway’s film of Cage’s 70th birthday celebrations, and has toured his own realisation of Stockhausen’s Little Harlequin for dancing clarinettist. There have been solo appearances throughout Europe, the Middle East, Australia, the USA, Taiwan, Japan and North Korea (the first – and only – British clarinettist to appear there!) with recordings for radio or television in most of these countries.
Ian Mitchell has appeared as soloist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and London Sinfonietta, and with The Monteverdi Orchestra, Fires of London, AMM, Dreamtiger, Michael Nyman Band, Gavin Bryars Ensemble, Critical Band and others. He is director of the chamber ensemble Gemini, a member of the Albanian folk band Liria and is a regular improviser, particularly with clarinettist and artist Dave Ryan in the MitchellRyan Duo.
He was a lecturer at the University of Exeter 1996-2007, and Head of Wind, Brass & Percussion at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance from 2007-2014.