Ashley R. Leigh, Assistant Principal/Second Clarinet
Donna and Don Comstock Chair
Ashley R. Leigh has performed with the National Orchestral Institute, the Round Top Festival Institute, Musica Riva Festival (Italy) and the Tanglewood Festival.
Ashley was awarded the grand prize at the 2006 Buffet-Crampon Young Artists Clarinet Competition in New York. She has been a finalist for The Cleveland Orchestra as well as for the principal clarinet position with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Ashley holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and has completed additional graduate studies at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Her teachers include Paul Garner, Alessandro Carbonare and Richard Hawley. She has been a member of the Naples Philharmonic since 2005.
I am a seventh-generation Texan. I studied clarinet in Dallas, Texas, as well as Paris, France, and Cincinnati, Ohio. I won the audition for the Naples Philharmonic in 2005 at the age of 23 and have been very content to stay and contribute to the artistic endeavors going on here. Also, I am now married and have three young children.
What has been your most memorable moment with the orchestra?
My most memorable moment with the orchestra was playing Bartók’s Contrasts with Glenn Basham and Jodie DeSalvo. It was challenging and very rewarding to play with musicians of that level.
What inspired you to become a musician?
The moment where I decided I wanted to become a professional musician was my junior year of High School. I was playing the slow movement from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in the All State Orchestra, and I simply fell in love with the orchestra.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
The most enjoyable part of my job is the variety of music I get to play. One week, I might be playing a Mozart Trio in the Sypert Salon Chamber Music Series. Another week, I might be playing Holiday Pops, opera, ballet, or a serious Masterworks program with a world-class soloist. What a fun job I have!
What’s challenging about playing your instrument?
The challenging part of playing the clarinet is making sure I have dependable reeds. I could be ready to play in every other way, but it seems more than half the battle is finding a reed I can really play comfortably.
What are your favorite compositions?
My favorite composition is always changing. I am drawn to the introspective mood and timbre of Shostakovich, I’m in awe of the majesty of a Brahms symphony, but perhaps my favorite composition today is Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. I walked down the aisle at my wedding to the last movement of this piece, “The Great Gate of Kiev.”
What have you been listening to recently?
Recently, I have been listening to Gypsy jazz music. My husband plays violin in a Gypsy jazz group called Gypsy Sojourn. I love the warm and lively style of this French café music. I also like the color the clarinet brings to this genre.
Are there other musicians in your immediate family?
There are no other musicians in my immediate family. However, I am now married to a composer/violinist and, so far, our kids are pretty musical.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Outside of work, my husband and I spend most of our time serving in the Church. My husband, Jeff, is a pastor and I serve as a worship leader. This, and our three small children, keep our lives full and rich.