American viola and viola d’amore player Clifton Harrison has performed as a chamber musician, recitalist, and in orchestras throughout Europe, the United States, Central America, and Asia. He is the viola player in the acclaimed Kreutzer Quartet with whom he has recorded extensively. As a member of the quartet, Clifton has been artist-in-residence at Oxford University, Goldsmiths, Southampton, and Bath Spa University and continues a close association with the Royal Academy of Music and Royal Northern College of Music.
Parallel to his quartet duties, Clifton regularly gives masterclasses, workshops, and lectures worldwide on viola performance, chamber music, artistic and professional development, and topics surrounding his main research areas. He has a strong passion for educating the next generation. He has recently given lectures and masterclasses at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Vanderbilt University (USA), Royal Academy of Music, and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He is also a viola tutor for the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and Nicola Benedetti’s Benedetti Foundation.
Clifton is frequently invited on a number of judging panels, most recently for PRS Foundation, Royal Philharmonic Society Awards and Ivors Composer Awards. An avid freelance viola player, he has worked as guest principal with most of the major UK ensembles and London’s period performance ensembles. He is also in demand as a guest principal in orchestras and ensembles across Europe, spanning repertoire from the 16th century to the 21st century. Clifton records extensively for film, television and video games and can be heard on hundreds of international soundtracks. He has toured worldwide with countless classical ensembles as well as performed with popular artists as wide-ranging as Eric Clapton, Björk, Laura Mvula, the James Taylor Quartet, Michael Kiwanuka, Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Thom Yorke, Dermot Kennedy, Jonny Greenwood, and Ellie Goulding. Clifton has been heard in festivals throughout the world, from the muddy fields of Glastonbury to the EFG London Jazz Festival, Ghent Festival, Lincoln Center Festival, Edinburgh International Festival, and London’s BBC Proms.
As a researcher, Clifton focuses on two distinct areas: Seventeenth and eighteenth century viola d’amore music from the Germanic region, and Black, Asian and ethnically diverse classical and contemporary composers/sound artists.
Clifton is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy, America'‘s oldest and most prestigious boarding school for the arts. This was followed by studies at the Juilliard School (violin/viola) and the Royal Academy of Music (modern viola/baroque viola).
In 2019, the Governing Body and the Honours Committee of the Royal Academy of Music elected Clifton Harrison Associate of the Royal Academy of Music (ARAM). This honour is awarded to a select number of former students who have made a significant contribution to the music profession.
Recent releases are on the Hyperion, Universal Music, Sony, NAXOS, Warner Music, Navona Records, NMC Records, Métier, and Signum Classics labels.