Jonathan Small, principal oboist with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and Senior Tutor of Oboe at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester enjoys a seasoned reputation as a highly individual performer and teacher, whose eloquent, inspired playing combines individuality with unceasing scholarship.
His aspirations as an oboist stem from the expressive flexibility of the English tradition, as represented by artists such as Roger Lord and Michael Winfield (with whom Jonathan studied at the Royal College of Music, London), blended with the special richness of tone and intensity of the German school exemplified by Lothar Koch of Karajan’s Berlin Philharmonic. Jonathan has always played instruments made by Püchner of Nauheim, Germany, which he has represented in the UK since 1991.
Jonathan joined the RLPO in 1984, having been principal oboist with Scottish Opera Orchestra from 1980. At the time of his appointment, aged 22, he was the youngest principal oboist in the UK and is now one of the UK’s longest serving and most distinguished oboists. During his career the RLPO he has taken part in recordings of numerous symphony and concerto cycles, encompassing much of the greatest orchestral repertoire with the RLPO’s conductors: Vasily Petrenko, Libor Pešek, Vernon Handley, Sir Charles Mackerras, Gerard Schwarz and Marek Janowski and with many distinguished international soloists.
Jonathan's excellent recording of the Richard Strauss Oboe Concerto (with the RLPO and Gerard Schwarz on AVIE) received the highest accolade when BBC Radio 3’s CD Review nominated it as the recommended version in October 2014, following a rigorous selection from over 30 recordings dating from 1947 to the most recent. Jonathan’s world-class EMI performance of the Vaughan Williams Concerto with the late Vernon Handley also remains the recommended recording. His Naxos centenary recording (2006) of William Alwyn's Oboe Concerto received the highest rating for performance from BBC Music Magazine. In 2010 Jonathan recorded an album of English oboe concertos for Dutton Epoch, works by Cyril Scott, Armstrong Gibbs, Christopher Wright and Elis Pehkonen. His recording of Jean Francaix’s L’Horloge de Flore with Libor Pešek is aired regularly on BBC Radio 3 and on Classic FM.
Jonathan has always been active in contemporary music, having been a founding member of Glasgow’s Paragon Ensemble, and Liverpool Philharmonic’s Ensemble 10:10. He has premiered works by Rodion Shchedrin, Haim Permont, John Maxwell Geddes, Mark Simpson and Michael Small. He played Chen Qigang’s Extase II, at the 2014 International Double Reed Society Convention in New York. At the same concert Jonathan conducted the professional ensemble in performances of Firecracker by Michael Daugherty and the US premiere of the Concertino for Bassoon by Augusta Read Thomas.