NY Licorice Ensemble was founded by Ayako Oshima, a clarinetist based in New York City. All the members studied in New York with the celebrated clarinetist, Charles Neidich, who is Ayako's husband. NY Licorice Ensemble is truly an international group; four of its members currently live in the United States: Michiyo Suzuki, Akari Yamamoto, Yumi Ito and Ayako Oshima, while Ikuko Suzuki, Noriko Nagao, Fumie Endo, Nozomi Ueda, Kayako Ohashi, Hiroko Muzuguchi, Ikuko Tsukamoto, Fusayo Oike and Hiromi Nishida live in Japan. They are all active professional performers and teachers. While NY Licorice may well be the first professional clarinet choir consisting entirely of women, it is certainly one of very few non-student clarinet ensembles consisting entirely of players who studied with the same teacher, a fact which must be partly responsible for the extraordinary blend and matched color of the group.
Charles Neidich has gained worldwide recognition as one of the most mesmerizing virtuosos on his instrument. With a tone of hypnotic beauty and a dazzling technique, Mr. Neidich has received unanimous accolades from critics and fellow musicians both in the United States and abroad; but it is his musical intelligence in scores as diverse as Mozart and Elliott Carter that have earned for Mr. Neidich a unique place among clarinetists. In the words of The New Yorker, "He is an artist of uncommon merit -- a master of his instrument and, beyond that, an interpreter who keeps listeners hanging on each phrase"