Ricardo Morales is the principal clarinetist of The Philadelphia Orchestra. Prior to this, he was principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, a position he assumed at the age of 21 under the direction of James Levine. He began his professional career as principal clarinet of the Florida Symphony at age 18. In addition, he has performed as guest principal clarinet with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The New York Philharmonic and at the invitation of Sir Simon Rattle, performed as guest principal clarinet with the Berlin Philharmonic. He has also participated as principal clarinet of the Saito Kinen Festival Orchestra in Matsumoto, Japan, under maestro Seiji Ozawa.
A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Mr. Morales began his studies at the Escuela Libre de Musica along with his five siblings, who are all distinguished musicians. He continued his studies at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and Indiana University, where he received his Artist Diploma.
He has been a featured soloist with many orchestras including the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Seoul Philharmonic, Les Violons du Roi, the Flemish Radio Symphony, the North Carolina Symphony, the Puerto Rico Symphony, the Florida Symphony and the Columbus Symphony. During his tenure with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Mr. Morales soloed under the baton of James Levine in Carnegie Hall and on two European tours. He made his solo debut with The Philadelphia Orchestra in 2004 with Charles Dutoit and has since performed as soloist on numerous occasions.
An active chamber musician, Mr. Morales has performed in the MET Chamber Ensemble series at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall with James Levine at the piano, at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Saratoga Chamber Music Festival, on NBC's The Today Show, and with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He has performed with many distinguished ensembles such as The Juilliard Quartet, the Pacifica Quartet, the Miró Quartet, the Leipzig Quartet and The Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio. He has also collaborated with Christoph Eschenbach, André Watts, Emmanuel Ax, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Gil Shaham and Kathleen Battle. Mr. Morales is highly sought after for his recitals and master classes, which have taken him throughout North America and Europe. In addition, he currently serves on the faculties of the Juilliard School, Temple University and the Curtis Institute of Music.
His performances have been met with critical acclaim. The Philadelphia Inquirer hailed his appointment to the Philadelphia Orchestra, stating "…in fact, may represent the most salutary personnel event of the orchestra's last decade." He was also praised by the New York Times as having "...fleet technique, utterly natural musical grace, and the lyricism and breath control of a fine opera singer." Mr. Morales was also singled out in the New York Times review of the Metropolitan Opera's production of Berlioz's Les Troyens, describing his playing as "exquisite" and declared that he "deserved a place onstage during curtain calls."
His debut solo recording, French Portraits, is available on the Boston Records label. Morales' recent recordings include performances with The Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio and also with the Pacifica Quartet, which was nominated for a Latin Grammy Award. Mr. Morales has joined forces with internationally recognized master acoustician and instrument maker Morrie Backun, of Backun Musical Services, to create MoBa, a line of artist clarinets and clarinet accessories including: mouthpieces, bells, and barrels. Mr. Morales has also been teaching clarinet online since 2012 as part of the ArtistWorks Classical Campus.