Espina Ruiz has been described by the press as a “masterful
soloist” and a “highly expressive” clarinetist who “brings forth
the notes with an energy that reaches down to one's soul.” Over
the past ten years Espina Ruiz has performed at major concert
halls and festivals to high critical acclaim, including concerto
performances at the Philharmonic Hall in St. Petersburg, Russia,
and recitals at Carnegie's Weill Hall in New York, the Corcoran
Museum in Washington DC, the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, Oji Hall
in Tokyo, the Madrid Royal Superior Conservatory, the Beijing
and Shanghai Conservatories and Radio Television Hong Kong. He
has appeared as soloist with the St. Petersburg State Academic
Symphony (Russia), St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic (Russia),
Orquesta Sinfónica de la Ciudad de Asunción (Paraguay) and
Bilbao Symphony (Spain). His chamber music collaborations
include the American, Shanghai, Cassatt, Escher and Daedalus
quartets, the Quintet of the Americas, pianists Benjamin Hochman,
Ursula Oppens and Anthony Newman, cellist David Geber (founder,
American String Quartet) and Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
artists. He has been featured as soloist at the 20th
Tokyo Summer Festival, the European Mozart Academy —performing
throughout European capitals—, the St. Petersburg Palaces XIII.
International Music Festival (Russia) and the VI. Festival
Internacional de Música Clásica Contemporánea de Lima (Peru).
Espina Ruiz has recorded for the Bridge, Kobaltone and Prion
labels, receiving high critical acclaim by fellow clarinetists
Richard Stoltzman and Charles Neidich for his solo recording
“Julián Menéndez Rediscovered.” Charles Neidich, with whom he
studied in New York City for over ten years, calls Espina Ruiz
“an unusually gifted musician who has already made a mark in the
musical world and is becoming one of the most distinguished
clarinetists in the US.” Richard Stoltzman wrote: “Bravo! You
are and have the kind of energy the music world needs.”
Espina Ruiz devotes much of his time to musical research. His
work on Spanish Post-Romantic composer Julián Menéndez brought
him the first prize of the International Clarinet Association
Research Competition in 2006, later writing an article for the
March 2007 issue of “The Clarinet” magazine, and led to the
acquisition of one of Menéndez's clarinets by the Metropolitan
Museum of Art, for its Musical Instruments Galleries —currently
on display at its permanent collection, including a photo and
biography of Menéndez next to Benny Goodman's.
In an effort to bring important works and revisions into the
clarinet repertoire, in 2003 Espina Ruiz performed the South
American premiere of the original Copland Clarinet Concerto,
reconstructed from the manuscripts at the Library of Congress,
and his orchestrations and adaptations include Ravel's Sonate
Posthume, Debussy’s String Quartet for woodwind quintet (with
baritone sax), works by Arriaga, Sarasate, Turina, Granados and
Falla, and Menéndez's Clarinet Concerto No. 2.
He is deeply involved with the music of our time and has
premiered works written for him by Chinese composers Ao, Hu and
Chen, Spanish composers Bageneta and Villasol, French composer
Gaigne, Puerto Rican composer Fuentes and American composers
Weymouth, Anderson and Spinei.
Born in Bilbao, Spain, his first musical training came at an
early age performing on Basque folk instruments. He later
pursued the traditional conservatory training as a clarinetist
and often performed with the Bilbao Symphony, as its youngest
member, at age sixteen. He came to New York City in 1991 to
further his studies in clarinet and won the top clarinet prizes
at the Olga Koussevitzky and Artists International competitions.
He holds a Doctor in Musical Arts diploma from Stony Brook
University and a Master in Fine Arts diploma from Purchase
College Conservatory of Music, where his major teachers were
Charles Neidich and Ayako Oshima. He has also studied with
flutist Aurèle Nicolet while at the European Mozart Academy.
Oskar Espina Ruiz held a clarinet faculty position at the Puerto
Rico Conservatory of Music, in San Juan, PR, from 2009-2011.
Currently he holds a clarinet artist/professor position at the
University of North Carolina School of the Arts and is artistic
director of the Treetops Chamber Music Society, in Stamford, CT,
while keeping a busy concert schedule.