Thursday, November 5, 2015

Jess Gillam's World

Part 4

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

October has been a great month for me. After finishing the filming with Barbara Thompson and Jon Hiseman (see JGW part 3), I had two performances of Malcolm Arnold's Saxophone Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Strings to prepare for. The piece was originally a piano sonata and was arranged as a concerto by David Ellis at the request of Malcolm Arnold. At first when learning the work, I had some difficulties in understanding the music and the emotion it was trying to convey. I decided that to understand it better, I needed to know a little more about the composer and the inspirations for the music he wrote, so I listened to some interesting podcasts about Malcolm Arnold and began to realise why there was an underlying tinge of darkness to the music. Another aspect of learning a concerto I have difficulty with is memorising it - I really struggle to remember my entries and the order of the notes!  I knew this was going to be the case so I have had a photocopy of the score stuck on my bedroom wall since July; I do this with all pieces I have to memorise, and then repeat the passages I have difficulty remembering as much as I can. I have always found this difficult but once it is memorised, I think I can be much more expressive and take more risks with the music.

Jess with conductor John Gibbons

The first performance was at the Worthing Assembly Hall with the Worthing Symphony Orchestra under the baton of acclaimed conductor John Gibbons. The second was at the Malcolm Arnold Festival at the Royal and Derngate Theatre in Northampton. I enjoyed both performances very much – performing with an orchestra is an experience I love and I find it so different to performing with piano or unaccompanied. I fee like I have to consider everything I play in a much different way and that I have to be fully aware of my role in the piece as a whole at every moment in the piece. I was very pleased with the reviews from both performances!

Jess with Malcolm Arnold Festival Director, Paul Harris

I have also been working on promoting the next event in the concert series  I organise – a concert with John Harle and Steve Lodder. I am really looking forward to this performance; I think John Harle is such an inspiring musician and saxophonist and to see him perform live will be fantastic. I am also going to be performing a piece called ‘Berlin Tango” with John!
As I am writing this blog, my younger sister Patsy is playing bass at a gig at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester with her band “Pesky!” to over 40,000 people. I can only dream of a concert this big one day!


John Harle Concert - Friday 13th November @ 7.30pm
Follow Jess Gillam on Facebook
Follow @jessgillamsax on Twitter

Yanagisawa Saxophones UK

Vandoren UK

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