Thursday, August 6, 2015

Jess Gillam's World - Part 1

Jess Gillam - Welcome to my world!

“One of the best young saxophonists in the UK” 
-Snake Davis

Hello everybody, I am delighted to have been asked to write a blog for June Emerson Wind Music about music from a young person's perspective! I am a 17 year old saxophonist from Ulverston in Cumbria and I study at the Junior Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Each month, I will write a little about performances and musical events I have been involved with and my life as a young musician.
July has been an exciting month and I have had some musical experiences I will never forget. One of these was performing a solo recital at SaxOpen (the World Saxophone Congress) in Strasbourg. I was the youngest of 2,600 delegates and performing to a room of saxophonists was a challenging task. Usually, I know that most of the audience will be unaware of details about saxophone technique and simply want to hear good music, but when performing to a room of people who know everything about the saxophone, it is quite nerve-wracking! However, I think emotions that music can convey and the power that music has is the most important thing to capture in a performance, so I tried to play just as I would if I was in front of a typical concert audience. 
My recital consisted of world premières of commissions from leading saxophonists: Barbara Thompson, Rob Buckland and John Harle, as well as one of my own compositions. All the pieces were written for saxophone with backing tracks. The whole experience of commissioning new works and working with the composers was very interesting and I really enjoyed performing the premières. My concert was on Day Two of the Congress which was the perfect time as I felt truly inspired by some of the performances I had seen the night before. Barbara Thompson's Concerto for Three Saxophones was performed with the Strasbourg Symphony Orchestra and soloists Rob Buckland, Francesco Cafiso and Michael Alizon each performed a movement. The third movement was performed by Rob Buckland on soprano saxophone - the connection he had with the music was very apparent and the rapport with the orchestra made the music come alive and really sing. It was a remarkable performance and a fantastic composition - I felt proud to have pieces written for me by Barbara and Rob and lucky to know them both and be taught by Rob. 
The Congress was the perfect place to meet saxophonists from around the world and to catch up with others. I met Mr Yanagisawa and, as I am a Yanagisawa Artist, I was very pleased to be able to meet him and thank him. I also met Hidemasa Sato who made part of the new Alto WO that I play, and it was lovely to be able to thank him for his skilled craftsmanship. 
After returning home from the Congress, I performed with the National Youth Jazz Collective Creative Leadership Ensemble at the Benslow Music Centre and then started planning and practising repertoire for what promises to be a very busy Autumn! 

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