Thursday, September 3, 2015

Jess Gillam's World

Part 2

“The future of our industry” 
- Nikki Neave (manager of Courtney Pine)

To start August, I travelled to Glasgow to watch my younger sister, Patsy, perform with the National Children’s Orchestra with special guests Nicola Benedetti and Wynton Marsalis. Their performance of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony was incredible and to watch an orchestra consisting of people all aged 13 or under who had such a deep understanding of the music was quite inspirational!
Nicola Benedetti gave a beautiful performance of The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams and I learned so much from this performance. I sometimes struggle to focus solely on the actual music in a piece rather than being hung up on technicalities or changing the musical line to suit the instrument. Watching a virtuoso violinist made me appreciate even more how important the musical line is in a piece – you can see every movement with their bow and all movements are external, it is often difficult to work out what saxophonists are doing as the hard work is internalised! As a saxophone player, I find myself listening to many other saxophonists and to music that involves saxophone but this concert proved to me that listening to music that predates the saxophone can often be more useful – there is so much to learn by listening to musicians and appreciating music as a whole.

National Children's Orchestra with Nicola Benedetti

After watching this concert and hearing the pure tone and sheer musicality of Wynton Marsalis and Nicola Benedetti, I really wanted to apply this as much as possible to my playing. A couple of days after the concert I went to the Windstruments Saxophone Summer School with Rob Buckland, Sally MacTaggart and Carl Raven in Harrogate. I have been attending this summer school since the age of 12 and every year, I learn so much about the saxophone and music. Rob Buckland was the perfect person to help me understand how to change both physically in my playing as well as the psychological processes involved. Rob knows so much about the saxophone and is also a fantastic general musician and listening to him talk throughout the week about sound production has helped me greatly!

Harrogate massed saxophones

There was also a chance to form quartets ( and work as a massed saxophone ensemble and working with other saxophone players to create a huge sound was something I enjoyed very much!

This month, I have also finalised all of the details for the next concert in the concert series I organise in my home town of Ulverston, in the Lake District. I am very excited to announce that John Harle – a master of saxophone – will be performing in November. I will also perform as a special guest. Tickets are now available and are selling quickly!


John Harle Concert - Friday 13th November @ 7.30pm

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