Mezzo Soprano
Bb Clarinet
Bass clarinet
Alto Saxophone
Soprano Saxophone


I’ve been singing and playing musical instruments all my life. I started working on my singing voice while I was still at school and continued at University, studying with Brian Galloway as a mezzo soprano. His guidance gave me a healthy, flexible voice and a technique that has never wavered. My work as an actor-musician has given me opportunities to sing in many different styles: I have sung opera, oratorio, jazz, folk, pop, contemporary music….etc! Below you can listen to some audio clips of my singing work.

Out of Place project bringing together new music with contempory poetry


I started playing woodwind instruments at primary school when a chance opportunity to play the clarinet showed that I had an unusual facility for the instrument. My parents gratefully handed back the violin I had been scratching on so awfully and I have never looked back. I play Bb and Bass Clarinet as well as all the saxophones. Apart from helping me to get a lot of interesting work as an actor, I have played regularly with pop bands live and in the studio, often with A Little Orchestra of which I was a founder member. Below are some clips of my instrumental work.


I also compose music and recently I set up my ‘Out of Place’ project, bringing together new music with contemporary poetry.

Here are my three compositions for Out of Place in which I also perform as vocalist and musician, recorded live in performance at the Actors Church in July 2017:

Shapely Wound

Mina’s Waltz

Dancing Green

I work regularly as a performer with composer Anna Braithwaite on her series of contemporary music pieces including ‘Brainsong’, ‘Super Obsessive’ and here, ‘Quintet for Biscuit’, recorded live in performance with The Bergersen Quartet:

And here I play bass clarinet and sing in a music-theatre piece, ‘Oblique’ by Dominic de Grande, recorded live at St Bart’s Church as part of a concert of new music:

Also for Dominic de Grande I sang soprano on his composition based on The Tempest, ‘Be Not Afeard’ – here is an extract:

I have also performed as vocalist with Gundula Gruen’s band Tatcho Drom, here we are, filmed live at the Union Chapel

This is an extract from a Bb clarinet piece ‘I’d Rather Walk’ by Paul Hepden, performed in concert at St Michael’s Camden

I recorded a song written by the Medieval Babes to be played every night as part of a circus show on Clapham Common while aerialists performed on ropes and cloths from the ceiling of the big top:

I am a founder member of A Little Orchestra which was established in 2010. We play on stage and in the studio for Ralegh Long, Simon Love, The Understudies, Leaf Library, Haiku Salut, A Fine Day for Sailing, Shirley Lee, The Hidden Messages, The School, Pocketbooks, MJ Hibbett, Punk Wedding and Moose Factory. We released an album of original works and compositions in 2013:

In 2017 I played clarinet for Darren Hayman on his ‘Thankful Villages’ series as well as previously on ‘The Archduke Learns to Ski’ and ‘Seraing Lokamotiv’ and on David John Sheppard’s album Vertical Land.

As an actor-musician since 1989 I appeared at the Purcell Rooms in the Natural Theatre Company’s music-theatre show ‘William Tell’ and at the National Theatre on the South Bank singing Stephen Warbeck’s compositions for ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’. I sang again for the RNT in ‘Hallisinia’, an operetta commemorating Hogarth at the Tate. I have also worked with composers/ MDs Howard Goodall, Steve Edis, Paul Clark, Felix Cross, Greg Palmer, John Lubbock, Carlton Edwards, Thomas Frere, Ian Davies, Ben Livingstone and folk musician Dougie Maclean. See Theatre page for more details of these shows.

Other musical adventures include:

Vocals for Max Rheinhardt’s live improvised soundtrack to ‘Battleship Potemkin’ at the Regent St Cinema
Vocal soloist on The American Songbook at ‘Va Por Cuba’ at Bolivar Hall
Bb Clarinet on Tom Kilworth’s ‘Tea Suite’
Bass Clarinet for Dave Berryman’s ‘Sea Stacks’,
Bass Clarinet for Duncan Chapman/BBC Symphony Orchestra’s Eotvos Project at the Barbican

© 2018 Nicola Burnett Smith